There are things that teachers carry with them all the time. If you search through my teaching bag you are going to find index cards, dice, playing cards, magnets and spare markers. We all learn through experience what to put in our toolkits, and the same is true for digital teaching toolkits.
I haven’t invented the wheel, my digital teaching toolkit was the result of talking to colleagues, sharing ideas with friends, and app suggestions via Teaching English – British Council. Several of the suggestions here come from Owen Kozlowski, a teacher trainer who has spoken at JALT conferences and run in-house training workshops on using technology in the classroom.
PART ONE: The things I carry with me
“No WiFi, no smart boards and other wonders of the eduworld.”
This is a quote from another blogger. I hope she doesn’t mind me using it, but it was so catchy and it became part of the inspiration for this post. For that reason, I would like to thank her.
I’ve taught in classrooms with no internet access, and classrooms with unreliable internet access. I carry two things with me that help.
A Portable WiFi Device
I use mobile WiFi, which allows several devices to connect to the internet through it. Previously, I had used a ‘dongle’, a USB stick that allows you connect to the internet. The disadvantage of a portable WiFi device is that you are paying additional money.
A Device with WiFi Tethering
WiFi tethering is an option which allows you to connect to the internet via your mobile phone. I previously had WiFi tethering on a HTC Android and I opted for WiFi tethering with my iPhone.
With the iPhone there are three principal ways to tether the phone. WiFi, Bluetooth and connection via USB. With my HTC Android I usually only connected via the USB cable. Additionally, there are WiFi tethering apps available but I haven’t explored them and I don’t know how secure they are.
The disadvantage is that you are limited by your phone’s data usage (unless you have unlimited internet access) and signal strength. However if you have no internet access in your classroom, maybe it is worth checking if your phone has a WiFi tethering option.
No Smart Boards
I carry my device and the correct adapter, so I can use all my device’s resources on a monitor or projector.
Devices and Adapters
There are VGA adapters and HDMI adapters available for Apple products, Android products and Microsoft’s Surface.
At the moment I have VGA adapters for my Surface and for my iPhone. It allows me to connect my device to an external monitor or projector (sometimes an additional cable is required).
If you don’t have a smart board, but your classroom has a projector or your school has a spare monitor, you can connect your device.
Once your device is connected you will be able to:
- Use your installed apps
- Use your phone’s data connection to access the internet and show the class
- Show videos and photos that are stored on your phone
With the Surface, there are projection options and you can set it to PC screen only before navigating. As far as I know, with the iPhone your phone’s screen is copied and projected. Disconnect the adapter before navigating your phone if you wish to avoid displaying any personal data.
There are a couple of other things I carry with me that I find helpful.
A Portable Bluetooth Speaker
A mini Bluetooth speaker may fool you with its size but they can produce a sound around 70-75 dB, which is certainly loud enough to use in a classroom.
If you have ever experienced CD players that skip or classroom speakers that for an unknown reason aren’t working, a mini speaker in your bag can be a real life saver.
It also gives you the option to record sound with your phone and play it back through the portable speaker.
A Mini Bluetooth Keyboard
I also carry a mini Bluetooth keyboard (that also acts as a mouse) because it allows me to control my Surface or a PC from a distance and I don’t need to be in a static position in the classroom.
And as far as I understand remote connection options are also available between Apple products.
Putting a Digital Teaching Toolkit together
Where did I start?
I started with my device and my mobile phone.
I considered these questions.
- What features does it have?
- What can complement it?
- Does it have a practical application that can help my teaching?