As technology permeates more and more areas of our lives, it’s no wonder that it’s starting to infiltrate the school classroom as well. At the beginning of 2016, public schools in the United States offered one computer or more per every five students. The vast majority of schools also have internet access available for students. Because of the advances in technology, there’s no longer a need for three-ring binders, worksheets, or textbooks. Tablets or computers can easily house all of information a student might need for an entire day of classes.
Often times, the technology that seems most attractive for the classroom is the latest and greatest with shiny bells and whistles. In fact, 81 percent of teachers believe that tablets can enrich classroom learning, and, after one year using iPads, math scores increased for students by 20 percent. However, while the educational factor of new technology is what’s really most important, it is also the factor most frequently overlooked.
Here we discuss three factors to look for in edtech as you start searching for products to add to your classroom while gearing up for the school year ahead.
1. It’s not distracting to the learning environment.
Educators have enough trouble getting students to pay attention during normal lessons with common classroom distractions: other students, hallway noise, etc. By introducing flashy technology with lights and sounds, the problem worsens. When considering tech for your classroom, take a look at the product. Try it out yourself. Does the product play music constantly while children play with it? Does it have flashing lights or obtrusive colors? Are you able to customize the audio-visual display for differing learning scenarios?
It’s important to invest in edtech products that feel like a natural part of your classroom. The strongest edtech products pose both an aesthetically pleasing exterior so children are drawn to play with them, and are unobtrusive when it comes to display.
2. It can be adjusted to different learning levels.
As the school year progresses, childrens’ knowledge base increases. Certain edtech products are good for teaching one specific lesson, but quickly become obsolete once children have learned that particular skill. While those kind of tools can still be valuable, educators can maximize their investment in edtech by choosing an option that is able to teach more than one lesson, and decrease or increase in difficulty. For example, a great edtech app will be able to teach kids ranging in ages and skill levels. The app will also be able to teach lessons in letter recognition, phonics, and spelling depending on the age of the child using it.
Tech that students can use as their knowledge base grows will keep them engaged, and continue to be a valuable resource for you.
When students have the chance to manipulate physical objects, they’re more inclined to learn elementary concepts and methods. Many edtech products available today combine physical object manipulation and interactive learning with technology. Be sure to find edtech toys, apps or hardware that instigate physical manipulation to help students envision and fully comprehend their lessons. These types of products are particularly helpful when teaching mathematics.
While edtech products rapidly advance, it’s important to be cognizant of the reason the products were originally invented – to help students learn and to help teachers teach. Be sure that you are investing in edtech of the highest quality by using the tips above as a guide.
Marie Merouze is the founder and CEO of Marbotic, an IoT startup focusing on the creating of connected devices for children. Marbotic has two flagship products: Smart Letters and Smart Numbers.
Marie was previously an edTech consultant for BeTomorrow, a company focused on the innovation of connected products for the web and mobile. Marie has her Masters in Engineering from Ecole Centrale Paris, an engineering graduate institution.