You have probably heard some of the alarming stories out there about children being targeted and groomed by pedophiles via online chat sites. And the chances are that you’ve discovered for yourself just how easy it is to accidentally stumble onto inappropriate material online that would be very upsetting for children to see or read. One of the big problems with the internet that put many teachers off using it in their classrooms is that the internet gives access to… everything. However, this is not reason to become a reactionary and return to using nothing but chalkboards and books in your class. Technology still has a place, even if you use nothing other than educational DVDs and educational videos to enhance your lesson.
However, if you want to look a little further afield than just the educational DVDs that your school (or you) have in the resource room, the internet still contains a wealth of information, and wireless technology also has its uses for communicating with students and parents even during vacations. Many schools find that setting up a good security system with members-only area for certain material (e.g. a teacher’s DIY educational videos made by recording a lesson or a classroom presentation and posting this online) can solve many problems, as well as having good blocking software.
The internet can be a scary place for a newcomer to the world of the world wide web. If you are unfamiliar with the internet and online teaching tools, then it is important that you try to upskill so you can give your students the opportunities and the skills that they need. However, if you really can’t face it, you should still make sure that you keep on using educational videos in the meantime – many of the skills you need to know for using educational DVDs in your lesson are applicable to using online tools such as YouTube.
And remember that even videos and DVDs have their pitfalls. While most G-rated videos and DVDs that an elementary school teacher would probably choose for part of a lesson are OK for most students, things with higher ratings (PG and higher) can be problematic. High school teachers have to exercise even more discretion. It’s important to preview all videos, whether they’re educational videos or not. This cannot be stressed enough for high school literature classes on popular Shakespearean dramas – some productions of Romeo and Juliet can be alarmingly raunchy, and Macbeth has the potential for plenty of gore and horror scenes.
When you start using online tools, you should ask plenty of questions about any security system that blocks inappropriate websites before your and your school pay valuable resource money for it. The older type of blocking software tended to over-simplify things somewhat, and would block any sites that had certain words in them (e.g. “sex”), which often ended up blocking perfectly benign sites, such as a website with information on a British stately home in Sussex. And some well-intentioned biology teachers ended up receiving an automatically-generated warning if they ran an internet search for material on, say, sex-linked genetic traits.
But don’t let the words “technology integration” scare you. Standard methods for using media in your elementary lessons are still the benchmark for an effective lesson, and if you can use educational DVDs, you should easily be able to adapt to using online tools. And videos are still the safest way of using multimedia in your classroom. Technology should be seen as just another tool in your lesson-not the lesson.