By Rae Keinan
It’s amazing to see how different education is today compared to just a few years ago. So long to the days of memorizing material from the chalkboard. Today, teachers can use advanced technology in the classroom to create different fun and engaging lesson plans that stick in their students’ memories. Some of us might have been lucky enough to experience it ourselves as students — maybe a history teacher using a polling system to simulate the process of passing a bill in Congress, or a French teacher projecting a story on the board for students to come up and fill-in-the-blanks using the new vocabulary they just learned. You’re not just learning a lesson, you’re enjoying it too. But why else should educators (like Ivey Homer, who got her M.Ed. in Educational Technology from American College of Education) incorporate technology in their classes?
It increases engagement
74% of surveyed teachers say technology motivates students to learn. Instead of having the students listen to a lecture passively, teachers can use technology to create fun activities that students would want to participate in. An anonymous quiz, for example, can get responses from shy students who wouldn’t usually speak up in class.
It improves knowledge retention
When students use technology to learn actively, they usually become more interested in what they’re learning and, as a result, remember more material. One meta-analysis of 225 studies comparing active learning approaches with traditional lecturing showed improved exam scores and decreased failure rates for active learning.
It personalizes teaching
Technology allows teachers to enhance traditional ways of teaching thanks to the near-infinite educational resources they can access online. 92% of surveyed teachers say that internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching. This allows them to respond to a variety of learning styles and demonstrate material they cannot show in any other way.
It prepares students for the future
Using technology can help students adapt to the digital environment we now live in. One study shows nine out of ten students indicated that using technology in the classroom would help prepare them for the digital future. Familiarizing students with technology early on can help them develop the essential skills for their future jobs, such as creating presentations or using a computer.
The best part is that teachers don’t necessarily need to install fancy software or pay for an expensive application to take their classes a step forward. Here are 12 simple examples of digital resources teachers can use:
- Add multimedia elements to lectures, such as images, videos, podcasts, and more.
- Use Google Calendar to share an online calendar, so students can keep up with the material and come prepared for each class.
- Use polling/quizzing applications, such as Top Hat or Crowd Signal, to get direct feedback from students.
- Ask students to create videos on Powtoon or Youtube about the subject they’re learning and present it to the class.
- Use a recording app to record students reading out loud and evaluate their pronunciation, intonation, speed, etc.
- Create a unique hashtag on Twitter or Instagram that students can follow and participate in.
- Create an online scavenger hunt where students need to visit various sites to gather clues that will lead them to the prize.
- Let students create mind maps of the material they’re learning, using apps like MindMeister.
- Connect with a teacher from a foreign country and have the students from both countries practice the language that they are learning with each other via Skype.
- Use Google Street View to take students on virtual tours in places that are hard to access, like The White House or The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- Set up a class blog on WordPress for students to share their creations, such as diary entries or poems, with each other.
- Use the Too Noisy app to control the noise level of students in class and keep them focused.