Edtech is short for education technology, and can take shape as either software or hardware, provided it serves a purpose within the context of education.
Through the use of classroom technology tools such as innovative digital platforms, edtech can aid student learning and improve the communication between teacher, student, and even parent.
These days it’s impossible to predict what tech for education will look like going forward, though one thing is for sure - it will play a significant role.
Distance learning is made possible through the use of digital teaching tools, and so if you’re a teacher or student, it’s important to understand how they can work best for both parties.
How Can Technology Help in Education?
Technology has revolutionised how we communicate with others.
Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or someone you’ve never met before in person, you can be social without ever having to leave the house.
As for its application in education, technology has proved to be a powerful facilitator of communication and an instrumental part of many lesson plans and classrooms.
Take e-learning platforms for example. Many schools will have a portal through which students can submit assignments and receive feedback from their teachers. They will also have access to useful information at their fingertips, including timetables, events, and extracurricular activities.
Plus, technological tools for teachers can boost engagement levels in students while making the educator’s life a lot more simple.
Supplementing a lesson with various educational tools online and through software can be an incredible way to make it more interesting for the learner. You can also cater to all of the different learning styles of students too, as well as the pace at which they can move through material.
Higher Engagement for Students
One of the main ways technology can help in education is by capturing the student’s attention and making the subject material more compelling.
The - perhaps unfortunate - reality of life today is that nearly everyone has a mobile phone and access to the internet.
That means attention spans might be shorter, and the use of technology can be a very effective way to hold the students’ attention for longer.
As a teacher, it’s a good idea to leave as much up to the student as possible. Independent learning is a critical skill to develop, as it is required in higher education institutions to a great degree.
At school, this independent learning can take the form of a simple online research project, which involves the students finding key information about a subject before presenting their findings.
This promotes technological literacy and also helps students summarise and condense information in a succinct way, which can be a useful skill to have in the workplace.
More Convenience for Teachers
As well as boosting engagement in students, the implementation of technology in the classroom can add convenience for teachers.
Class dojo is an online educational tool which can be linked up to an app on the teachers’ phone. This app allows you to assign each student a colourfully designed monster, and assign or remove points based on their behaviour and performance in the class.
Tools like this one can be extremely effective for getting the students’ attention, and the simple deduction of a point for bad behaviour prompts a noise that will often hush the whole class.
As a result, there’s less need to scream until your voice goes hoarse. Discipline is just one way technology can make things more convenient for the teacher.
There’s also software like Turnitin which will keep students’ honest in their assignments, as it will find examples of potential plagiarism in their work.
It’s also a handy platform for teachers to use as they can keep track of every assignment that has been submitted, and which are still missing.
What are the best educational technology tools for teachers
There are a whole host of useful education technology tools for teaching, but some can be seen as absolutely essential.
The following educational technology resources can transform the learning environment within a classroom, or indeed even outside of it.
Turnitin is one of those online educational tools which is universally known and used by many schools and teachers.
The goal of this software is to promote academic integrity, and encourage the students to be original in their work.
The increase in the use of the internet at home makes it possible for students to simply copy and paste sections of a text into their homework submissions to avoid doing the work themselves.
This kind of plagiarism would be very difficult to spot as a teacher, since it would require a database-like knowledge of Wikipedia and other information-based websites.
This is where Turnitin steps in though and scours through submitted assignments to flag potential plagiarism and make sure what the students are writing belongs to their minds alone.
A feature of many classrooms these days, an interactive whiteboard is an invaluable resource which can be drawn upon for all sorts of tasks.
The interactive whiteboard is essentially the blackboard made for the 21st century mind.
When you have all the allure of the internet and technology at home and in your pocket, it can be hard to stay focussed on a teacher writing out sentences with chalk on the blackboard.
The interactive whiteboard gives the learner a chance to engage with the material, rather than watch the teacher engage with it.
With a touch screen, you can invite students up to the front of the classroom to do everything from setting the time on a digital clock to filling in the blank for grammar exercises.
Edmodo is more than just a tool, it’s a complete educational platform designed for use in K-12 schools and teachers.
Through Edmodo, the teacher can carry out a variety of tasks from sharing content relevant to a lesson, to setting quizzes and assignments, to communicating with the students and parents.
Edmodo is essentially an attempt at recreating the classroom environment online, which is useful for several reasons.
For a start, it’s a very handy way for keeping students engaged with the subject long after they have finished studying it in the classroom.
But it’s also a great way to stay in touch with the students and also the parents, so there’s a synergistic feel to the learning process which involves all parties and extends to outside the school’s walls.
How to integrate technology into your classroom
While there are so many brilliant online educational tools out there, integrating the technology into your classroom can seem challenging.
To use the example of Classdojo again, it can seem disruptive to try a whole new disciplinary approach with students you’ve likely been teaching for a while.
However, it doesn’t need to change your teaching style, as you can adapt it to fit your needs as an educator.
In this instance you could aim to implement the new system at the start of a new term, a new week, or a new year, since this will seem like a fresh slate for everyone involved and make the transition more logical.
Carry Out Projects
Projects is one of those words which can draw a sharp intake of breath or a groan from the students. If done correctly though, a project can be a very satisfying task for the students to sink their teeth into.
The way to make a project more engaging is by encouraging the use of technology as a way of researching.
Asking a student to look through a book to find out information about the sea might not seem like the most interesting task to them.
Asking them to go home and find interesting facts about the sea using the internet though can be a whole different ball game.
Then, based on what the students find interesting in their own research, you can go in all sorts of directions.
This makes the students feel like they can have a role in what they learn in the classroom, and can increase their connection to the material.
Use it to Boost Attention
One of the best ways to implement technology in the classroom is to revive the students’ attention.
While hitting the blackboard with the eraser is one way of bringing students back to the present moment, it can be jarring for everyone and only tends to work temporarily.
A better solution would be to use technology at the right moments to increase learner engagement with the material.
Say you’ve just explained what the countries of Europe are and you can sense the students are starting to get restless.
Load up a website like Seterra, and project it onto the interactive whiteboard.
Have the students come up one by one and try to guess correctly which country is on the map.
This can serve to reinforce their knowledge of countries in Europe, and the fun that they have in placing them on the map will likely create stronger associations in the mind.