Education technology and its use in the classroom has now become essential. Every school and every classroom has to find what works best for their needs.
With already enough things to juggle at the same time, teachers don't have it easy when it comes to finding the right edtech and implementing it successfully in their classrooms. There are just so many aspects to consider, sometimes very limited resources to fall on, and not that many guarantees that all efforts will be worth it.
Let's face it: not all edtech is created equal, so they can't all have a great impact on student learning and school outcomes. But most of all, let's not forget that edtech is just a cog in the system, not the entire system. It has to be intertwined with pedagogy and human relationships if it is to yield positive results.
4 Tips for teachers to make the most of edtech
Zooming in on the edtech part of a great classroom, here are some tips for teachers who want to make the most of it:
Don’t adopt the latest fad when it comes to edtech
First of all, edtech itself is not a fad. The pandemic made that loud and clear. Plus, students need to learn how to use technology to reach their goals in the classroom and beyond. They are already doing this outside the classroom and they’ll definitely need to master such skills in their adult lives later on.
But adopting edtech just because other people do it or just because it's there, is not the best way to go. As a teacher you need to find answers to a few questions before anything:
- Has anyone used this before?
- Did they get outstanding results?
- How will students behave while using it?
- How easy it is to learn how to use it?
- Will it make my life easier in any aspect?
Adopting technology in the classroom for technology's sake is never a good idea. But finding some that answer the above questions in the best way possible is well worth the try.
Read more: Don’t forget about pedagogy when chasing technology!
Align edtech with your students’ learning objectives
There are currently hundreds of thousands of apps for the education market. There are even more websites and other digital tools that compete for your attention. Some are truly amazing; others are just shiny (but not gold). To find the ones that are best for your classroom you need to put your students' needs first.
You know better than anyone just how different students are: some catch new things on the fly, others need more explaining sometimes, others do better when they can visualize new concepts, some learn better on their own, while others need their peers more. Differentiating and personalizing instruction is no easy feat. But edtech can help: digital collaboration tools, educational videos, a school learning management system with personalized learning paths, and adaptive learning features — these support students in their learning activities and help them on their journey.
Read more: Top edtech tools for digital differentiation
Don’t forget that edtech has two sides: software and hardware
It's fairly easy to get sucked in the software vortex, with so many things going on at once: how can this app enhance the learning experience of students, how can this program help you keep track of every learning activity and student progress, how can this audio or video software can be used to deliver targeted feedback to each student — and so on and so forth. But even the best of software can't do anything if the hardware doesn't work.
Almost everyone takes hardware for granted and only notice its importance when something goes wrong. From short battery life and not enough power outlets, to storage issues, to bad internet infrastructure, malware, or faulty computer parts, plenty of things about hardware can go wrong. That's why it's best to consider it at all steps of any edtech implementation program and fix any problem related to it before it escalates.
Read more: Cybersecurity measures educators can take for e-learning environments
Ask for help and support when you need it
Whenever you feel overwhelmed by the intensity of the work involved in adopting edtech in the classroom, remember this old saying: “It takes a village to raise a child”. Indeed, we're not talking about one child, but hundreds (if not more), but you are not alone. There is no need to compete with Atlas supporting the entire world on his shoulders.
Ask for help and support from your village of fellow teachers, headmasters, parents, and even your students. Other teachers can give you new ideas of how to use edtech, the school management must create and adapt the infrastructure, parents can help in numerous ways, and students can teach you a thing or two as well. No edtech implementation program is a one-man job. Your village should have your back.
Read more: Learning and growing as educators
Teachers play a crucial role in the successful use of edtech in the classroom, especially now, when every classroom is either hybrid or virtual. Those who manage to achieve great results have a few things in common: they understand the importance of finding the right edtech for their classroom needs, always align it with students’ learning objectives, don't overlook the hardware side of edtech, and are active in their edtech communities.