Utilizing Technology to Teach Sexuality

Students of all ages now have access to a variety of technologies, but schools and educational settings have been slow to adapt to changes in technology and incorporate them into classrooms, aside from the ubiquitous PowerPoint.  Integrating technology into education is a great way to engage students in learning that is fun and engages students with different learning styles and preferences.  Using technology in classrooms also encourages students to take a more active role in learning, instead of always having the educator disseminate knowledge.  Depending on the technology used, these activities can also encourage creativity and critical thinking using technology and media that is already familiar to students.

Laptops and Computers

Computers can be used for a wide range of activities in the classroom, allowing students to do activities that cover all areas of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.  Educators can use Twitter in the classroom to discuss sexuality in the media or to gather data for projects.  Students and teachers can use sites such as WikiSpaces to collaborate on projects, such as videos that are posted to YouTube or blogs about their work.

iPads and Tablets

Bloom’s Taxonomy for iPads

iPads and tablets are intuitive and easy to use for most students, regardless of their age and abilities.  A wide variety of apps are available for students, as well as teachers to use in the classroom, in all subjects.  For example, anatomy apps such as Visual Anatomy (also available for Android) can be used to help students better visualize reproductive anatomy during biology, health, or sex ed classes.

Other apps, such as Birdees, are specifically geared towards sexuality education.  Birdees, available in the Apple app store, is geared towards children ages 2-8 and their parents, and helps children learn age and developmentally appropriate information about body parts, boundaries, and other aspects of sexual health.  Information geared for ages 9-15 is supposed to be available soon.

Smart Phones

Many students carry smart phones, and instead of thinking of phones as problematic, educators can utilize phones to their advantage.  For example, programs such as Poll Everywhere can be used in the classroom to assess student learning.  Poll Everywhere allows students to use their cellphones as clickers – even if they aren’t smart phones.  Teachers pose a question to the class and students respond via text message, Twitter, or web browser, and results are tallied and displayed on the screen.  For more information, see this blog post.

Most apps that are available for iPads and other tablets are also available for smart phones and could provide students with resources or access to information both at home or in the classroom.  Sexuality educators may recommend apps such as SexPositive (available through both Android and Apple), a shame-free and comprehensive resource that provides information about STI risks, safer sex practices, and communication for a wide variety of sexual behaviors.

Multi-Platform Apps and Programs

Many apps and programs are available on a variety of devices.  Socrative is similar to Poll Everywhere in that it allows educators to gather student responses to questions electronically.  It is available via apps through the Android and Apple stores, and is also available to any device with an internet connection.  It provides more flexibility than Poll Everywhere regarding question types, allows student names to be attached to responses (for administering quizzes), and is free regardless of the number of students in the classroom.  For more information, see this blog post.

Other Resources

Why integrate technology into the classroom?  The reasons are many

Effects of technology on classrooms and students

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14 responses to “Utilizing Technology to Teach Sexuality

  1. Pingback: Utilizing Technology to Teach Sexuality | Elliot K. Love·

  2. The most compelling reasons to utilize technology is that it connects students to experts in the real world while providing numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through images, sound, and text.

  3. This has been the most informative discussion about technology integration that I have read all year. I often found myself thinking about how I can do X, Y, or Z and you have discussed (and posted links!) to all of them. I was reminded of a lecture i heard about how integrating technology has become an insult to technology by using videos to make boring lectures digital boring lectures and calling it integration. This article is exactly what that lecturer was talking about! I can’t wait to use them in the classroom.

    • Exactly! Utilizing technology and media in the classroom can encompass SO much, and it’s time we actually embrace technology and use it to our and our student’s advantage.

  4. “Using technology in classrooms also encourages students to take a more active role in learning, instead of always having the educator disseminate knowledge.” This is SO key! Why not utilize potential technological distractions to the benefit of education instead of trying to keep students’ focus with out-dated teaching techniques? Students are spending more time on their mobile devices than ever before so why not empower students to use this new technology more effectively? Thanks for bringing this important discussion to life!

  5. This post is so useful. The compilation of apps that you did is pretty awesome. I am always trying to innovate in my classes so this is going to be very useful. I believe it is important that the students participate in the class in a more active way and also that the connection with the class can persist even during the weekend.

