From the smartphones in our pockets to the more advanced electrical vehicles on our roads, the world is now full of technology. While we can all agree that having a world filled with tech can have its downsides, technology can also significantly improve the lives and productivity of people from all walks of life. From amputees getting new tech limbs to teachers getting a much-needed helping hand on lesson planning, engagement and assessment tools. So, what about teachers and technology? Do the two really go hand in hand and if so, how? 

Read on to find out how you can enhance learning by incorporating technology into your classroom. 

Teachers and technology – What is EdTech? 

EdTech, or Educational Technology, is technology used to enhance learning and support teachers in doing what they do best. The main goal of EdTech is to optimize engagement and learning outcomes – the ultimate aim of all teaching! 

Despite what you might think, EdTech has actually been around for a while. Who remembers their teacher wheeling in a TV on a cart on a Friday afternoon so you could watch an “educational film”? Overhead projectors, cassette tapes and even the radio can all be put into the early EdTech category, but thankfully there are far more options today than a TV on wheels! 

  1. EdTech improves collaboration

You might be a fan of the old Think, Pair, Share, but there are so many other ways you can enhance peers working together in your classroom with the use of technology. 

From the popular quizzing platform Kahoots where you can put your students into teams to compete against their peers and test their understanding of a topic; to using Google Classroom to encourage students to offer feedback to their peers on their Google Docs. 

Google Presentations and Google Docs are great collaborative tools, as it’s easy for teachers to view who in a group has contributed to the work, and to help facilitate team projects. These tools are also a great way to encourage home learning, as students can see their peers working live on a document or presentation while they are, giving them a sense of working togetherness that can be used as added motivation. 

Other useful EdTech collaboration tools include:

  • FlipGrid is a video tool designed to encourage discussion and engagement. These short video logs allow students to share ideas in an engaging and hands-on way, as video submissions are often more enticing to students than a written response
  • Padlet allows for creative collaboration using a range of different mixed-media sources
  • Scribblar, an online collaborative whiteboard

Full access to learning

One of my favourite aspects of cloud software such as Google Drive is the opportunity to extend learning beyond each lesson by providing all of the resources students need to progress in any unit or topic, whenever they need them. 

In many schools today, Google Classroom is now used as the “go-to” place for all of the resources students need in their subjects, from lesson slides and handouts to homework tasks and formative assessments. You can even have students complete their end-of-term summative assessments on Google Classroom (which will automatically grade it for you), along with the grading criteria. This way, students always know what goals they’re working toward and can keep track of their own progress along the way.

This type of tool puts students in the driver’s seat, shifting from the constant “Miss, what do I do?” or “Sir, I forgot what we did yesterday” to encouraging students to refer back to the resources made available to them. It’s also a great way for you to easily keep track of student work and progress and shift from the masses of paper and textbooks you used to carry around from classroom to classroom! 

Changing traditional teaching methods

The use of tech in the classroom has the power to alter traditional teaching methods. By incorporating technology into the classroom, students feel empowered to take charge of their own learning in a fun and engaging way. Learning can be gamified with tools such as Minecraft or Prodigy to enhance understanding of math concepts, where learning becomes simpler, more fun and feels like less of a chore. 

Albert Einstein once said that “Play is the highest form of research.”, and he wasn’t kidding! Play really is the best way for students (and adults) to learn. What’s more, when students are engrossed in what they are doing with a sense of pleasure, they are far more likely to remember what they have learnt than at any other time. 

Personalized learning

Despite what we know about how humans learn, most schools still adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach to learning, with standardized assessments and grade expectations all set within one particular time frame. Most teachers have a firm grasp of why this method is problematic, primarily because humans don’t all process information in the same way, and the standardized approach is bound to leave many students behind. The good news is, EdTech makes it possible to personalize learning much more than in paper-based classrooms, for example, providing information on a set topic in a variety of different ways such as videos, songs, PDFs, infographics, etc, as well as allowing students to apply their learning in a way they choose for example: giving the choice for students to submit a collaborative presentation vs an individual essay.

Personalised learning aims to help students achieve the same objective, but respects where students are at and how they learn in order to help them achieve success. 

Taking off a load for teachers

EdTech not only helps to make learning more engaging, but it really does have its advantages when it comes to helping teachers get a much-needed break. Here are some examples of how EdTech can help you save both time and energy:

  • Automated grading systems such as those incorporated in Google Classroom
  • Classroom management systems e.g. noise level monitors, timers for students to keep focused in the allotted time given, etc.
  • AI tools to track progress and look back on previous work
  • Paperless classrooms! (Less time standing at the copier, cutting and laminating!)
  • Save pennies on physical resources with the use of virtual ones

Conclusion

EdTech is an innovative tool that continues to help teachers and students around the world to get the most out of teaching and learning. The world of Edtech can be overwhelming at first, especially if you don’t see yourself as someone who is good with technology, but just like anything, it’s a skill that can be learned, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll see just how many incredible EdTech tools there are at your disposal. 

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