Adding technology to an existing curriculum can have incredible benefits for both teachers and students. When used properly, online resources can increase student engagement, develop critical thinking skills, and help students collaborate more with their peers.
With all the available tools to choose from, how can a teacher evaluate which one might be the best fit for their classes? Below are some fundamental questions every school owner and instructor should ask before implementing any new technology.
1. Student Learning
Educational technology is only beneficial if it can enhance the learning process for students to comprehend curriculum efficiently. A recent survey found that 94% of students stated digital learning technology has helped them retain new concepts, and this study proved increased A's and B's with the use of an engagement tool in class. It is essential for instructors to consider multiple engagement tools that can benefit students and their learning. If the technology has great bells and whistles but does not necessarily help students better understand the concepts, instructors should re-evaluate the marketplace and keep looking for the best solution.
2. Enhance Student Communication
Student response systems that allow teachers to ask questions to their entire classroom can significantly increase the amount of student engagement. Instead of relying on a few brave students to raise their hand, a teacher can send a question to the entire classroom and instantly get a response from every single student. Beyond the ability to do live student polling, a response system should also be able to allow students to interact with teachers for optimal engagement.
For example, the evaluation feature within the Grading module enables students to ask questions to teachers via the tool directly and can allow other students to view and vote on the questions asked. (Anonymously of course). Instructors can see student questions in or outside of class, reply in line, or answer top-voted questions in front of the entire class. Although students do need to have the ability to ask an important question during class, but in a large class it is sometimes not realistic to have every student ask every question they might have to the whole group. A student-generated Q & A allows the opportunity to address significant gaps in their content knowledge or skills, without interrupting important class instruction.
3. Teaching Styles
As an instructor, if you are implementing technology in class to benefit your students, it is crucial to find a tool that supports your teaching style. Many teachers currently use engagement tools in their class as a way of taking a break from lectures or to strengthen a concept and check student comprehension. When students learn the basic concepts in class, it makes it easier for them to study, and teachers can move on to the next topic more seamlessly. Choosing engagement technology that helps teachers track their students' progress over time is also essential. This way, teachers can quickly identify any struggling students and give those students extra support as needed.
4. Task Efficiency
Teachers want to invest their time wisely, and rightly so. Utilizing an engagement tool in class should not add extra work for the instructor but should instead simplify daily tasks. For example, teachers who would like to record student attendance in a class with 50 or more, manual sign-in sheets can be cumbersome and ineffective. Choosing a technology that can automatically track a student's attendance and participation in class will save both class time and data input time later.
Technology like SchoolVision can also flag any students who have logged in from outside of the classroom, and automatically report that attendance to the grade book. Be sure to invest some time up front to evaluate the modules to ensure that they will save you time upon implementation.
5. Cost Effectiveness
When adding a required technology to the syllabus, it is essential to research the price and find out if there might be another tool that can perform a similar function for less money. The inclusion of education technology should not add a significant increase to the student fees but should be justified with the improvements in student success that the technology will bring.
Many technologies like SchoolVision offer both student and institutional pay-structure models to fit the needs of your school. The best approach would be to evaluate the education technology and work with them on a pay-model that works best for your campus. SchoolVision provides a complimentary on-boarding process and training for new clients, as well as ongoing support.
6. Adequate training and support
Adding a new software tool to the classroom can increase both student success and satisfaction of the course or program. It can also make a class more motivating for instructors. However, simply creating a new account with an EdTech doesn't mean that it will produce results overnight- like your cell phone at one time, you must learn to use it!
Just as a well-designed curriculum takes time to develop and be applied, the use of a new software must be thoughtfully implemented for it to have real benefits. Ensure that any technology you decide to use offers adequate training and ongoing support to help instructors and students get started. You should be able to easily call or email an expert that can answer any of your questions at any point in the semester.
With so many education technology tools available, it can be overwhelming to find the tool that matches your school’s needs. Taking the time to answer these questions and research your options can make a big difference to the success of the classroom.
For more insight on how to use technology to engage your students, visit at SchoolVision.net or continue the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.