The structure of education has remained largely the same for generations: Students begin class around 8 in the morning and continue from class to class until approximately 3 in the afternoon. Afterward, they may attend clubs or sports activities, and then complete hours of homework before going to bed. The pandemic has been forcing change across most industries, with education seeing some of the most drastic changes. At first glance, it may seem like these changes are simply inconveniences, and the presuppositions might be that students will suffer from these changes. However, in today’s technological society, there are more tools than ever to accommodate remote learning. Below, we cover the various technologies for teachers and the benefits of using them to improve education today.
Positive Impact of New Technology for Teachers
There are several reasons that teachers seek out educational technology, even beyond the pandemic. Perhaps the largest reason is that students actually benefit from technology in incredible ways.
In the years before the pandemic, a 2016 study proved that the use of technology for education improved test scores and made it easier to test students’ proficiency. Since the pandemic, technology has proven its value in unique and unexpected ways. The first being that students who are normally distractions in the classroom or misbehaved faired much better with online education. This is because these students are not distracted by the social aspect of the classroom and those around them. In their homes, they don’t have the social pressures and distractions, and therefore are able to focus along with other students now separated from the misbehavior.
Also, students are no longer subjected to the rigidity of classroom learning. They can get their classwork done within their own timeline and pace. This may mean that they finish social studies in 20 minutes, but spend two hours on math because they’re searching for more in-depth explanations than what’s provided in the lesson plans. Plus, this type of learning allows students to study and learn on a schedule that suits them best. As adults, we know that we are more productive at certain times. This may mean sleeping in and starting work early in the afternoon or completing work late in the evening, right before bed. Having the flexibility to choose makes learning easier because students have the freedom to learn their way.
We know that students face tremendous pressures, especially in the face of standardized tests. Teachers face these pressures as well. They must cram specific knowledge into a short amount of time, but there is often too much for a student to fully grasp. The classes are short, the lessons are difficult, and there is very little time between each lesson. The lack of breaks and the enormous pressure makes it difficult for students to retain the knowledge beyond what they need for their tests. This plays into the reality that a rigid schedule isn’t a great model for education.
The swift shift to remote learning has also proven beneficial for students that are frequently bullied in school. Studies show that students who face bullying suffer from lower academic scores. At home, students are protected from this negative behavior. Though there is still cyberbullying to contend with, there are protections such as web content filtering and monitoring to help keep students safe and focused while online.
The SAMR Model: Technology for Teaching
One of the greatest benefits of technology in the classroom and at-home education is flexibility and options. This is what the SAMR model represents. In the SAMR model, which stands for substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition, there are four tiers of remote or online learning. Substitution and augmentation are typically the most commonly instituted.
The remaining tiers are considered advanced, for those teachers and students that are already adjusted to technology as a way of learning. This means that students and teachers are already posting their work across digital platforms and receiving feedback on that work. Though advanced students can focus on the higher tiers, there should be an integration of all tiers by all students and teachers. They represent the range of options that students have available now, which makes it possible for successful remote learning.
Finding the Right Technology for Teachers & Students
Finding the right technology to use for a classroom is one thing, but finding technology that can supplement an entire school is quite a task. Luckily, in our modern age, we have many options for schools to choose from to suit their teachers and students best. By choosing a mix of tools to serve specific functions rather than simple supplementation, schools will have a better chance of satisfying all needs. We’ve listed some of the best technologies for educators below.
Evo Classroom Kit
Evo Classroom Kit is for students in grades 4-8. The Kit includes 100 STEAM lessons, with coding as their main focus. They have a screen-free mode that allows you to use Color Codes for the lesson. Students can even learn to program proximity sensors.
Another piece of technology that’s designed to prepare students for the technological world is Nearpod. It’s a virtual reality headset with tutorials for different subjects and concepts. You can take students on an exploration of volcanoes or the Taj Mahal. If you teach a language class, you can virtually take students through a market in that country.
Learn Around the World
One of the best things about the technological world is that students are more easily exposed to cultures, languages, and all types of people. Learn Around the World provides a means of connecting students to classrooms around the world. Not only do they set up events, but they also create projects that students can work on together.
TinyTap has over 100,000 activities to aid students in learning a concept. Students can also learn by developing games and teaching through the app.
As students spend more time online and with the increasing need for remote learning, teachers and parents worry that students are not gaining enough social skills. SiLAS allows students to create characters and record their voices and videos to talk through problems, express their feelings, and receive assessments.
There’s been a push in education towards social-emotional learning, and part of that includes writing down your feelings. This helps students better understand their emotions to cope with the world around them. KidBlog helps students learn how to do this digitally, and provides them a safe place to publish without outside criticism.
Science360 Video Library
Science is a difficult subject for online learning because there are so many concepts that require hands-on activities, especially for subjects like chemistry. Science360 Video Library is a part of the National Science Foundation and helps students learn about science, technology, and engineering.
InsertLearning allows you to turn anything on the Internet into a lesson. If you find an article relating to the curriculum you can use it as a lesson, add commentary, insert videos, and allow students to discuss as well.
Book Creator allows both students and teachers to create workbooks, comic books, magazines, and more. This allows students to get creative and may even spark ideas for projects.
Classcraft is for the younger students, helping them learn complex topics through gamification. It allows them to work together on projects, play games to learn subjects, and develop a love of learning.