Ask the Experts: Incorporating Technology

Q: I would love to start incorporating all the technology you talk about into my own classroom, but I’m almost completely computer-illiterate. Help me! Where should I start?

A: There are many people out there who are so overwhelmed by technology as a concept that they choose to avoid it completely. Given the speed at which things change, it’s an understandable attitude. So where do you start? You’re a teacher—where would you start with a beginner?

I believe it’s important to give my students processes for self-discovery, which is why I believe that understanding how a computer operates, or thinks, should be your first task. Once you understand the general principles, you’ll be able to find what you need in a program—even if you’ve never used it before. I would recommend getting a MacBook (a laptop computer from Apple), since the company’s products are so easy to use. Apple offers many tutorials on its website, but you’ll be in even better shape if you live anywhere near an Apple Store. The stores regularly hold free workshops, and their customer service is tops.

Once you’ve mastered computer basics, start integrating technology into your classroom one thing at a time. I’d recommend starting with something that you could use to present materials, like Keynote, which is an app to create a slide show. There’s extensive online support and troubleshooting tactics if you encounter difficulties.

These days most technology classes are actually online videos that you watch as you work at your own pace. If you find yourself still struggling with the basics, find a class in your area taught by a human being with whom you can actually have a conversation.

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends Seminary in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty of the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

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