Technology has transformed the way teachers teach and students learn. It can be utilized to improve teaching strategies and help students learn in ways that were never before imaginable. When asked, 92% of teachers said that the internet has had a major impact on their ability to access content and use a variety of resources and materials. With this increase in available teaching tools and information, knowledge truly is at students’ fingertips and their learning has the possibility of becoming limitless. Technology opens doors and improves many aspects of the classroom, including asking and answering questions, new and improved learning models, grading processes, personalized learning experiences, and teacher professional development.
How Students Ask Questions and Find Answers
Technology has improved the way students ask questions and find answers. Particularly for those students who may be too timid to raise their hand or may be learning in a second language, asking questions is easier than ever. Students can use text-to-voice messaging by talking into their devices and having their questions translated into text. They are also able to record themselves talking or reading and then send the recording as an audio file. This is the case when you send an audio iMessage. WhatsApp can also be used for speaking into the phone and having a message sent as spoken text. Additionally, VoiceThread is a tool that students can use to practice their communication skills by recording their voices overtop of images, documents, and videos. When it comes to other ways of asking questions or finding answers, searching using hashtags on social media is a quick and easy way to access a variety of information and varying perspectives. Teachers are no longer the sole bearer of information in the classroom, and technology continues to make it easier and easier for students to ask and answer questions effortlessly and efficiently.
Types of Learning Models
Technology is improving the learning models teachers use when instructing. With this increase of available technology, models such as inquiry-based and project-based learning are being more widely implemented in the classroom. These models allow students to explore questions and discover answers without limits. Students can practice their 21st century skills such as teamwork, problem solving, research gathering, and synthesizing while self-directing their learning in a student-centered approach. These learning models can help students develop a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems they are interested in. Schools where this learning model is practiced find a decline in absenteeism, an increase in cooperative learning skills, and an improvement in student achievement.
Student and parent awareness of grades through an every-few-month report card is a thing of the past. Now grades are being accessed on a regular basis. Some students are viewing grades daily through learning management systems such as Schoology, Google Classroom, or Haiku Learning. Here, teachers score assignments and students can view individual assignment grades or their cumulative grade at any time. With LMS (learning management systems) such as these, students are able to access previous assignments and look back on past notes or learning. Even without an LMS in place, teachers are turning to technology to help with the grading process. Various apps automatically collect user data that gets emailed to the teacher (Prodigy, The Learning Odyssey, IXL). This provides teachers with another means of tracking student progress and making informed decisions on student learning.
As mentioned, grading processes have been made easier through learning management systems or apps that generate personalized assessment information. Because of this, teachers are able to provide more individualized instruction for students. Many math apps allow teachers to program students in at a particular level (Prodigy and IXL are two examples). From there, students advance based on readiness. Many reading apps are also able to be personalized. Lalilo is a literacy program that allows teachers to place students into one of three categories where students work on a range of beginning phonics skills up to basic comprehension. Teach Monster is an engaging app where students teach their monster to read, starting with letters and sounds and progressing up to full sentences. Learning is more personalized than ever, making every minute of students’ time in the classroom valuable.
Teacher Professional Development
Teacher Professional Development has improved with the increase of technology in the classroom. Educators now have resources, materials, and ideas at their fingertips. Websites such as Teachers Pay Teachers provide educators with resources, knowledge, and inspiration. Teacher blogs are another popular stopping place for educators who need lesson planning ideas, behavior management plans, or organization tips. Along with having quicker access to resources, technology has made it more convenient for teachers to enroll in online classes. This helps educators who are working towards credits for licensing renewal or furthering their knowledge on a particular topic. Technology has not only changed the way teachers teach, but the way teachers learn.
Technology has improved many aspects of the classroom. Students are able to ask and answer questions more easily than ever. Learning models are changing, shifting to student-lead and project-based learning that is personalized and meaningful. The grading process is easier than ever, and professional development is only a click away. Knowing how quickly technology changes and evolves, one can only expect all these technological improvements to continue redefining the classroom experience for both students and educators.