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With constant access to technology, children have more reasons than ever to be distracted from school. Rather than battle these distractions in the classroom, consider ways to integrate technology that will increase student excitement and engagement. Getting your kids interested in the learning process will go a long way.
For instance, podcasts are a fun alternative to reading textbooks. Using video conferencing expands the range of information available to students. Giving students multimedia projects allows for deeper learning and helps break down difficult concepts. Here are seven types of technology to consider incorporating in your classroom.
Students absorb information using multiple senses, so podcasts can be an excellent complement to reading. One of the benefits of this medium is that it’s designed to turn information into engaging stories. For instance, one way to learn about American presidents in history class is to listen to the podcast series “Presidential,” which tells of the personality and legacy of 44 presidents starting with George Washington. Listening to a well-crafted story is a nice change of pace from listening to a teacher lecturing. Here are five educational podcasts your student should be listening to.
Teachers can also assign students to create their own podcasts, giving students a creative project to demonstrate research abilities and knowledge comprehension. In instances when writing is not the main focus of learning, students may benefit from access to an alternative medium with which to communicate their knowledge. However, podcasts are also valuable in English classes to teach the principles of storytelling. Having students record podcasts also gives them a chance to practice speaking skills as an intermediate step to presentations, which create anxiety for many.
This method has the obvious advantage of letting students play games instead of doing assignments, which is sure to boost engagement in the learning process. Games encourage creative thinking and problem-solving, as well as helping visual learners better integrate information. In addition to concrete information acquisition, playing games can help students develop soft skills like collaboration and oral communication.
Schools can work with educational game developers like MIT’s Serious Games Lab to create their own games or use existing ones. Games offer a good way to learn anything from programming to writing to math.
Though arts are often overlooked, creating videos and other multimedia gives students a way to demonstrate knowledge acquisition, develop spatial and visual skills, and educate others. They will also practice writing, speaking, and research skills in the process of constructing a video.
Teachers can assign students videos that summarize what they’ve learned in class, reflect on their experience of teaching methods, offer tutorials, or present research, among other things. They can be live action or stop motion. There are many ways to use video in the classroom, and fortunately there are also many tools that make it easy to do so.
Bold educators might experiment with using social media to engage students rather than fighting to keep it out of the classroom. Teachers can invite students to ask questions throughout the day on Twitter using a specific hashtag, which makes room for introverts and shy students to join the conversation. As a bonus, this medium is available once school is over, so they can share their questions as they’re doing homework rather than save (or forget) them for the next day.
Facebook groups can be a place for students to post answers to research questions and respond to each other. There are other platforms for this kind of interaction, but digital natives are already familiar with and disposed toward the social media platforms they use every day. Here are some other ideas for using social media in the classroom.
Video conferencing with other classrooms is an alternative to group projects in class. Kids are generally excited to use technology, so this tool is a good way to boost engagement as well as expanding the communities and cultures children have access to.
There are many opportunities to use this relatively simple tool. Pair your classroom with one in another state for collaborative learning projects in English or science. Expand the way students learn about what they’re reading by setting up video conferences with public figures, subject matter experts, or authors. For language learning, create partnerships with classrooms in other countries so students can practice their skills with native speakers while also learning about their culture.
Live polling is a creative way to get around the issue of low student engagement and get valuable information to help tailor lesson plans. Rather than relying on students who are willing to raise their hands and give feedback or ask questions, ask students a question that they’ll submit an answer to via their mobile device or laptop.
Polling can be used for something as simple as taking attendance—creating an easy digital record to refer to later—or for more complex interactions such as checking understanding or exit tickets. The benefit of this technology is twofold: students are excited to do something on their devices, and teachers receive data presented in a useful way so they don’t have to spend time counting or collating information from pieces of paper. Live polling is useful for sensitive discussions, formative assessments, and other interactions.
STEM subjects may not seem interesting, but robotics does. The excitement of building a robot that performs a task is a perfect hook to draw students into learning engineering, math, and coding skills. Rather than reading and memorizing, they are interacting and creating. Beyond that, robotics projects also teach teamwork and problem-solving.
Robotics is useful in a range of subjects. These eight robots help students do anything from study astronomy to tell stories to create solutions for current global problems. Most can be adapted for learners of different ages. Experts believe robots can help students with various disabilities find more effective ways to communicate and increase engagement in learning, too.
These are just a few options. The range of technologies available today hold increasing possibilities for more engaged learning. Some are simple, some more complex, but all the options harness kids’ enjoyment of technology in their personal lives to get them more excited about their educational pursuits.