A version of this post was originally published on August 6, 2019 in Education HQ Australia.
The success of educators nowadays is based on the interrelation between mastering their subject matter, pedagogy and the technology that supports teaching. Knowing everything about Geography, for example, and making students understand geographical concepts is no longer enough. Teachers need to choose and use the right educational technology — or edtech — to elevate teaching as well.
Read more: Why educators can no longer ignore the TPACK framework
Technology already impacts most aspects of students’ lives and will only continue to do so in the future. Therefore, the use of edtech in one form or another in the classroom is a must. Incorporating edtech in the classroom may be challenging for many teachers, with the main barriers against a smooth adoption including costs, access, understanding its benefits or having the time to implement it.
How educators can make use of edtech into the classroom
However, including edtech in the teaching process is not impossible. More and more teachers across the globe are embracing it with various degrees of success, both in terms of lesson delivery and student learning outcomes.
Let’s take a look at five ways educators can incorporate edtech in the classroom, so that it isn’t just used for technologies sake, but as a way to really make an impact on teaching and learning:
Virtual field trips
There’s a lot of room and potential for the use of VR in the education space. Every student learns better when he or she is immersed in the subject; a pair of VR goggles blocks the outside world, immersing the student in the learning experience. The interactivity that usually follows is like an added bonus.
As a teacher you can literally take your students on a field trip, explore the oceans or space, or bend time and witness historic events, all without leaving the classroom. Google Expeditions, Discovery VR or NYTVR are just a few examples that allow that to happen. A myriad of other VR apps await to be used. And with a cost as low as 5 US dollars for a VR viewer, more students should be able to have a VR learning experience.
There are hundreds of thousands of apps specifically created for the education market. Teachers can use an app to enhance learning no matter what grade their students are, what subject they’re supposed to learn, nor how advanced their level of knowledge about that subject currently is. There’s an app for everything.
To give just a few examples, AR Flashcards helps kindergarten students learn the alphabet, Kahoot! offers social learning games on any subject, Scratch helps students learn about coding, while Bankaroo helps them understand financial concepts like budgets, savings or investing. The possibilities to use learning apps in the classroom really seem endless.
Smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon’s Echo Dot or Apple’s HomePod find their way into more and more households. So much so, that over a quarter of US adults now own a smart speaker.
If students are used to having a smart speaker at home, they can easily get used to having one at school. Teachers are finding creative ways to put these devices to good use in the classroom; they can assist with basic classroom management, be a research aid for students or assist them with their homework, and so much more. An extra benefit for younger students is that a smart speaker encourages them to practice their pronunciation skills.
Read more: Exploring the most popular smart speakers for the classroom
We all know the blackboard, as well as its more modern counterpart, the whiteboard. Since many of us have smartphones in our pockets, quite a lot have smart speakers or even a smart fridge at home, it was only a matter of time until the classroom got its smart board.
A smart board can be used to perform the classic activity of writing something so that all students can see, but it comes with other advantages on top of that. It can also substitute the class projector, offering whole-group access to personalised learning materials created by the teacher specifically for a lesson, other educational websites or even to the assessment software.
Read more: How teachers can use smart boards in the classroom
The school LMS
The Learning Management System (LMS) has come a long way since its first use in the education sector. It has become a complete solution for any educational activity, from managing enrollment, to assisting teachers in delivering better and more personalized instruction, to enhancing the learning experiences of students, and everything in between.
The use of an LMS in the classroom comes with many advantages, all stemming from the fact that every learning activity can be centralized and tracked, thus creating detailed reports and allowing educators to make the most informed decisions.
Learning how to use VR viewers and apps, various other learning apps, a smart speaker, a smart board, or a school LMS in the classroom doesn’t have to be challenging. Educators need to be aware of the fact that their subject matter knowledge and pedagogy skills are still important. As long as this strong foundation of teaching is established, teachers can incorporate any edtech tool in the classroom to help them to achieve their goals.