  6. One thing I like to do with smart phones is have students look up information if there’s a question. Rather than just me answering a fact-based question, I asked students to look up the information. A sneaky way to get them involved in research! And if a couple of students get differing responses, so much the better as I can then get them talking about how sources are or are not trustworthy or unbiased and how to evaluate information.

  7. Annalisa – I love that idea! (for some reason WordPress is not letting me reply to comments :()
    I don’t know if any of you would have heard about this, but in the early 2000s, Maine was one of the first states (the only state?) to give laptops to middle school kids as a way of embracing technology as a platform for student learning. My class was actually the first class they did this on, so unfortunately I feel like my class missed out on a lot of things because of lack of foresight and preparation. It seemed like rather than embracing the new technology, my teachers spent 40% of their time troubleshooting tech issues and 30% of their time trying to prevent us from misusing the devices (what I learned in middle school: hormones are the worst and I am awesome at solitaire). Granted, as I said, this was early 2000s so people were still pretty freaked out about technology in general, and it wasn’t nearly as advanced as it is now, but I feel like they definitely could have utilized it more creatively to enhance student learning.

  8. Yes, yes, yes! I’m so happy to see this post, especially after how much this topic came up in Sex Ed in the School Setting with Dr. Schroeder this past semester. The idea of embracing technologies that kids are comfortable with in order to better reach them is something that I very strongly feel should be adopted. While technology can help us connect to one another in so many ways, it also provides a certain level of anonymity, which can help people to open up. For example, CHOICE, an organization based in Philadelphia, has a text-message hotline which people can use to ask questions about sex and sexuality instead of having to muster up the courage to call and speak to a live human. I think it’s very important that we not only use technology in the classroom, but also provide our students with resources that utilize technology outside of the classroom. Great post, Elliot, and excellent responses, everyone 🙂

  9. I think technology is hugely important in the discussion of human sexuality and the dissemination of important information. In social work, it is called “meeting the client where they are.” Young people are using technology to communicate with one another about everything so speaking their language technologically will hopefully make human sexuality information more accessible. That being said, because it would also be easy to hide behind the technology, I believe we need too commit to using technology as a tool rather than as a crutch. how do we as educators encourage a bridge between the use of technology and face to face/open discussion. This blog is a great example of such a bridge. It starts online but will move to the classroom for further discussion. I like the clickers for this reason as well. The clickers allow for technology but make space for real time dialogue.

  10. I appreciate your approach to using technology within a classroom setting. Many times educators take on a lecturing style role when facilitating a lesson which may be boring to some learners. Research does show that teachers, after lecturing for more than 15 minutes, tend to have a class of students who are no longer engaged in the material. I agree with your comment on how technology can encourage creativity and critical thinking as I believe that technology can propagate a higher-level of thinking among students. Using Poll Everywhere is a great example of cooperative learning as students work in groups and interact with one another rather than the lesson be a teacher focused mode of instruction. In addition, it can maintain a student’s anonymity. Unfortunately, I often feel that teachers are in strong opposition when it comes to student’s using their personal cell phones within a classroom. Currently, the most technology that I am using is SMARTBOARD technology which is interactive and engaging. I often find it amusing when teachers do not know how to use their own SMART BOARD equipment as it clearly indicates that they either are reluctant in using it or have not had the proper training. We have to be able to keep up with our own students by incorporating technology within our classrooms and presentations.

  11. I love your approach to technology in the classroom. I think the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy is my favorite. I would not consider myself tech savvy at all, but I am all for technology in the classroom I just have to be taught how to use it. I love the apps you gave for apple and android for all ages. I think I’m going to pass those on to my sister and cousin. I think it is very important that we use technology in the classroom because it is such a huge presence in the classroom these days. I think we should learn to work with technology to enhance their learning experience.

  12. Mind. Blown. I LOVE the Bloom’s Taxonomy and am about to download ALL THE APPS!! Thank you for including images and refernces to the actual apps…I often read about how effective using technology can be in a broad, generic sort of context, but when it comes down to actually utilizing it, I am totally overwhelmed by all of the available apps and am never sure which ones to download. This is really helpful 🙂
    I also love that you mentioned Socrative and Poll everywhere…such an amazing tool! As a fan of Family Feud (shhhhh) I am so pumped by the idea of being able to poll students and use their responses instantly as part of a lesson plan. Survey says….WINNER!

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