Try bringing up the topic of technology at school, especially as it relates to mobile devices. You may be saddened and disappointed that the response is largely reactive. People bemoan the idea that students have these devices in class, and seem to see only them as a tool of distraction. That’s a shame because technology in the classroom of all kinds should be viewed as an opportunity. Thankfully, innovators have brought us some great technologies that make education better.
Augmented And Virtual Reality
AR and VR are immersive technologies that have already proven to get students engaged. With augmented reality, students use their mobile devices to interact with computer-generated elements that are created to enhance the existing environment. For example, a student may scan a QR code next to a piece of artwork on the wall. That action triggers an interactive lesson about the artist, and their techniques.
VR is similar, except that it involves full immersion. Imagine students wearing VR goggles, and taking a virtual tour of a museum, or walking the trails of a National Park. This is a great way for students who live in outlying areas or learning remotely to go on field trips, even engage with students living across the globe.
This development isn’t exciting, but it has proven to be innovative nonetheless. Thanks to cloud computing, students can access their assignments, reading materials, and other files from anywhere. This technology also allows for document sharing and collaboration. All students need is an internet connection, and a means to connect to a dedicated cloud server.
Dana Stacks an Ed Tech writer at Writing Universe says, “Thanks to cloud computing, students have fewer roadblocks to learning. They are empowered to access the resources they need, even if they may be struggling with transportation issues or other problems.”
Classroom Based Social Media
Many educators see social media as the bane of their existence, certainly not technological innovation. However, by taking a more open-minded approach, some teachers have experienced some real benefits. Some are using Facebook to set up classroom pages, and private groups for students. Others are using tools such as Edmodo to allow students to share work, engage in discussions with one another, and send messages. All of this is done within an environment that can be appropriately monitored and used to keep parents up to speed.
Done well, these technologies can be used to encourage proper social development and interactions. Students can also engage with one another in positive ways. This might include cooperating over a group project, or reaching out to a struggling student researching essays for sale online. There are many ways to use classroom-based social media to improve learning and engagement.
Gamification in education has been a hot topic for a few years now. It’s the practice of teaching through the use of games, or the use of gaming elements. The former is pretty self-explanatory. There are virtually limitless educational games on a range of subjects for students at every grade level. The latter is a bit more complex. It involves using the elements of gameplay that have proven to create the most engagement. These might include:
- Creating Avatars
- Advancing Through Levels
- Creating And Displaying Leaderboards
- Offering Badges For Educational Accomplishments
It turns out that these actions aren’t just fun additions to the learning experience. They truly make a difference. Studies have shown that gamification really does improve outcomes.
Polling And Assessments
Teachers can use audience response systems to get immediate feedback from students, during lectures. This allows them to discern whether students understand what they are being taught at the moment. Further, students know they may be polled at any time, and are more likely to stay engaged.
Here are some other benefits:
- Students enjoy using their mobile devices in class.
- Teachers can provide clarification in the moment, instead of waiting for a test or quiz to learn students lack understanding.
- Learners feel more motivated to pay attention and learn.
- Assessments help students gain confidence when they learn that they are on track.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of teaching students how to research and giving them the tools to do so. At one point, the research involved a trip to the library to review periodicals, even look at microfilm. Of course, that presumed that a library that students could access was readily available. Later, students could research using computers. Again, that required access that was rarely on-demand.
Today, students don’t have to wait for ‘library day’ or ‘computer lab time’ to conduct research. They can do so, at any moment, from their own devices or one provided by the school.
Educational technology is rapidly evolving. Students are the benefactors of this as they continue to be able to access tools and technologies that help them learn. Author Bio: Elizabeth Baldridge is an experienced writer and researcher. She works on content for a variety of medium and small businesses, with a focus on marketing and ed-tech. When she has a moment of spare time, she enjoys reading and her family.