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Get the most from your touchscreen

Top tips for teachers

Are you getting the most out of your touchscreen? Education adviser Sue Cook wants to make sure you are…

Sue Cook, a former primary, secondary and SEN school teacher is passionate about improving learning outcomes in the digital classroom. Now a product specialist for interactive touchscreen brand, Clevertouch, Sue teaches the teachers how to get the most out of their interactive classroom technology. From her experience of providing training in schools, she is concerned that teachers aren’t getting enough support to make the most of the educational opportunities that their touchscreen brings to the classroom.

“When I was teaching, we used older style, single point interactive whiteboards and projectors, which offered little scope for classroom collaboration,” she observes. “Participation from students was limited to one child at a time, which made it harder to cater for all styles of learners and I would spend many hours creating resources to engage every pupil in my class.”

“The software and technology available today makes building engaging, collaborative lessons very easy, which frees up teachers’ time and lets them focus on what’s important.”

Training and confidence

In Cook’s experience, lack of training and confidence using the technology is a significant barrier. Many teachers carry on using their interactive screens as whiteboards and as a result, aren’t making the most of the resource or the school’s investment. Sue believes that not involving teachers in the planning and implementation of the technology from the outset and not having a provision for training is a major part of the problem.

“Many teachers return after the summer holidays to find a new interactive touchscreen in their classroom,” she explains. “Yet they have idea how to access the features, which would enable them to make the learning process more encompassing and engaging for all styles of learners. Running a class leaves very little time for teachers to experiment, so they continue to use the screen in a linear learning style, with old resources.”

Learn together

Reiterating that teachers need to be encouraged to experiment and capitalise on many of the features and software that come with their touchscreen, she continues, “If time is short, don’t be afraid to learn with your pupils. Interactive technology unites everyone in a classroom, increasing engagement and participation from even the most reluctant learners. It creates a dynamic learning experience with more teamwork, collaboration and positive outcomes for everyone.”

Sue’s top tips:

  • Many teachers fear that their pupils are more tech savvy than they are. Instead of worrying about it, get the class involved in your learning journey, make it a team effort from the start
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are unsure about something – most manufacturers offer free phone support
  • Make full use of all the support resources available – websites, training, forums etc
  • Start small – begin by setting yourself a target of using your screen for a few lessons a week and build up from there as your confidence grows
  • Share your experiences with your fellow teachers. Five-minute peer-to-peer sessions are a great way of learning new techniques and product features
  • If you feel you aren’t using your screen to its full potential, contact your manufacturer or installer to book training/coaching. Most offer training that fits around the school day including twilight or INSET sessions
  • For schools who are about to choose an interactive touchscreen, consider having one on loan for a week to let teachers and system managers try it out before making a decision
  • Schedule an initial training session immediately after new screens have been installed to run through basic features and give staff pointers on how to incorporate them into lessons
  • For optimum results, a second training session will give staff a chance to address specific questions and progress

From Technology and Innovation Magazine, 2017/18 edition

The software and technology available today makes building engaging, collaborative lessons very easy, which frees up teachers’ time and lets them focus on what’s important.