By Sienna Davis
Last year, the Australian EdTech Market Census found that the educational technology sector had seen a significant increase in size. This is especially evident in the past few years as the global investment for the sector increased from $500 million to $7 billion. The Australian EdTech sector also doubled in value recently, just trailing behind fintech in their list of the largest startup communities.
Now, with the educational technology market continuously growing, more technological pieces and products are emerging, helping teachers facilitate their classes smoothly and inventively. Here are four of them.
E-books are publications in digital form, which can be read on an electronic device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. However, e-books are not simply digital reading materials anymore. Today, many e-books are designed with features that make reading more interactive, such as search tool options, bookmarks, and even interactive text.
The e-books’ pages can also be easily annotated and saved, making them valuable study tools. This is in line with what educational researcher Dr. Sonke Ahrens promotes. Her book ‘How to Take Smart Notes’ lists several techniques “be it for Windows, Mac or Linux.” She emphasises how the key to writing intelligent text is in the organisation of ideas. E-books have made this much easier for students. For teachers, engaging directly with the material through e-books means being able to identify the significant parts of a lesson, so they can then create an effective discussion and assessment plan.
AR and VR Learning
With almost all educators utilising PowerPoint as their primary visual aid, sometimes the delivery of lessons tends to be homogeneous and repetitive. No matter how well-crafted the slides are, there are topics that require simulations, albeit virtual. This is where augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are making ground in the EdTech sector.
In the classroom, AR, which enhances the real world with a digital overlay, has been found to be useful in simulating real-life problem-solving in maths and science. Meanwhile, VR creates (or recreates) immersive environments, which are viewed through a specialised headset or a computer screen. Reliving history’s greatest moments, teachers can use it to take their students on a walk through ancient Rome or a visit to the International Space Station. It’s especially useful for remote classrooms.
Open Educational Resources (OERs)
There has been an influx of educational resources available online. Unfortunately, with copyright issues, not every teacher gets access to them. This is the gap that Open Educational Resources seek to resolve. These are teaching and learning materials that are placed in the public domain or released under a Creative Commons licence, meaning anyone can access, use, and distribute them with little to no restrictions.
For instance, Khan Academy offers its services for free, allowing teachers to find teaching and assessment content suitable to their learners’ needs and track their progress. Also, Vimeo has a free video editor feature for educators, so they can create engaging and entertaining learning content. Lastly, the Directory of Open-Access Journals, which is an online directory of high-quality, peer-reviewed journals, provides teachers with a wealth of accessible supplementary learning materials.
Gamification of Learning
Gamification is a developing trend that assimilates game elements in attaining learning objectives, increasing the motivation and productivity levels of students. For instance, instead of simply asking students to write a story, teachers can incorporate the game Minecraft in bringing their characters to life.
But for school administrator Jamie Beaton, gamified learning can also mean taking the reward system from games and applying to real life. This includes rewarding students with badges for every activity completed or high score-streaks if they can answer consecutive questions correctly. Technology can also be applied here, especially assistive school rewards apps like ClassDojo, LiveSchool, and RedCritter. In that way, the usual learning experiences can be made more inspiring and innovative.
It’s no secret that technology has disrupted the education sector, and these emerging trends are just proof of how learning experiences can be significantly improved. Because of them, students are more engaged and teachers can be more organised with their lessons, which inevitably leads to better academic performance and holistic development for the former.
By Sienna Davis
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