Friday 15 January 2016

Lesson Planning Taking Up All of Your Precious Time? Let Technology Help!

A recent Guardian article, “New Year resolutions made easy: six ways to improve lesson planning” hit the nail on the head when it comes to lesson planning, “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that planning, while a necessary part of teaching, can be a huge drain on teachers’ time.”

The article goes on to recommend a selection of true and trusted tricks to get a teacher their time back. You work a full day as it is! Why should you have to spend your nights buried under a mountain of paperwork and planning materials? I can still remember the long hours I spent during my TESOL training, researching and planning for the next morning, always sure there had to be an easier way!

Second on the list (we’ll let it go this time Guardian!) is technology. “Technology is your friend” the article cries in bold lettering.

“My planning is done electronically and I would certainly encourage others to do the same. I have all my lessons for the year in Outlook and can add notes to each entry. An app like iDoceo is also great for planning lessons, and can be backed up using Google Drive or other cloud services. If I need to plan in collaboration with colleagues, I use Google Drive to create shared documents which we can all contribute to.

Matt Britland is director of ICT at The Lady Eleanor Holles School.”

Technology really can be the asset teachers have needed for decades. Saving and editing existing lesson plans, from whichever tech device is your preference this season, could be your saving grace. The hours you could reclaim from the planning beast could amount to irreplaceable time with your own children, working on a personal interest or hobby, time simply to relax and have some ‘you time’.

Some of these apps have some limitations however, and only offer shared calendars and few real solutions. Many apps are stand alone and have limited functionality, so although they can do their single job very well it does limit the number of ways they can help you save time.

My Learning UK Ltd would (of course) recommend a VLE. It’s a safe hub where teachers can share materials, ideas, content and even just their thoughts. No need for a Google Drive, no need to log in and out of an application. Do it all from a single place.

We think it’s the better option because of the ease of access and the sharing capabilities a VLE can offer. Another great aspect of using VLE software is it's accessible from any device, you can begin planning your lesson on the train home (for those commuter educators) using a tablet, IPad or even your mobile.

The Guardian article also argues “Teach less, but more often”- “Each teacher, department and school will have their own constraints but a reasonable ambition might be to plan for each lesson to return to material taught in the previous lesson, and to do so again before the end of the school year.”

Keeping learning materials available on you VLE allows students to revisit past lessons, and for you to remind them that they’re there. As a university student one of the most helpful things available to me was the university’s single sign on learning space. I could access all of the learning materials that my lecturers had uploaded, not just from the current year of study, but from all previous years as well. I could return to old lectures that had once again become relevant, or even just enjoy reading over past class discussions and debates.

“Keep all your one place.”- Jack Askew teaches English at Teaching ESL Online.

Whether you’ve decided a VLE is the way to go, or you’re keeping things personal and planning alone, technology does offer a multitude of solutions.