A Definition of Teaching Aids

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A Definition of Teaching Aids
(learning basics image by Sergey Mostovoy from Fotolia.com)

Teaching aids are tools that classroom teachers use to help their students learn quickly and thoroughly. A teaching aid can be as simple as a chalkboard or as complex as a computer program. Because every individual learns in a different way, teachers rely on these tools to explain concepts to students with a wide variety of learning needs. Teaching aids are crucial for educators as they are key in differentiating instruction for all types of learners.

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Teaching Aids Vs. Teaching Strategies

Teaching aids are the physical tools used to convey information in the classroom. Teaching strategies, however, are the methods the teacher uses to instruct. For example, a graph, a globe, and a ruler are all teaching aids. Lecture, discussion, and cooperative learning are all examples of teaching strategies. Utilising both facets of teaching present is paramount to a successful classroom, as even the best teaching aid cannot make up for poor teaching strategies.

Types

Most teaching aids are visual in nature. Blackboards and whiteboards, posters, calendars, charts, drawings, and overhead projectors are all examples of visual teaching aids. This type of aid is important because many people learn best through use of visual/special thinking. Some teaching aids are aurally-based. These aural aids include recordings of spoken broadcasts and songs. Audio-visual teaching aids include film projectors, videocassettes, DVDs, and movies on the Web. Though audio-visual aids were once seen as a method for students to teach themselves, they are now considered to be educational tools rather than a replacement for teachers.

History

The globe is the earliest-known teaching aid. Originating in ancient Greece, the globe has been used as an educational tool since as early as 150 B.C. The hornbook was another early teaching aid. Used in classrooms starting in the mid-1400s, the hornbook is a piece of paper containing the alphabet that was mounted on wood, bone, or in some cases leather. The chalkboard was patented in 1923 by Samuel Read Hall, and replaced the hornbook in classrooms around the world.

A Definition of Teaching Aids
The globe is the earliest-known teaching aid. (globe image by Christopher Meder from Fotolia.com)

Technology-Based Aids

Since the dawn of the technology age, computers have proved to be the most multifaceted teaching aid available. With technology like digital video presenters, power point presentations, and educational software, teachers are now able to quickly and accurately enlarge any physical visual aid, create and edit informational slides, and can ultimately provide their students with information in a faster, more comprehensive way. Computers provide an interactive educational experience that engages learners and makes the task of preparing lesson materials less time-consuming for teachers.

Considerations

Though aids are crucial to successful teaching, they are not a replacement for quality teaching strategies. Instead of relying upon teaching aids to do the instruction, these tools are used as supplemental resources for educators. Many students cannot perform to their fullest potential without the use of teaching aids, but no student can produce their best work without a skilled teacher behind them. With a plethora of multimedia resources available, it is important to remember that teaching aids are meant to enrich student learning, not provide it.

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