Technology and psychology in teaching
Perhaps you expected a technological description here? Well, we thought we'd write down a few of our psychological experiences from using our software in the classroom and keep away from technological descriptions here.
Learning and fun
"I'm happy," said the little girl, and did a twirl. She'd just finished a butterfly module for about the dozenth time. She didn't have everything right yet, but the software had rewarded her with a bunch of kitschy shields, cups and stars, drum rolls, tings and rounds of applause. She knew she'd learnt a lot of names and could go outside in the summer and know all the butterflies she saw. And she knew that if she played some more, there were better shields and cups and stars waiting for her, and loads of points. She felt good about herself. She had a sense of achievement, as well as some challenges still waiting for her.
For some teachers it's obvious, for others less so: learning is more effective when it's fun. Fun is actually a lot more than kitschy iconic rewards and a few sound effects, but they help. The fun is really in the subtle and effective combination of things like artwork and media, interactivity, responsiveness and the gradation of the learning curve. There is loads of educational software on the market - the question is, which software gets the mix right?
Professionalism and pride in the teacher
You come into the classroom the following term and ask a question about something from the previous term. Instead of the classic holidays-over what-does-he-want-from-us-now reaction, the class all grin widely and sheepishly chorus the answer, as if to say "This isn't normal for us, but we just had such fun we couldn't help but learn it". And you know from the atmosphere that they're just hanging on your every word in expectation of what you can do next. A teacher's dream perhaps - but we've watched and experienced it.
One of the skills of a great teacher is leadership. By that we mean the ability to project an aura of professionalism that draws the students behind you and allows you to do more with them than others can because of their faith in you. It's exceptionally difficult for any teacher to attain this. Some of it has to do with personality, which we can't help you with. But there are also tricks of the trade where we can help. A couple of classic tricks are being the author of the best schoolbook on the subject (and the class knows it) or having the best website in the school. The trouble is that publishing companies may not always recognize your genius or have a slot for another author, and not every great teacher is a great website designer. Qedoc teaching modules can combine something of both of these, though. Create a great educational module, and your name is set there professionally at the front, just as with a schoolbook. And the Qedoc software also clothes your creativity in great design. Providing a great educational module that is fun to use and really trains students for great exam results is something which can genuinely inspire your students and boost their confidence in you.
Most of us have seen them in the classroom - the tough loser-types who prefer the back row. Sometimes we give up on them, but in some cases the right methods (if we had time) might turn them around. Students like this may ultimately be left cold by the professionalism and personality of even the best teacher. But peer pressure and classroom spirit offer another possible way through the armour. If a class is having fun with an online learning community (a kind of internet score ladder or hall-of-fame automatically attached to every learning module made with our software), the pressure to join in can be significant. Halls-of-fame and high-scores may also be easily comprehensible to the losers of the class, because it could well be that they waste a lot of their time getting high-scores on Playstation/X-Box shoot-em-ups or racing games in their bedrooms. If you can get a poorly performing student "hooked" on an educational module in this way, they can suddenly experience the feeling of being good at learning, and it may be something they've never actually felt before. It could change their world. Would you take the chance that it wouldn't?
Our teaching tools
To get started, try these links:
- The Qedoc Quiz Player: students install this free programme
on their computers to run the modules you create. Visit...
- The Qedoc Quiz Maker: this is where you create
interactive educational modules to fit in with your courses. The Quiz Maker has been
designed to turn your ideas into professional-looking, interactive learning games
with a minimum of time and effort. Visit...