Educational technology tools can improve the teacher-student dynamic in and outside of the classroom, and facilitate the learning process. This benefits not only the teacher and the student, but also the school and the parents. The school benefits as technology can help in education by assisting the students with their academic goals set by the institution. Edtech technology can also help persuade prospective teachers and students to attend the establishment. The parents benefit by knowing that their child is able to familiarise with technology in a way which can boost their future career prospects and increase engagement with their learning. But not all educational technology tools are effective, and some will require a specific teaching methodology or school facilities to be properly implemented. How you integrate technology into your classroom is just as important as what tools you use. We’ve compiled a list of the best tools so you can see if they will be a great fit for your classroom.
At this point, the interactive whiteboard should be a staple in every classroom. If you aren’t familiar with what exactly it is, the best way I can describe it is as a whiteboard that’s been designed for the 21st century. By that I mean it’s integrated with technology like touch screen functionality, since these days just about everything has some form of technology associated with it. Why is it an essential educational technology tool? Well, it provides teachers with a great way to capture the student’s attention, show them information and videos found online, and quiz them with interactive exercises to encourage student participation. Keep the Student’s Attention Say you’re teaching geography and the location of the key rivers in the United Kingdom. At some point in the class you might start to lose the student’s attention unless you put their knowledge to the test in some way. While asking them to raise their hands and answer questions is one way to keep them engaged and on their toes, another way is to use the interactive whiteboard. Websites like Seterra allow you to place geographical features on a map of a country, making for a highly entertaining and informative way to reinforce the student’s knowledge. The fun that they have doing exercises like this on the interactive whiteboard will also help strengthen the connection to the subject material, and build a better memory of it. Show Online Resources If you find a fascinating video online or an informative graphic or news article, you need a way to be able to show it to the whole class. Turning your computer screen to face the students might work every now and again, but it isn’t a long term solution. With the interactive whiteboard you can show your computer screen on a bigger surface, so the students can see what you want them to. This is perfect for having them do an assignment in class based on information from an article you found, or for showing them a video which breaks down the content they are currently studying. Quiz the Class Another way to use the interactive whiteboard to enhance the learning experience in the classroom is by quizzing the class. There’s nothing better than a fun quiz to test the student’s knowledge and make sure they are taking in what you are trying to teach them. You can either create your own quiz in a document and show it on the whiteboard, or you can find an online quiz and have the students come up to the front of the glass to answer questions. This is a great way to mix things up in the classroom and promote more student participation. There are even websites which will play a video that stops at intervals and asks questions about what the student has just seen. This is especially useful for language-learning, as it requires attentive listening.
In my 4 years working as a teaching assistant, the best educational technology tool I’ve come across has undoubtedly been ClassDojo. If you’re unfamiliar with it, ClassDojo is one of the best disciplinary systems out there, and can help you control the class with ease. If you work in a primary school and you don’t yet have this software/app, then it’s definitely worth looking into. There is both an online component and an app for ClassDojo. The web page is for the students to see, and the app is for you to manage the system during class. The first step is to input the information of your students into the website, and then allowing each student to choose their own colourful monster. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to do a variety of things. You can both assign points for good behaviour and performance or remove them for poor behaviour. What this does is give the students an opportunity to see the progress they are making in class. Either they are dropping points and need to get their act together before a note is made to their parents, or they can be encouraged by their positive performance and may be close to receiving a prize. The best part about ClassDojo is how assigning or removing a point can instantly affect the dynamic of the classroom. Give the whole class a point and they will be motivated to work harder and work towards a common goal. Remove a point and chances are the room will go silent as the students try not to lose any more points. You can make this system work for you too, by adding rewards or punishments to a certain number of points. You can even get the students involved when deciding what these will be, so they are even more invested. A reward can be as simple as showing them a video in class or letting a student pick their seat for the next lesson. A punishment can be anything from a trip to the headmaster’s office or a letter home to the parents.
Turnitin is one of those educational tools that is becoming essential, since it encourages and ensures academic integrity in the students. What this service does is check for plagiarism in student assignment submissions, so that you know that what they’ve written has come from their mind and not from Wikipedia. With an enormous database of student work, websites, books etc. Turnitin will catch any attempts at plagiarism and snuff them out completely As a teacher, you won’t have to do anything as the program will sift through the assignments as soon as they are uploaded by the student. You will be presented then with a Similarity Report that will give you a breakdown of potential instances of plagiarism, so you can decide how best to proceed.
Edmodo is an online educational tool which can help you manage the classroom in many ways. Any tool you could ever possibly need is available with Edmodo. You can set assignments, share class materials, and even create your own quizzes for the students to do in their own time. This helps to create a connection between the teacher and student beyond the classroom, and it enables parents to have a clear idea of what their child is currently working on every time they want to check in on their progress. There’s a whole section of the software dedication to parents, so they don’t have to feel like they’re snooping or intruding on their child’s personal space. It’s also an excellent resource for distance learning, which is especially important these days. Even if the student isn’t able to attend school in person for whatever reason, they can still carry out all the tasks expected of them from home. This sets up the student well for higher education too since it encourages independent learning.
Labster is an interesting concept that brings virtual science labs to the classroom and home so your students can experiment wherever they are and without the risks. If you head over to their website, you can see a video demonstration of the software, which is incredibly realistic and will surely convert those students who don’t think science is for them. It plays out like a video game too which should definitely serve as extra motivation for some students to use it, given the rising popularity of esports and gaming in general. One of the biggest issues a lot of students have with the subject of science is that it can seem dull or too challenging to bother with. By putting the student into the virtual reality environment created by Labster, you can watch their enthusiasm grow for the subject as they handle different chemicals and life forms, conducting their own exciting experiments. It’s one of those educational tools that you can expect students wanting to use even when they aren’t being asked to, since there are endless possibilities with what you can do in the lab. Encouraging curiosity and independent work, Labster is an incredible resource to get students interested in science.
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