Classroom Management & ICT

For most teachers the term classroom management refers to the practical details that must be looked after if a pedagogic situation is going to actually run smoothly on a day to day basis. ICT has the potential to become a great and useful tool in the hands of skilled educators. Like any other tool it also has the potential to become a frustration and a burden if the teacher fails to learn how to use the tool correctly. All tools must be used well to realise their full potential, but they must also be managed well. Take a simple analogy: - a skilled carpenter can use a plane to smooth and finish a rough piece of timber. However if the plane is never sharpened or honed, if it is jarred against nails and generally mismanaged then the tool will cease to be of use for that person. You know the saying ‘A skilled craftsperson never blames the tools’. Much the same with ICT. The skills of using the tools are dealt with in various other chapters. We want to take a short look at management of the tools.

Much of classroom management is the common sense associated with dealing professionally with a subject. Most teachers probably know these practical ideas, but it always helps to see these things catalogued and noted. It is also simpler to add to a list of practical ideas once they have been started. Good classroom management is the actual implementation of as many of these practical objectives as possible, at any given time. Mismanagement will undoubtedly result in frustration and stress.

There are three main areas to be dealt with concerning ICT and classroom management.

The first two can be dealt with on very practical levels. The third can be very personalised and approaches will vary in accordance with the diverse skills, needs, objectives and experience of the teachers involved.

Hardware Management

How do you look after the tools of ICT so that this hardware (monitor, desktop or tower unit, keyboard, mouse etc.) will continue to be usable and useful. Good hardware management should include as many of the items from the checklist as possible.

Software Management

This has more to do with the handling, storing & ordering of software, than the actual purchasing of software for the school. Software selection is dealt with in the area on Software Evaluation. The software in any school needs to be minded like any other resource material.

Classroom Management

The general area of classroom management probably includes a number of elements. These may relate or cross reference with hardware and software management, but have a real influence on the actual success or failure of managing ICT. WE need to examine a number of issues:

Time Management

Among the attributes of effective teachers was Time Management. As professional educators you have become adept at restructuring timetables to incorporate new ideas and procedures. The use of computers is a cross-curricular activity. Thus they should fit into an existing structure or be part of as many activities as possible. The questions arise:

‘What do I do with the rest of the class while I am at the computer with 2/3 pupils?

‘What use is one computer at the back of the room?’

This answer to these types of questions probably lies in the section on Planning. There is however one question on time management that is more difficult to resolve:

Should we have the computers in the classrooms or would it be better to have them all together in a computer room. In terms of Time Management it makes life much easier for the administrators to have a computer room as classes can be given allotted times to use the facility and larger numbers of children can have simultaneous hands on experience.

(10-Minute discussion on the pros and cons of utilising a computer room as an alternative to having the computers in the various classrooms.)

Different situations will suit different locations, facilities, preferences, teaching styles and the needs of the children. If we are serious about the integration of ICT into the curriculum then the ideal of having both dedicated rooms and access to computers in the classrooms should be considered.

Computer Room Vs Computer in the Classroom

  1. Indicate what level of the school you are presently dealing with.
    Junior
    Middle
    Senior
  2. Have you used a computer room only?
    Have you used computers in the classroom only?
    Have you used both situations?
    Have you used neither situation?
  3. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best score) in which room did you feel most in control of the computer equipment.
    Circle the appropriate score
    Computer room 1 2 3 4 5
    Computer in classroom 1 2 3 4 5
  4. Would you say that:
    In the computer room children were more or less attentive to the computer activity in hand
    More
    Less
  5. Would you as a teacher
    Prefer to use the computer room
    Prefer to have the computer in the classroom
    Prefer to have both options at various times
  6. Which was the most productive in terms of hands on time
    Computer room
    Computer in Classroom
  7. How many pupils attend the school?
  8. How many computers in your school
  9. Are your computers mainly
    in a computer room
    or in the classroom
  10. Weekly hands on time for children ( in hours )
    Computer Room
    Classroom
  11. Circle one:
    Urban
    Rural
  12. Circle one:
    Mixed
    Single Sex

Planning

Like any other part of the curriculum the ICT work must be structured and planned. This should be done in conjunction with school policy, the skill level of the teacher, the availability of suitable software and taking cognisance of pupil computer ratios. A number of practical considerations should be observed.

Integration

Look around – see how many of the work places of today have usefully integrated computers to some extent. We must do the same in an educational context. ICT is a new tool of education and by integrating the technology across as broad a range of the curriculum as possible we as educators are broadening the horizons of possibility for our pupils. What therefore does integration mean? Essentially it means that we use the software at our disposal to extend a broad range of skills in the children. The computer then is not only what the children learn about, it is what they learn through and perhaps with, even though part of the process may depend on computer usage. Children get access to multiple resources and multiple activities that will often demand collaboration. This collaborative approach will place demands on planning and teaching styles.

There are a number of frameworks for technology integration. One recent presentation that is very practical is the NTeQ Model as proposed by Deborah L. Lowthar and Gary R. Morrison in 1998, as part of project SMART.

This model sets a planning process for ICT lessons. This process has 10 stages:

  1. Specify Objectives
  2. What Computer functions will be used
  3. Specify a problem to be solved
  4. Plan how to manipulate and organise the data to solve the problem
  5. How will the results be presented
  6. Activities prior to using the computer
  7. Activities while using the computer
  8. Activities after using the computer
  9. Supporting activities (At any stage of the project)
  10. Evaluation of the learning, the software, the process and the outcome.

This model could be applied to pieces of software that you are already familiar with such as ‘The Map Detective’ or ‘Tizzy’s Toybox’ so that using this software would be part of an integrated approach to ICT in the classrooms.

10-minute discussion on the one of the software packages in relation to the NteQ Model as a framework for technology integration.

A note on e-mail & WWW an Classroom Management

Copyright

see the BECTA web site at – http:\\www.becta.org