Society has progressed into the digital age, and the field of education has advanced right along with it. Teachers must now reach out to a generation that is more comfortable asking questions by talking to Siri than by raising a hand in the physical classroom.
Whether you teach at a school that offers hundreds of iPads or a single dinosaur computer with dial-up (if that’s still even a thing), the following tips and tools will help you use technology in the classroom to foster learning in your tech-savvy students.
1. Bring teaching into a digital environment.
Ever wish there was “an app for that” when it came to teaching? Well, platforms such as Edmodo, Schoology, and Moodle are now available to help teachers stay on top of course content, assignments, and assessments. Your students (and you) will love the ease and convenience that modern technology offers.
2. Give your students a leg up in grammar
With access to a top-notch online grammar class, pesky spelling and grammar questions can finally be answered with ease! This resource allows older students to learn at home or in the classroom with interactive games and quizzes to help them retain lesson material.
3. Teach every subject, from physics to gym, using iPads.
With its internal accelerometers and balance sensors, the iPad is capable of recording the precise measurements necessary for physics experiments (e.g., with the Clinometer app). Ideal for kinesthetic learners, mobile devices can be used in gym class to assess students’ exertion and balance capabilities.
4. Liven up math, geography, and other subjects with Google Maps.
Are your students bored with English literature, math problems, or geographic measurements? No sweat! Recapture their interest with Google Maps, which has innumerable applications for education. Games such as Smarty Pins and Earth-Picker combine computer literacy with educational trivia, while My Maps lets you create your own maps and learn how to read them. With a little creativity, Google Maps is a valuable learning tool in the classroom.
5. Encourage your students to download free ebooks.
Ebooks that are in the public domain are available through Project Gutenberg, a site that offers a wide variety of classic literature for free. If you teach literature in a post-secondary school, you can provide links to electronic versions of your course texts to save your students some money (and to save paper).
6. Enhance audio learning with recording apps.
Not only can you record group discussions with a voice-recording app, but you can also use audio recordings to improve students’ ability to read aloud. Students can record their reading multiple times and listen to the audio playback. This can help students hear their levels of fluency while reading and recognize when they are speaking with expression. Though technology can have a distancing effect (e.g., paying attention to Facebook rather than the textbook), it can also help students to engage with concepts in unprecedented ways.
7. Have fun with SMART Boards.
Kids love moving, seeing, hearing, and interacting with information in exciting ways. What better method to bring all these teaching modes together than interactive whiteboards? In addition to their uses for notetaking, brainstorming, and media presentations, you can play games with your students using SMART Boards. Download templates for games like Jeopardy!, use interactive websites such as BrainPOP, or do some research to discover other relevant whiteboard activities.
8. Roll call? Or Balloon Pop?
Given the various options for using technology in the classroom, having students shout “Here!” and raise their hands seems a bit out of date. Instead of counting those outstretched arms by hand (no pun intended), you can use an interactive whiteboard to keep track of attendance. Students can even be made responsible for their own morning check-ins by tapping virtual balloons with their names on them. This use of technology saves time and helps you keep track of your class all at once.
9. Connect students to professionals and peers with Skype.
Though students are tempted to text in class, communication applications can be channeled for educational use. Programs such as the Skype an Author Network allow you to arrange interactive Q&A sessions with authors of children’s books for free. Or, you can use Skype to interact with other classrooms, enable remote participation and collaboration, or practice speaking in another language. Make the call (okay, that was a pun) to use technology to your classroom’s advantage.
10. Promote collaborative skills using Google Docs.
The importance of collaboration in educational, professional, and business sectors cannot be taught through teacher-oriented methods of learning (e.g., “the talking head” of traditional lectures). To prepare students for the working world, use platforms such as Google Docs for group projects. One idea is to have your students write collaborative stories using different font colors to keep track of each student’s edits. This program is also handy for shared research projects.
11. Use apps to get instant feedback.
If you’re wondering how your students are responding to your use of technology in the classroom, why not have them fill out a poll to receive their feedback? Use apps and programs such as Mentimeter, Poll Everywhere, or Socrative to gauge students’ responses to content-related questions or teaching-related feedback in real time. For once, mobile phones in class aren’t a distraction to learning.
Remember, technology is an incredible tool that can either enhance your students’ education or detract from it. If used creatively, apps, websites, resources, and devices can prepare your students with an education that is suitable for the digital age.