Some people seem to think that teaching traditional school subjects such as English, Social Studies, History and Math can only be done in a traditional manner of frontal education. That is, the teacher stands in front of the class and lectures and the students listen, write notes and take tests afterward to test their comprehension of the material. They regard the new Educational Technology methods of education as akin to playing online poker – it exposes the students to unneeded information that is only made more engaging because the student can click to access data.
However, study after study indicates that using EdTech is highly beneficial in all areas of education, for all grades.
- Students have become used to using technology in their daily lives and benefit from the extension of these techniques in their learning.
- Students can learn independently, each at his or her own pace
- Learning becomes a process, not just the outcome
- Collaborative learning is facilitated to expand the students’ opportunities to acquire new information from their peers and to teach their peers
How can EdTech be expanded in the school system of today?
What is EdTech?
EdTech refers to “educational technology.” EdTech doesn’t just refer to college courses and home computers. Today, computers including desktops, tablets, and other devices are being incorporated into classrooms of every grade level. Recent statistics indicate that 75 percent of US educators incorporate technology into their daily curriculum.
EdTech is changing the lives of everyone involved in the school system, teachers, parents, administrators and, most of all, students. Almost all classrooms use SMART Boards, interactive whiteboards that make it easy to erase material and organize information but what other tools are teachers using that allow them to enhance learning through EdTech tools and techniques?
Best EdTech tools for classroom use today include
Classes in history, social studies, geography, geology, earth science, oceanography, astronomy, and many more disciplines benefit from Google Earth. Google Earth renders a 3D representation of the Earth by mapping the Earth, using satellite imagery, with superimposed satellite images and aerial photography.
Students can see cities and landscapes from various angles and explore the world by entering coordinates or addresses. The program runs on PC or mobile with a quick download from the app store. Users can add their own data to assist future users.
In addition to the 3D imagery, there is also a street view, where users can see streets and neighborhoods, water and ocean images and images from outer space including Mars and the moon.
“Thanks for that worksheet,” said no student ever. Teachers have been using worksheets to have their student’s review information for decades – if not centuries. Students are expected to answer questions on the worksheet based on material that they have, supposedly, learned. The only problem with the worksheets is that they are static, uninspired and boring. In addition, quicker workers finish their worksheets quickly while slower students need more time to complete their sheet.
What if you could give your students a worksheet that allows them to express themselves in a variety of ways, learn as they work, work at their own pace and have fun?
That’s the concept behind Wizer, Wizer allows teachers to set up a worksheet with embedded videos, images and other interactive media so even as the students work through the sheet online, they continue to acquire new information.
When students hand in their work the teacher can view and assess the worksheets, review answers and add written or recorded feedback. All activities have auto-check option built-in (other than open-ended questions).
Task options include open-ended questions, multiple choice questions, drawing activities, fill in the blanks, matching activities, fill in an image, complete a table, watch a video, sorting tasks, read a text and follow a link.
Quizlet is another tool that allows the teacher to facilitate a review of material learned in a fun and interactive manner. Quizlet can be used for any type of material, from simple spelling reviews to algebra, trigonometry, biology, calculus, geography and more. Teachers can make their own classroom set or use a set that another teacher has created……sometimes in a location clear across the country.
The idea is that studying via games makes it easier to learn and retain information and creates an engaging learning atmosphere for everyone.
ScreenCastify is a Google Chrome extension which captures and records content from any webcam or computer screen. The recorded content can later be edited and shared to facilitate information sharing with voice, a slide show, a video or a google doc. The instructor can record a visual explanation or message to be used for teacher-student, teacher-admin or even teacher-parent communication.
Students can also record a slideshow or a presentation, sing a song or read a piece or poetry or passage and then share it with the teacher or with other students. The recording can be saved as a youtube.
Teachers who are looking for a new and dynamic way to present material to their students or to allow the students to present material that they’ve learned should check out Pixton, a comics-creating tool.
With Pixton, the user doesn’t have to be “artistically inclined” or talented. The user simply drags and drops the pictures and text into the panels to create a comic that represents what they want to say. Every aspect of the comic is controlled via an intuitive click-n-drag motion.
By creating a comic, the user can convey information or concepts without relying only on words and text. Plus, it’s fun and brings creativity into the learning process.
Lino boards bring bulletin boards online to allow an interactive platform where teachers can present information, students can respond and everyone can give feedback to each others’ posts.
Each post involves dragging and dropping a note into a board where the poster can write text, add images, include videos and share links. Other users can then drag their own posts to the original poster’s post to respond, ask questions or provide answers to a question that was posted.
Once the teacher shares the link to the Lino, everyone who receives that link will have access to the board to respond and contribute their own posts.