If you’re a teacher, you’ve likely heard about all the ways that technology can support you in the classroom. Whether it’s tablets and smart boards, or the Internet and social media, technology influences the modern classroom in too many ways to count. But most teachers don’t get a manual that shows them how to effectively use and implement this kind of technology in the classroom.
This is the first in a series of articles designed to help you understand how technology can empower you and your students. We’ll explore how digital tools can help teachers and students succeed, and how you can use that tech in a safe and professional way. Learning how technology is shaping the world of learning will help you see how it fits into your specific needs and your goals as an educator.
Technology can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll show you how to get started with the right tools for you and your students.
There are a multitude of tools, devices and apps that are specifically designed to help teachers do what they do best. Most teachers who use technology in the classroom will agree: It makes their lives easier.
Unsurprisingly, one of the fastest-growing education trends is the increasing use of laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices for learning. In particular, smartphones are becoming an increasingly common tool in the classroom, and more students expect to have essential information available on mobile.
6 ways classroom technology helps teachers
- Automating everyday tasks. One of the greatest benefits of using technology in the classroom is that it saves time. A number of apps are designed to help teachers record attendance so the task doesn’t take time out of their day. Students can mark their names on a tablet when they enter the door, even if the teacher is busy preparing for class. Other tasks can be eliminated completely – e.g. photocopying and stapling is no longer necessary when students can access their assignments online.
- Simplified grading. Grading is a breeze with online tools that instantly interpret test answers on a mass scale. Many apps give teachers status reports so they can gain a bird’s eye view of each student’s progress. These reports also pinpoint areas of improvement, allowing teachers to identify learning struggles earlier in the year. In addition to making grading easier for teachers, technology helps students get the help and attention they need.
- Online lesson planning and storage. The Internet is full of inspiration and ideas from other teachers. Instead of creating a new lesson plan from scratch every day, teachers can repurpose and reuse great ideas from other educators.
Storing and sharing lessons in the cloud lets teachers access lessons anytime, from anywhere. Digital lesson planning also allows teachers to quickly access and apply their own lessons from past years – no filing cabinets required.
- Fast feedback and workflows. Teachers can use Google Drive and other cloud applications for faster editing and grading. When students submit their work online, teachers can easily access it without having to juggle papers. This creates a more meaningful revision workflow between teachers and students because teachers can see exactly what students have changed. The cloud also enables students to collaborate with each other on assignments and projects.
- Meeting state standards. More lesson planning tools are equipped with Common Core standards, making it easier to check all the boxes for standardised tests. Teachers can also find lesson plan ideas and templates that meet specific standards for grades and states on the Internet and in lesson planning apps.
- School safety. An unexpected benefit of classroom technology is school safety. Teachers and administrators have the power to lock all school doors and send emergency announcements at the click of a button. Teachers can also use automated email and text alerts to instantly communicate with a large number of parents. While information about weather delays and school closures can be sent out quickly and efficiently thanks to technology.
8 ways classroom technology helps students
- Preparing children for the future. There’s no denying that we’re moving toward a technology-driven society. Knowing how to use technology – everything from digital menus to self-driving cars – prepares students for the future. Technology skills learned early can support the growth of students both in their careers and personal lives.
- Career preparedness. Internet skills are essential for success in higher education. College students will have to use a variety of apps beyond word processing. They’ll also use tablets and share digital information. Students can explore potential careers online and through career workshops. Finding inspirational professionals on social media can help students network and connect with mentors.
- Digital citizenship. Learning to present yourself on the Internet is an increasingly important skill. When students grasp digital citizenship at an early age, they’re more likely to present themselves accurately and safely. This increases each student’s professional opportunities because it ensures they won’t be dismissed outright as a result of inappropriate online content. Another part of digital citizenship is learning how to stay safe by using tools like password managers and multifactor authentication, plus learning to identify scams.
- Life skills. Searching for jobs, writing cover letters, and sending emails are all crucial skills for 21st century success. Students who know how to express themselves well online are much better equipped for a competitive job market. Learning to create a basic website or implement a social media strategy also makes students more desirable candidates in a competitive job market.
- Supporting collaboration and connection. Technology enables students to connect with people in the classroom and around the globe. Learning how to use digital tools to collaborate on projects prepares students for nearly any career. Connecting to students in other parts of the world fosters cultural learning and teaches students how to work with people who are different from them. While the Internet can sometimes be an ugly place full of hate, it can also provide an immense sense of community and support when used wisely.
- Classroom websites. Students of any age can benefit from classroom websites. They often foster connections between students and create a place for them to collaborate on group projects. They also benefit students by creating a shared sense of belonging and community. Websites, which are usually filled with student work, classroom updates, and assignments, mimic what it’s like to be part of an online forum or group. Students can gain experience designing and editing the site as well as uploading files to the site.
- Global citizens. Technology connects students to other classrooms in different countries across the globe. Learning how other students live promotes cultural understanding and reduces fear of those who are different. It also helps students develop interests in travel, other cultures, and different career paths.
- Historical context. TheInternet connects students to archives from around the world. Students can learn about their world through images, videos and text archives. The Internet can also illuminate the past – accessing historical archives makes history lessons more relevant and tangible.
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