Technology plays a prominent role in the modern classroom. Students use laptops, tablets, and myriad software to complete in-class work and at-home assignments. Teachers take advantage of smartboards to offer multimedia lessons and expand on concepts.
In a survey of 1,000 long-time high school teachers, 73% say their classrooms use laptops and tablets daily. Additionally, their students do less than half of assignments with traditional pencil and paper. While some schools allow students to bring their own devices, the majority — 66% — provide them.
Education technology tools and solutions are becoming commonplace and widespread. As a result, educators must stay on top of trends and pursue ongoing learning in technology.
Read more: Professional development for teachers is key to ed-tech success
How to learn more about edtech options
When it comes to professional development for educators, it's vital to learn about the edtech options available. Although teachers have advanced resources, many are unsure how best to implement them in the classroom. Here are a few methods for staying current in education technology trends:
Read through industry magazines
To learn more about education technology, teachers should read magazines that provide background on the field and why it matters in learning. Top publications include Learning Solutions Magazine, Technological Horizons in Education (THE) Journal and Campus Technology, to name but a few. Peer-reviewed journals, such as Computers & Education and the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, also offer research on the benefits of technology for students.
Join a professional organization
Teachers should know about and become members of organizations dedicated to connecting like-minded individuals. As members, educators can take part in events, forums, seminars, training and more. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), for instance, hosts an annual conference and exposition to highlight technological enhancements in the classroom.
Read more: 8 Edtech organizations every teacher should know about [INFOGRAPHIC]
Enroll in an online program
Teachers lead busy lifestyles. As such, they might need to rely on technology to further their education. Online courses, including certificates and degree programs, make it easy to learn on any schedule. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are also excellent resources, offering free classes from world-renowned universities.
Take a degree course
Technology is becoming so prominent in education that it's now a study option for aspiring teachers. Educators who are serious about their commitment to an innovative classroom often elect to return to school. Those majoring in technology education will study technological systems and design their own. Hands-on experience gives teachers the tools necessary to enhance student curriculums.
Attend an annual event
Travel to an edtech meetup where you can network with other teachers, learn from the experts, discover best practices for technology use, and engage with a diverse array of pedagogy concepts. Uncover solutions for educators and students with a Google for Education event. You can also attend the Education Elements Summit, which brings together a diverse community of school leaders, researchers, designers, and more. In case traveling may not be possible, many such events turn to the virtual world and host sessions online.
Reach out to the experts
What better way to learn about education technology than to reach out to the disrupters themselves? If you’ve read an interesting article or research paper, reach out to the author with your questions. Look up the contact information for decision-makers at companies and startups and ask if they’d be willing to share insights. You can also discuss classroom use and benefits with the developers of new digital tools.
Sample popular edtech tools
You can try out many education technology tools and programs before you make a substantial investment. Research popular options and play around with them in your free time. Consider how you can add these tools to your lesson plans and if students will respond to them. GooseChase, for instance, is an app that allows you to create scavenger hunts. You can also try Explain Everything, a screencasting interactive whiteboard app that allows you to animate, record, annotate, collaborate, and more. Finally, many learning management systems offer free trials or even free plans, to let you have a taste of what it takes to create engaging online learning experiences for your students.
What areas of edtech learning should teachers focus on
Education technology spans numerous topics, making it challenging for teachers to stay on top of the latest advancements.
Instead, it's best to focus on key areas, such as:
- Equipment use: The type of edtech tools available and how they can be used, including smartboards, laptops, cameras, projectors, and more.
- Software and applications: Currently available software, such as computer-aided design (CAD), Google Tour Creator, and Equity Maps.
- Web development: How the internet works, how to create and design websites, and how to use online resources to aid learning.
- Integrated learning systems: Software solutions that deliver, monitor, and measure content with various tools.
- Information science: The collection, manipulation, storage, and protection of information.
The role of edtech learning in professional development for educators
While some educators prefer a trusty pencil and paper, technology is here to stay. Modern innovations make education accessible to all students and personalized to individual needs. As a result, teachers must keep on top of trends and learn how to implement edtech in the classroom. Try incorporating these methods into your lesson plans — and your own learning — to better understand technology for your teaching needs.