There are many reasons to use technology in the classroom. These are the top five:
To personalise learning
Personalised learning has the ability to accelerate the progress of students because it teaches students what they need to know from their own starting point. To do this old-style is almost impossible and requires many many hours of planning and differentiation from teachers, however, edTech allows this to happen naturally. Some schools have gone the whole hog and made their entire curriculum cloud-based on ability, for other schools this may not be practical. Instead, all schools can use some edTech to personalise learning such as Lexia, SkillsMastery and Learn2000. Platforms and web-based applications allow students to start at their own level and work at their own pace using teachers as mediators in their learning when help is needed.
To encourage active learning
Active learning encourages students to engage with and challenge their own thinking. There are some occasions where didactic teaching is needed, however, how does a teacher know that their student is learning or even listening? There are the mini-plenaries, the ongoing-formative assessment, questioning etc. Techniques which are standard, but what about those who accept the passivity of this model. Can you guarantee that every student is getting the most out of your teaching? EdTech can minimise the passengers. Applications like Nearpod mean that all the students interact with the teacher in real time. Questions can be sent to the whole class, with a whole class response needed, with the best answers being displayed anonymously. If a student knows that they are going to have to provide answers then they may listen. Using tools provided by websites like Triptico means that questions may be directed to students at random, making sure that all have understood.
To encourage independent learning
Independent learning shifts the responsibility of the learning process from teacher to student and helps students understand their own learning. Technology makes it easy to provide options for accomplishing goals. Students make their own decision about which approach is best suited to their communications style and can choose whether they wish to present a book review for instance, as a Prezi, PowerPoint, video or podcast. The technology helps with the creation of an environment where independent learning is successful and therefore improve achievement and motivation.
Expansion of time and place
While technology is no substitute for an inspiring teacher, online materials are far more available. At school, a student has limited access to a teacher and that time is shared with 30 others, whereas older students may have access to the Internet at home and at school. This means that if they don’t understand something then they can use the Internet (after they have been taught how to use the internet safely and appropriately) when they are stuck or didn’t understand something immediately rather than having to wait for the teacher. It allows learning to happen anywhere.
Narrowing the gap between the digital natives and those who are not
The gap between rich and poor, advantaged and disadvantaged pervades every facet of life. It starts with early language experience in the home (vocabulary and grammar), moves into cultural capital and affects the use of digital media. Some children, the digital natives, who have been brought up in technologically rich environments are true natives, knowing more about IT than teachers could ever know, whereas some children may have only experienced computers at school or games consoles. This disadvantage holds them back in school and will hold them back in life. While the digital natives come to school intrinsically knowing how to use technology effectively and appropriately switching between applications and equipment seamlessly, for others this is just another area where they fail. Teaching students how to harness technology develops their independence, collaborative skills and resilience as they learn from their mistakes and try again. However, these soft skills need to be taught and integrated into a child’s school experience.
Here are some ways that technology can be used in the classroom beyond using Powerpoint for presentations and Word to type up essays:
- Create mindmaps using free software
- Use the various interactive tools on Triptico to make learning fun
- Share work online
- Create Facebook Profiles or Instagram accounts for fictional characters
- Revise grammar by making infographics
- Use Lexia, Achieve 2000 or SkillsMastery for intervention
- Learn vocabulary by finding images to match the vocab
- Create a class Pinterest board with easy explanations of grammar for parents
Try these websites for more ideas: