Technology in the Classroom

Any teacher worth his or her salt is a technical pro these days. My grandmother remembers her classrooms days as a student in a huge college humanities class where AV was used regularly, especially for the lecturer in art history. The poor professor had to lug two heavy projectors and carousels full of slides across campus. If she wanted to include musical accompaniment, then there was further stuff to tote. The hall did have some ability to utilize this modest equipment and there were speakers and microphones of course. But it was primitive at best.

Thank goodness everything has evolved. Such a professor can now use PowerPoint where the images and music can be in synch and where artworks can dissolve one into another with elegance. Special labeling makes the material stand out. The projector is now in the lecture hall and she can use her own laptop or the one in place. Students may not notice the difference, but it makes for far less stress and anxiety about things going wrong. The slides are no longer upside down from misplacement. The music doesn’t require an old tape machine and a reel that can break. The old laser pointer and microphones are there but are hopefully state of the art.

The computer has perhaps been the greatest gift to instructors. No more mimeographing anything. If you don’t want to simply print your tests, you can have students take them online. They can be mechanically scored and scaled. Record keeping is great. Each class or student can have separate files You can archive old material for reuse at a glance.

So the new scenario for the art history teacher is standing on the stage or classroom platform, laser pointer in hand and a laptop within reach on a table or lectern. The pace of the presentation can be controlled and even stopped for comments and questions. The room need not be as dark as it once was to allow for eye contact. The instructor is no longer victim to breakdowns and errors. If she had put her slides in the carousel incorrectly, there was no going back! PowerPoint is a magical program easily adaptable to any environment or subject. You can use the school logo as your template or a personal one with which you can always be identified. You can embed videos such as a pan through a museum gallery or an artist explaining his work.

In small classrooms, smart boards are vital for a stream-lined experience. They are interactive and professional. You can get your school to purchase just the right one for your teaching needs. The best institutions will have them and upgrade as needed. No more blackboards and dirty erasers. No more white boards and nasty marking pens. Kids love the smart boards, but adult education also has multiple uses. Linked to a computer, the possibilities are endless.

Electing to teach at any level is more enjoyable and rewarding for all parties involved with the help of technology. Online research yields instant information about how to use it and make lectures and lesson plans visually exciting and rich in content. You have to be a little more savvy, but it now goes with the territory.