The ways you can incorporate Edtech in the school setting today are infinite – videos in the classroom, PowerPoint presentations and audio files are just a few examples.
But what about organizing your classroom using technology? With online tools and resources, teachers are better equipped than ever to keep their classroom running seamlessly, while also bringing the 21st century education standards to their students.
Educators must take advantage of available technology to retain the attention of today’s modern and consistently “plugged-in” student and parent. The technology savvy student of today is constantly connected via smart phones and/or laptops while setting new standards in communication via a variety of social media platforms. Texting and instant messaging brings up to the minute information, conditioning students to expect instant gratification. Yet, when students walk into school, they are instructed to “power-down” the very technology that drives most of their every waking moment, contradicting the idea of the 21st century classroom that is always connected.
It’s important to remember that today’s youth have become “social” learners or collaborative learners. They are inclined to use technology to research and manage their lives rather than the traditional materials, including textbooks or daily planners.
As technology is such an integral element of the daily lives of young people today, educators should take advantage of an approach that will actively engage students at school and at home. Through online teaching tools, teachers can address the unique learning styles of individual students using multimedia formats and unconventional methods.
With the technology of a classroom webpage, teachers can develop lesson plans, create content, craft assignments and deliver quizzes and tests to be completed at home or in the classroom. Students can take advantage of additional resources such as video clips, links to subject matter resources and direct communication with teachers and classmates through blogs or discussion boards.
More than two-thirds of public schools have Internet access, linking them to thousands of online tools and resources for classroom management. It’s time the education community became more linked in than ever before. Here are a few tips on how to utilize online resources to prepare for back to school:
Using a variety of available on-line tools accessed via the Internet, teachers can create multimedia assignments and quizzes, allowing teachers and students to link classroom concepts and lesson plans to 21st century learning standards. The use of online quizzes and diagnostic assessment tools offers teachers and students almost immediate feedback and grading, appeasing the students’ expectation for instant gratification.
Uploading and Sharing
With various online tools, uploading and sharing documents and media files is easy and helpful for anyone in the education space. Teachers can share helpful files with their colleagues, share content related to lessons with their students and share their work with their school’s administrators. Various files are usually acceptable – anything from PDFs to CSVs to Microsoft Docs – and, thus, instantly available via the school’s management system or online tool.
In the traditional classroom, teachers were expected to be knowledgeable about a wide variety of topics—any information outside of their expertise was found in volumes of books. Now, classrooms can connect with each other in a way that never would have been possible without the use of electronic mail and websites.
There are a range of benefits in sharing information online, quickly and easily. Many teachers are now uploading course materials to on-line multimedia delivery solutions allowing students to download information from home.
With the ability to upload and share educational materials, endless handouts and documents that previously drained schools’ resources are no longer an issue. Students can download the information and decide whether printing is a necessity, thus saving time and benefiting the environment.
Adding blogging to your classroom lesson plans and technology integration strengthens communication with students and parents. These can be used to share important classroom information with parents actively involved in their children’s schoolwork, as well as share upcoming news with students so they are always prepared. It’s a quick and easy option to digitally stay connected.
The ease of blogging technology benefits teachers and students alike. They require little technical knowledge, can be quickly created and are easily maintained. Unlike traditional web sites, they are flexible in design and can be reformatted easily. Students will find the content convenient and accessible at the library or at home, thus extending the teachers reach beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Additionally, the technology of blogs provides students the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on any given topic allowing them to exchange ideas and consider different perspectives. A blog essentially provides an “instant audience” where instructional tips and peer review are simply a mouse click away.
Online calendar tools are essential for organizing lesson plans and classroom activities in one comprehensive place. This tool helps teachers keep on schedule, as well as enables them to notify and remind their students about important events, assignments, quizzes and tests.
Online calendars also benefit parents by providing immediate access to information about classroom and school events, activities and appointments. Gone is the communication gap between students and parents—with online calendar technology, parents are kept in the loop with their children’s education at all times.
Podcasts have become one of the more popular technological initiatives available to teachers today. As a series of digital media files shared via software such as iTunes, podcasts work well with history lessons (i.e. by decade) or subjects, lesson by lesson. This ed-tech tool can organize your classroom lesson with just one click.
Today’s students are consistently plugged in—a vast majority regularly using an iPod or smart phone to listen to music at home, at the gym, even within school walls. However, the capabilities of these technologies extend far beyond the realm of music. By teachers making daily lessons available via audio files, students can review classroom materials and study for exams, using the same technology they use every day for communication or entertainment.
Teachers might be less familiar with the digital format of files and the modern MP3 player; however, using audio for teaching is not a new concept. A podcast combines an established technology with the tried and true method of verbally presenting ideas and concepts.
We live in a world that is always “connected” and as a result, tremendous new pressures have been placed on Teachers in today’s classrooms. Technology is ever changing, making it extremely important and advantageous for teachers, parents and students to keep up to date on the latest technological advances. While there are many more ways to incorporate online tools for classroom organization, these few examples are a great start in helping you manage your 21st century classroom.
Ed Murphy is the vice president of marketing and business development at Learn360, an on demand multi-media and streaming video provider to the K-12 education market. Learn360 also offers blogging tools, discussion boards, assignment and quiz applications, and more to educators, students and parents. For more information on Learn360, visit www.learn360.com.