Saturday, September 18, 2010

Technology in the Classroom

Engaging students can be a real challenge especially if the classroom is set up as a computer lab environment. Some students who feel that they know the material tend to disconnect from the main discussion and get distracted with sites related to social networking, shopping, gaming, etc.

NetOp provides a great classroom solution. NetOp Classroom Management software allows the instructor to manage and take control of student workstations. One of the most useful features is the ability to display any student's screen on the projector by simply selecting it from a list. This list shows the login account name of each student along with the workstation number.

In my classroom, I teach Excel and Access to Business students. There are 30 workstations numbered 1 - 30. I normally print a copy of the class roster which is sorted by the login account names. Though NetOp software only shows the account name, I can use the roster to quickly determine any student's name.

First, I break up the day's material into several small objectives. Each objective is long enough to require no more than 5-7 minutes.

Next, I use to randomly select a student who will work through the first objective for the day. With the student doing the clicking/typing to show how to use a particular feature of the software application, I can walk around the classroom holding a laser-pointer, as I explain the intricacies of the steps in progress and help anyone who feels lost.

This accomplishes many objectives:
  • Students know they will be called upon, so they feel complelled to complete every step.
  • It keeps unrelated surfing/gaming off from the students' workstations.
  • It gives me mobility, as the chosen student is demonstrating the necessary steps.
  • Helps me learn students' names, as I call out the randomly selected person's name.
  • Helps students learn names of other students.

Here is an example list of objectives from the Excel charting chapter:

  1. Create a 2-D pie chart
  2. Format individual pie chart components
  3. Use predefined styles
  4. Update source range and data
  5. ...

Next, let's say that generates the number 19. The list of students in NetOp shows the login account next to the workstation number 19 and let's assume it is "awilson". I look at the roster sorted by login accounts and without any delay, I determine the studet's name is "Amanda Wilson". So, I announce something like, "Amanda will get us started on Pie charts today. Are you ready Amanda?"

All-in-all NetOp Classroom Management software has been a great tool for keeping students engaged and bridging the gap between teaching and learning.

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