Technology is changing the way teachers and students interact in the classroom.
For instance, with more than 58% of U.S. children between the ages of 13 and 17 using smartphones, this tool—along with other digital devices, apps, and LCD projectors, etc.— is beginning to find a place in the educational classroom. In fact, Ken Halla, a 22-year veteran of teaching, suggests that smartphones can act as replacements for laptops or other technology devices that schools may not have access to (or budgets to provide).
From education wikis to crowdsourcing lesson plans, K-12 educators must stay on top of trends in education technology and platforms that not only allow for student success, but for teacher productivity and streamlined processes as well.
Three EdTech Tools for Educators in 2015
Since its inception in 1998, Google has been changing the way people learn and search for information. Google Classroom is a timesaving and paper-saving system that helps teachers organize student assignments and resources. When used with additional apps in Google’s arsenal (Drive, Docs, Calendar, etc.), Classroom allows teachers to create, distribute, and collect assignments, increase and simplify teacher-to-student communication, and create discussion rooms.
Top Feature: Classroom collaboration on documents is one of the touted features within Google Classroom. Teachers can make shared documents editable by all students, creating the opportunity for everyone to contribute to a class project virtually.
Teacher Application: Google offers an entire page of case studies for their education products, including Classroom. One case study focuses on the Clarkstown Central School District in southern New York. Teachers and students were overwhelmed with the number of cumbersome (and expensive) programs they had to use on a daily basis; after using Google Classroom for only a few months, educators reported that Google Classroom kept their students’ assignments organized, providing much-needed collaboration tools and applications that were easy to use and to distribute.
Edmodo is an educational social media site (think Facebook for the classroom). The main focus of Edmodo is virtual class discussion and collaboration, but it is not just another forum students (and teachers!) will ignore, as evidenced by Edmodo’s nearly 50 million users. The creators of the tool firmly believe that society’s 24/7, instant gratification mode applies to education, too. Students and teachers work at all hours of the day and night, and thus, have questions or opinions they want to share at all hours of the day and night. Edmodo allows this kind of discussion to happen in a familiar and accessible format.
Top Feature: Edmodo provides parents the ability to observe discussions and follow along with what their students are learning in the classroom. Research shows that students learn better with engaged parents, and this observation feature provides such support.
Teacher Application: In 2012, Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) identified the need for a teaching and learning platform that could meet a variety of communication and instructional needs, integrate with existing district systems like Google Docs, and roll out to the entire district in less than a year. The district chose to adopt the Edmodo platform because teachers liked:
- The familiar and intuitive user interface.
- Seamless communication between teachers and students.
- Easy-to-build formative assessments.
- Engaging educational apps.
- Accessibility from any device.
- Informal professional development opportunities.
- Teacher-contributed open educational resources.
In the end, the CCPS saw increased student engagement and near district-wide adoption.
TED-Ed is a tool for educators provided by the TED Talks creators and named one of Time’s Best 50 Websites of 2013. It allows educators to take any useful educational video—from YouTube or TED—and create a customized lesson from it. Teachers can add content to the video via text boxes, create multiple choice/short answer/essay questions to accompany the video, and add extra resources. Teachers can then distribute the lesson to their class and track views and check quiz scores.
Top Feature: TED-Ed has a library of pre-created lessons for educators to use. These lessons represent collaborations between expert educators, screenwriters, and animators and cover dozens of topics.
Teacher Application: The power of video in education is a well-studied topic. Research has shown that 65% of the population are visual learners who retain only 10-20% of written or spoken information. TED-Ed is a helpful tool for K-12 educators interested in finding new ways to support various learning styles.
Capella’s new Master of Science in Education Innovation and Technology, Instruction in the 1:1 Environment specialization provides teachers with tools and theories behind EdTech and how these changes can be implemented into successful teaching strategies inside and outside the classroom.
Contact Capella for more information or to be featured in an upcoming post on how you are implementing technology in the classroom.