There’s no doubt about it, technology is instrumental in many aspects of life. It has revolutionised how we communicate with each other, made learning from home straightforward, and has many useful applications in education too. The ways in which edtech technology can help teachers are numerous, and they range from student discipline, grading, and parent communication. To keep things simple to follow, we’re going to break it down into the four parties which stand to benefit the most from the use of technology in education: teachers, students, schools, and parents. Each one of these groups can benefit greatly from the use of technology in education, whether directly in the case of students or teachers, or indirectly in the case of schools and parents. There’s boosted engagement on the level of the student and teacher, and effortless communication between educational institutions and parents.
One of the main players in the education system to benefit directly from technology is the educator, who can make the most of the best educational technology tools to level up their lessons. The role of the teacher is to ensure the student has everything they need to learn the curriculum set by the school. That means setting learning goals and objectives, keeping discipline in the classroom, and teaching the material in a way that maintains the student’s interest. Technology can help with all three of these responsibilities, should it be integrated correctly into the classroom.
Learning goals are crucial in the education system, since there is often a curriculum to follow and an exam to work towards. These objectives can provide direction for the lessons and keep the students focused on what they need to learn and study at home. One of the most obvious ways technology can help with individual class learning goals is by helping the teacher create assignments for the student. Digital educational platforms such as Edmodo and Turnitin are great ways for a teacher to set tasks and homework for their class. This way, it becomes easy for the student to take what they learnt at school home with them, and strengthen the connection with the material by completing a related assignment independently.
Classroom discipline is a huge issue for teachers, and fortunately is one which can be a lot easier to uphold with the use of technology. When thinking about classroom discipline, one piece of software always springs to mind for me as a previous teaching assistant, and that is Classdojo. Classdojo is a piece of software that has the potential to transform the dynamic of any primary school classroom. While it may be more geared towards younger children, it is very effective for incentivising good behaviour and performance in the classroom. To use this software in the classroom, each student gets to choose their own monster avatar, which they’ll see on screen each time you open the website. Each time the student misbehaves or slacks on a task, you remove a point. This triggers a sound which in my experience often silences the classroom. It also works the other way too, as you can use positive reinforcement by giving points to those students who are working diligently or behaving well. The genius of this software is that you can operate it from an app on your phone, and you can also set up your own reward system. You can get the students to invest more in Classdojo by asking them what prize they would enjoy if they reach 25 points as a class, or 50. This encourages collaboration too, as nobody will want to be the reason the whole class falls short or misses out on a reward.
Teaching the Material
One of the more obvious applications of technology in education is facilitating student learning. What better way to engage with material than by throwing in an interactive quiz or asking the student to conduct individual research at home? The sky's the limit when it comes to using technology to teach. An interactive whiteboard provides an engaging way for students to fill in sentences, put countries on a map, or drag and drop the correct answers. Software like Prezi gives students the opportunity to create a fun and compelling presentation on a topic they have researched themselves. Websites like Lyrics Training allow you to gamify language-learning, and quiz websites like Sporcle gives you access to an endless number of quizzes to test the student’s knowledge on a wealth of topics.
The role of the student is to participate in class and stay curious. Technology makes the roles and responsibilities of a student easier to uphold. One way is through the use of engaging resources and software which makes in-person classes enjoyable. Another way is digital learning platforms which make it more straightforward to complete independent assignments at home and generate more curiosity for a subject. The biggest way that technology can help the student is by keeping them connected to their education. Whereas before technology the onus was completely on the learner to go home and get their books out to study, now it’s possible to login to an online learning platform and have everything available at once. Online platforms like Edmodo allow the student to have their own access point to the classroom while they are at home. Missed a class? The material will be available to you online. Misheard the instructions for an assignment? The instructions will be listed where you need to submit it. Have doubts about how best to prepare for an exam? Contact the teacher from home without having to phone the school.
From the schools’ perspective, the top priority is academic performance and excellent exam results. By implementing technology into the classrooms, a school can help streamline the process of teaching for the educators, as well as give students the incentive to stay focused and on task while in class. There’s also the benefits of having a digital learning system which can extend communication from within the walls of the school to the homes of the students. The school can essentially have a direct line of contact with students through technology, and this is useful for keeping on top of assignments they need to complete, as well as keeping them informed about upcoming events, exam information, and timetables. It’s also a big plus for any school to implement technology from a marketing standpoint. When it comes to drawing in prospective students and teachers, technology can be a huge deciding factor. The school will have a much easier job selling the position of educator if there are a wealth of modern technologies available to assist the teacher both inside and outside of the classroom. Likewise, one of the best ways to entice future students is to let them (and their parents) know that the school is equipped with modern technology, which can replicate the experience they have at home on the computer and with a mobile phone.
Parents may feel like they don’t have a hugely important role in the education process, but technology can change that. Whereas once upon a time parents would rely upon their child to relay any important information from school and fill them in on homework assignments, all of this should be available online with technology now. That means the parent can track the progress of their offspring, without having to interrogate them every time they come home from school claiming to have no homework to do. This increased accountability for the student’s learning should satisfy a lot of parents who want to assist their kids as much as possible and keep them engaged with their education. It will also put a lot of parent’s minds at ease to know that a lot of the methods involving technology at school can be turned into valuable skills in the workforce one day. The job market is becoming increasingly reliant on one being technologically literate in some way, so it’s important that kids learn them as young as possible. This can be anything from conducting independent research for an assignment, to getting to grips with online software, assignment submission, and correctly referencing essays. As a parent, it’s disheartening to see your child come home from school claiming they learnt nothing and that class was boring. While not many kids will actively tell their parents they love school every day, there is certainly something to be said for technology’s role in making for memorable classes. That one time the kids got to place all the rivers on a map of Spain on the interactive whiteboard, or the other time when your kid’s group narrowly won the digital quiz can be defining moments in a student’s education and further their curiosity to learn. This heightened engagement can help the parents to identify what their biggest interests are academically, which can help with the process of selecting a higher education institution in the future and/or what career path makes most sense for them.
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