The rapid growth of new technologies has a significant impact on education. Most schools offer (and prioritize) technology curriculum, but today, students are using technology more than ever before. The challenge of this digital revolution is finding new ways to incorporate the ever-changing technologies into meaningful lessons in the classroom. Cyber Science 3D presents three creative ways to take education beyond computer class.
1. Use a unique classroom #hashtag.
#Hashtags are a way to integrate students’ posts that are appended with your specific hashtag. Twitter and Instagram are popular social media outlets for ‘hashtagging.’ Teachers can create their own unique hashtag that students tag into class-related posts. Students and teachers can easily search for their classmates’ social media posts by searching for the class hashtag. Make sure your hashtag is distinctive enough to ensure only your students are using it (this way, only your classroom posts will show up when searching your hashtag – not a mix of random posts from any Twitter user). For example, using your school or university name with the name of your class and current semester (e.g., #UIScienceSpring15) is a foolproof method of creating a distinctive hashtag.
2. Collaborate on a class blog.
Using a classroom blog has a number of benefits. Teachers can treat their blogs as a newsletter to update parents and students on classroom happenings — or, teachers can use them for writing assignments and student collaboration. Websites like Kidblog.org and Edublogger allow teachers and students to have individual blogs as part of a whole classroom blog. Students should practice writing on a regular basis, but most teachers do not want to assign papers on top of papers. Make writing a fun exercise by assigning blog posts every week — these posts can range from short book reviews to formal research reports. Blogs are also a great tool for fueling discussion. Encourage students to post one or two comments a week on the classroom blog, or feature a question of the week that students must answer in a comment.
3. Make activities interactive with QR codes.
Not sure what a QR code is? These pixel-y little boxes can be found nearly anywhere — from your grocery store aisle to a page in a magazine. Smartphone users can scan QR codes using a free digital scanner app. Once the phone reads the unique code, it opens up an informational webpage with additional information about a product or service. Take this example: a consumer is considering purchasing a new brand of cereal at her local grocery store. She is not familiar with the brand name and wants to learn more about the company. She notices a QR code on the cereal box. The consumer takes out her smartphone, opens a (pre-downloaded) digital scanning app, and scans the QR code on the box. Her phone then directs her to a webpage full of additional information about the new cereal company. She decides she likes the company and buys their cereal. QR codes are not limited to products. Teachers can use QR codes in the classroom to make activities and assignments interactive. For example, students can scan QR codes to check answers for assignments. (See this teacher’s QR code classroom guide for more ideas.) To get started, use a free QR code generator to create your own scan-able box. Students can use any smartphone or tablet device with a camera to scan the code. When students scan your classroom QR, they will be redirected to a website, video, or customized information from you — you decide!