It is important to have one’s priorities right when deciding on what tools to use in teaching. While the curriculum may stress the importance of digital literacy and the use of modern tools, the important thing is to concentrate on the pedagogical dimension. While, e g, using presentation software and computer projection may simplify the production and updating of slides, it does not in itself imply any pedagogical changes, and thus not necessarily any improved learning by the pupils. The aim must be the use of digital tools in teaching to allow learning that is otherwise difficult to achieve, this includes, but is not restricted to:
- Interactive animations and visualisations of processes or objects;
- Self-directed studies by pupils;
- Support for students with reading/writing disabilities.
We can further divide the types of tools as:
- Tools used by the teacher only. These are for example animations, demonstrations, and such.
- Tools that are shared by the class, and used under teacher supervision. This may for example be Smartboards used in turns by pupils and teachers, or video conferencing software to communicate with people elsewhere.
- Tools used independently by the pupils. This may be the use of search engines, or word processors, but also interactive simulations, modelling software, or programming environments.
Tools that are used mostly unsupervised have the problem that while they are useful for learning, they are also a cause for distraction, or to be precise, the devices the tools run on—computers and mobile phones—run all kinds of other software that can be distracting even if the tool itself is not. Avoiding these distractions requires a level of self-discipline that pupils do not necessarily have, so may require closer supervision by the teacher.
We list here a set of tools that we have tested within the project, with suggestions on how to use them and in what context.