Written by Gabo Tse, BSD Education
In today’s digital age, an increasing number of schools are recognizing the value of introducing non-traditional learning tools in the classroom – namely, digital and “educational technology” (edtech) tools. This includes tools such as online learning platforms, mobile devices, web services, even AR (augmented reality)/VR (virtual reality) and more!
Introducing edtech tools in the classroom doesn’t mean relying on technology to teach a lesson for you – but rather, it is incorporating them in such a way that allows you to deliver lessons that enhance student learning and engagement. This also helps students foster valuable digital skills that are so highly sought after in today’s job market all while learning at school. You may quickly realize that embracing technology as a learning tool in the classroom opens up a vast array of possibilities, especially when it comes to teaching curriculum and organizing classroom activities. Some students may struggle with the traditional, lecture-based classroom structure, but technology offers a variety of different approaches when it comes to teaching course material, and helps to create a more fun, dynamic, and social learning environment.
Let’s take a look at a few popular examples of edtech tools and how they are used in the classroom:
- Gamifying Student Learning: Gamification is an approach that involves using game design and mechanics to structure your classroom in such a way that it that promotes student engagement and participation.
Tools like Classcraft, GradeCraft, and Rezzly transform your lesson material into a class-wide adventure game. Your students can create their own characters and work with their classmates to complete quests! Instead of earning grades such as “A” or “C”, students can earn experience points and badges to level up, and instead of traditional assignments, classroom tasks can be transformed into “quests” that help students earn experience points and badges.
Using gamification edtech software means that set-up, management, and assessment are taken care of for you, and you can avoid the headache of creating all the elements you would need for gamifying your classroom, such as quests, rewards, challenges, leveling, and progress-tracking.
- Game-based Learning: Not to be used with gamification, game-based learning uses games as a direct source of learning material. There is no doubt that students respond well to games, but rather than shunning video games as a distraction or reprimanding students for playing games in class, you can learn to embrace games as an edtech tool by using them as a direct source of course material instead.
Tools such as Kahoot, Quizizz, and Socrative allow teachers to create interactive trivia games as a way to reinforce or revise course material. After creating a game, teachers can run these quizzes as a classroom activity by displaying the game questions on a primary display. Students can use any device to “sign in” to the game to choose their answer, and compete against their classmates.
Teachers will be able to visualize, display, and track analytics in real-time, such as the number of participants, highscore, time taken to answer each question, and progress. In addition to trivia games, many of these game-based edtech tools also allow teachers to create interactive questionnaires, discussions, and surveys.
- Creation and Collaboration: Essential classroom activities such as brainstorming, collaboration, communication, and sharing ideas can all be made easier with tools such as Padlet and Buncee. These edtech tools are like virtual “bulletin boards” where students can create a variety of projects, such as a storyboard, mindmap, flowchart, bulletin board, scrapbook, newspaper, discussion forum, and more! Students can add text, multimedia (e.g. videos, images, music, etc), and invite others to collaborate on a project together.
Other ideas include hosting a live collaboration lesson where students can add their comments to your board in real time, or have students brainstorm ideas for a group project together, where they can see each other’s changes and comments.
Implementing non-traditional tools in the classroom helps increase students’ digital literacy and fosters valuable digital skills like computational thinking and collaboration, which not only help them prepare for the future but also which are all high in demand in today’s job market.
Integrating technology into the classroom can impact student learning in many ways, and this sentiment is echoed wholeheartedly in this article by Top Hat, which argues that while technology does indeed have its limits, integrating it into the classroom increases learning outcomes, student engagement, opens up education to beyond the confines of a classroom, and offers a multitude of ways for students to interact with course material.
If you’d like to find out more about non-traditional learning tools, or even try BSD’s very own online learning platform, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.