The options for teachers looking to incorporate technology into the classroom are endless. Every new program and gadget has the potential to be a great tool, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So how do you know what’s really worth it? This article is here to help. We’ll cover the benefits of incorporating tech tools in the classroom, where to start, and some of the best resources.
What are the benefits of incorporating tech tools into the classroom?
School in the 21st century is far different than the school of yesterday. Students are more tech-savvy, but in order to keep up, teachers have to be as well. Technology can bring many benefits for both students and educators alike.
1. It gives them opportunities they may not have had access to otherwise. For example, rural students who have had many opportunities to travel can take virtual field trips that will enhance and even deepen their learning.
2. It encourages students to be more creative by allowing them to express their ideas and opinions through different formats, including blogs, digital photography, and videos.
1. It gives teachers a chance to be creative and fun in the classroom by using technology tools in new ways.
2. It allows teachers to differentiate their instruction for students who learn differently or are at different levels of learning.
Where should teachers start with technology?
Now that you have a better idea of what technology can do for the classroom, but where should you start?
1. Make sure you are using the appropriate classroom management strategies. If you have a classroom with poor management, the best tech tools won’t help because students will be too distracted.
2. What are the learning styles of your students? If they are visual learners who learn best by watching videos or seeing graphics and images, then YouTube clips that show how to solve complex math problems may make more sense than textbooks.
3. How much time can you spend on learning to use new technology? There are a lot of programs and websites out there, but some take much more time to learn than others. If you have endless patience and a lot of time to explore possibilities, then go ahead and try everything out.
4. How much money do you have to invest in tech tools? A lack of money isn’t necessarily a big barrier. There are plenty of free programs available as well as low-cost software that you can still use to create interactive learning experiences for your students. However, if you have money to invest in tech tools, this might help you purchase higher-quality products and find specific programs that are matched to your needs.
5. Make sure to balance your use of technology. Constant use of technology to solve problems can stifle the natural process of learning.
Technology resources for teachers
Here is a list of educator-approved resources to up-level the tech in your classroom.
Pinterest: Pinterest is a free visual discovery engine that contains a vast library of user-uploaded images, recipes, videos, tutorials, lesson plans, and more.
Students of all ages and classroom teachers can search for ideas about a specific topic and group their research by using Pinterest boards. In this way, they can easily store information for research projects, carry out brainstorming exercises, and even upload and store their own portfolios. Group boards allow teachers and students to collaborate and see each other’s work.
As Pinterest is highly visual, it can even be used by students who are still learning to read and write.
The Khan Academy: The Khan Academy’s mission is to provide free education for anyone, anywhere. Their resources are being translated into more than 36 languages, and their website is available in English, Spanish, French and Brazilian Portuguese.
They offer courses at all levels in the following subject areas:
- Arts & humanities
- Test prep
- Reading & language arts
- Life skills
Their teacher dashboard summarizes class performance as a whole and provides detailed information about each student.
Google Apps for Education: This is a free suite of 9 tools that allows students and teachers to:
- Store files
- Collaborate on documents
- Create slideshows
- Collect data and monitor student progress
- Create great visuals
- Connect with teachers and students around the world
National Geographic Kids: This is a great website for young children to learn more about science and the environment in an interactive way. The interface is simple enough for them to navigate on their own and gives them access to:
- Information about animals
Socratic by Google: Socratic is a Google app that acts as a digital tutor for high school and university students. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and search technologies to find helpful educational resources from the internet.
The benefit of Socratic is that it allows students to get help in real-time. Students can still make progress even when teachers, tutors, and parents are not available.
Natural language processing (NLP) allows students to ask for help conversationally. Alternatively, they can take screenshots or photos of the problem they’re trying to solve or the question they’re trying to answer.
Duolingo: This free foreign language learning app motivates students to learn by letting them earn points as they progress through levels. English speakers can choose to learn 30-plus languages, including endangered languages like Navajo and Gaelic and fictional languages like Klingon (from Star Trek) and High Valyrian (from Game of Thrones).
Kahoot!: Kahoot! is a free game-based assessment tool that allows players to participate in quizzes with other members of the class. Students can even create their own quizzes to solidify their knowledge of a topic.