5 Must-Haves For Geek Teachers
As the geek generation grows up, many of use are finding themselves working in the education system, sharing our love of film, art and computers with the youth of today. If you are looking to geek up your classrooms, here’s where to start…
1. Data Projector
Seriously, who uses a whiteboard any more? It’s messy, at the end of every lesson you have to wipe all your working away and start over, it gives a limited amount of space, pens are constantly running dry or being swiped for nose candy…these are all restrictions of a pre-computer age!
A brief moment it looked like the future had arrived with the introduction of the Smartboard, and interactive whiteboard that shows your computer desktop and allowed teachers to drag items using special pointers. After school coughed up thousands of dollars for these magical items it was quickly revealed that they were crap. The ‘screen’ was small, the applications were limited and teachers were constantly scuttling back and forth between the board and their computer.
The next step in classroom evolution is needed, and people are realising that everything they need is already right there. One computer, data projector and VGA cable later and all the functionality of a computer is available to your whiteboard. Play videos, switch to word documents that can be edited on the fly and saved for future reference, powerpoints, websites – if you’re not already doing this, you’re only restricting yourself.
2. Wireless Mouse and Keyboard
So now you’re teaching on your data projector…you don’t want to spend the whole lesson sitting behind your computer, do you? Hell no! Teacher requires movement and interaction! Plus you gotta keep an eye on those little monkeys…difficult to do from behind a monitor.
Enter a wireless mouse and keyboard, easily and cheaply obtained from any electronic goods retailer and effective enough to work from anywhere in your learning space. Now you can remain on your feet while keeping the information moving from any point in the room.
Here’s a fact for you: every 60 seconds that pass there is another 24 hours of footage uploaded onto youtube. For every three minute clip you watch another three days worth has been added. The sheer amount of information available on youtube, and being added every day, is simply mind-boggling. At some point youtube will create a rift in the space/time continuum and be the end of us all.
In the meantime it is the most important resource teachers have in the modern world. No matter what your topic is there is going to be something interesting on youtube to help. Shakespeare performances, historical re-enactments, science experiments, political speeches – the list is long and getting longer.
Being a media teacher means that it’s important that I can play media files quickly and efficiently. This issue isn’t restricted to me and mine though – as technology plays an increasingly important role in education systems more and more teachers are encountering one major issue: incompatibility.
You’re using Windows, your student did their work on a mac. They used a compression software you don’t have. Endless situations occur when mis-matched software slows down the teaching process. Enter VLC – a media player that is free and easily available from their website. It will play any format of media without fail. Get it and set it to your default now.
Teaching? There’s an app for that! Available on the App Store are several applications designed for teachers or can be utilised for teachers. ‘Educate’ is an all-in-one organising that keeps track of attendance, grades, timetables and lessons as well as one-touch email functions for contacting parents. Suddenly the briefcase full of papers has been reduced to a small portion of your phones data storage.
Also available are apps that allow you to connect with student computers to supply them with multiple-choice questions, collect their answers and collate the data in real time. I’ve also found the Big Button sound effect app very effective for managing the class once it’s been hooked up to a good set of speakers. Nothing silences a class quite like a full volume jack hammer!