Technology can be a wonderful tool to utilise in the classroom, and there are many ways you can integrate it seamlessly into your lessons.
From coming up with creative collaboration tools for students to facilitate group work, to gamified learning and giving life to a lesson plan, there is a whole host of practical applications of technology in the classroom.
Perhaps the best element of having technology on hand as an educator, is that it can help you do your job to the best of your ability.
Technology can act as a tool to manage the classroom one minute, and a means by which the students can engage with the lesson material interactively the next.
Once both students and teachers are on board with using technology in the classroom, the sky's the limit.
Use Technology To Plan Lessons
Technology can help in education at any stage of the process.
As a teacher you can use technology to come up with exciting lesson plans, use it to deliver the lessons in an engaging way, and then use it to assign homework and independent research after the class.
One of the best ways to integrate technology in the classroom is make use of some of the many Edtech tools for teachers.
If you’re a teacher, you’ll know how challenging it is to organise events, activities, and just about anything else with all of the students.
Some students will diligently write down important events and test dates in their notebooks, but others won’t realise the importance of having everything written down.
It seems inevitable a lot of the time when you’re about to start a class that there’ll be at least one student in class who hasn’t brought the right textbook or stationary.
A good way to combat this forgetfulness or lack of organisation in the students is to get together and create a classroom calendar.
A simple app like Google Calendar is great for this purpose because it allows you to add in events and reminders, colour code them, and then share them with whoever needs to see them.
Through a calendar app like this one, you can keep all of the students up to date on important dates, homework due dates, and upcoming tests.
The best part about this approach is that if you feel like the students will still struggle to stay on top of everything, you can rope in the parents by sharing the calendar with them too.
That way, there's a 3 way connection between teacher, student, and parent. This will reduce instances of misunderstanding or misinterpretation will likely be reduced substantially.
Digital Field Trip
A powerful tool to have in your arsenal when it comes to creating a special lesson plan is the digital field trip.
This is a use of technology that should be reserved for special occasions, as it is likely to be met with a lot of excitement in the classroom.
If you’re teaching geography or even a subject like history where you are bringing up various countries or specific cities, a digital field trip can be a highly memorable way to make it stick in the student’s minds.
You can use your time before the lesson to plan out a trip from one place to another, and jot down some questions you could ask along the way about the things the students see or material related to it.
There are various tools you can use to make the class feel as if they have been transported to another place, the most popular of which has to be Google Earth or Google Street View.
While at this point these tools might seem very commonplace, you might be surprised at how much students tend to relish the opportunity to ‘walk’ around a different country or city.
As you’re going on this virtual trip you can throw out the questions you’ve prepared to the class, especially if you’re teaching a language since you can ask about vocabulary and what the students can see.
This is a free resource available to you whenever you want to try something different and give the students an immersive experience to strengthen their connection to the subject material.
It’s also not a bad idea to consult the students about where they want to go on this digital field trip, as having some kind of input can help them get more invested in the idea.
You could use technology to create a polling system if you really want to create excitement around the various digital field trip options you propose.
Use Technology During Class
There’s literally no end to the possibilities of using technology during class.
We’ll touch on some of the best educational technology tools to use in the classroom here, but you might find that some of the best classes you have are the ones you improvise with the technology at your disposal.
Gamify the lesson
The number one struggle for the majority of educators (aside from classroom management) is how to keep the students interested and motivated in every lesson.
In this regard, technology can be a real lifesaver.
Whether for good or bad, technology has taken over our professional and personal lives, and this extends to many children too.
Between social media and gaming, it’s almost inevitable that most children have come into contact with technology or use it most days in their home lives.
As a result, as sad as it is to say, attention spans are getting shorter in the classroom.
The allure of a textbook and blackboard isn’t what it once was, and it’s harder than ever to prevent the student’s minds from wandering as you try to teach the subject material.
With that in mind, why not leverage the thing which a lot of children enjoy more than anything else?
Why not gamify your lessons and introduce interactive elements which will have the students looking forward to class?
One way to do this would be using software such as Labster, which puts the students in the lab digitally, and gives them free reign to do all the experiments they want without any of the mess.
Another fun resource is the website Seterra, which has you place countries or geographical elements like mountains or rivers where they should go on a digital map.
You can also throw quizzes and videos into the class to keep the students on their toes and keep things entertaining.
Project this with an interactive whiteboard and you can make it into a fun challenge for the class.
Another fantastic use of technology in education is for classroom management.
Managing a class of children can be difficult whether there are 10 students or 30.
As a result, anything that can help is worth considering, and one tool we would particularly recommend is ClassDojo.
If you’re not familiar with it, ClassDojo is a website for classroom management that is also available as an app you can have on your phone.
ClassDojo allows the students in a class to pick their own unique monster, and employs a points system to keep the students engaged in class.
If the student performs a task well or behaves impeccably, then you can give them a point in front of the class. On the other hand, if they slack or misbehave, you can subtract a point.
You can use the points system to motivate the students to work towards a common goal, or prize if you decide to go that route.
You can also use it to give the students a clear indication of how close they are from a letter home to their parents or a trip to the headmaster’s office, which should keep them in check.
Every time you give or take a point from the whole class or an individual student, there’ll be a corresponding sound, which after a while of having the system in place should cause an instant reaction in the students.
Technology Outside of the Classroom
Technology isn’t just useful inside the classroom, but also outside of it.
You can use it to assign homework, give feedback on essays, and provide the students with research-based projects to do on their own terms.
Handle Assignments with TurnitIn
If you haven’t heard of TurnitIn before, then you should definitely look into it.
TurnitIn is an educational tool or system which you can use to set assignments, check for plagiarism, and provide feedback to students.
This tool is more common at secondary or grammar school level, since it’s primarily intended to prevent students from taking the easy route when it comes to essays and other written assignments.
Having a system like this can not only save you a lot of work, but it can also help keep your students honest which is important for their long term academic success.
A student that aces all of their assignments but borrows heavily from online sources isn’t likely to improve their writing, whereas one who has been made aware of potential plagiarism will want to step their game up to avoid the embarrassment of plagiarising others’ work.