EdTech: Tools to Increase Productivity

Kelly Nelson-Danley & Michelle Bouslog
Kelly Nelson-Danley & Michelle Bouslog
Kelly Nelson-Danley - Elementary school principal; Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction/Michelle Bouslog - EdTech teacher; M.A.Ed. in EdTech, Concordia University St. Paul, MN
An older professional does work, looking at a piece of paper and working on a laptop.

Professional Development and Outside of the Classroom

Teachers have so much on their plates these days! Classroom management, lesson plans, collaborating with others, participating in professional development, conferencing with parents, and attending staff meetings are only a few tasks that teachers must keep up with. When it comes to balancing all of the requirements and responsibilities they face, teachers need access to tools that can assist them with increasing productivity.

So, how do teachers access these EdTech tools, and which tools are the best? The following are useful tools to aid teachers in accomplishing what they need to achieve outside of the classroom. Everyday new education technology tools and websites are coming out to help teachers out with getting things done both outside and inside of the classroom. By utilizing these tools, educators can take back their personal time and spend it more with family and friends or doing what they enjoy doing in their free time.

Here are a few tools to help teachers become more productive, increase collaboration, and afford teachers more free time. These tools specifically help teachers with managing tasks outside of the classroom.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a go-to tool that teachers can use for multiple purposes. Google Docs can help educators cut down on paper use and make designing and sharing assignments and assessments easier for themselves. Google Docs is free and can house documents that are created via Google Docs or upload already existing documents.

RescueTime

Rescue Time is an online tool that assists teachers in tracking their time. This tool allows users to create timers and receive alerts when tasks are due or upcoming.

nTask

One productivity tool that can help teachers working on projects is nTask. NTask is an app that can help professionals get started on tasks and share task lists with others in order to increase productivity and collaboration.

Acquiring a Virtual Assistant

When we think of virtual assistants, we often assume assistants of this form are only available in the business world. However, teachers can also acquire a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is an online tool that aids teachers in completing tasks from a remote location.

Typically, sites such as Zirtual.com will provide teachers with an assistant that will complete any needed tasks that can be done outside of the classroom. Such tasks could include editing presentations, grading assignments, or setting up parent conferences. Most virtual assistant tools do cost teachers a fee; however, teachers may find that some programs for virtual assistants offer free trials or educator discounts.

EdTech and In the Classroom

Teachers need tools to help with their productivity outside of the classroom, but just as importantly, they need tools that help with their productivity inside the classroom. Managing a class is a juggling act, but some tools help make the days more manageable. Below are a few ideas to help teachers be productive in their day-to-day teachings by using technology in the classroom.

Forest

Have trouble staying focused on the target goal during instruction and often find yourself getting off topic? Forest may be able to help with that. This app has a simple concept but one that can visually help keep your teaching on track. The concept is simple, choose a tree and when you begin your instruction, hit “Grow.” The seedling will fully bloom after 25 minutes. Finish your lesson sooner than that? Maybe the class can earn a game or extra recess.

Or, on the contrary, does the class get off topic and you aren’t done instructing within the 25-minute time frame? Set up a consequence like taking away free time so you can finish your lesson. This app can also be used with students, as the tree will stop growing (and die) if the students leave the app and get onto another program.

EDpuzzle

EDpuzzle is another great EdTech tool to help increase teachers productivity inside the classroom workday. This app lets teachers take a video from the internet and customize it to meet their lesson’s goals. If this wasn’t already fantastic enough to weed out the fluff and keep to the learning goals, EDpuzzle makes it so that teachers can insert questions throughout the video. Students have to pause to answer the questions and cannot skip them. The app tracks how long students spend on a clip so that teachers know that students watched the video in its entirety.

Teachers can also voice-over parts of the video (in case something wasn’t as clear as they would like). By editing videos, inserting questions, and voice-over, teachers save time in clarification and creating a student check-in or quiz on another platform. EDpuzzle is a one-stop shop.

Class Dojo

Class Dojo has been around for some time now but is still good for helping teachers manage student behavior. Behavior can be one of the most time-consuming obstacles educators face. Class Dojo allows teachers to manage behavior (earning positive points and subtracting points), organize the behavior (think-graphs and record keeping), and easily connect with parents to keep them informed on day-to-day happenings.

Teachers can stay productive by using real time rewards and quickly messaging parents when behaviors arise. Students enjoy seeing their avatar displayed, and the educational videos found on the website are quick way teachers can teach about good behavior.

Classroom Q

It can be overwhelming and hard to stay equitable when it comes to keeping track of which students need help in the classroom. ClassroomQ helps to organize this feat. How it works is that teachers create a class that students can join using the determined code. When a student needs help, they click on the red “Assistance Needed” button. This button tells the student they are in line and how many others are in front of them. Teachers can organize students’ questions in the order they were asked. This app helps teachers stay productive in answering questions as they no longer have to keep track of who raised their hands first.

Edmodo

Looking for a way to share content with students, administer quizzes, give out assignments, and communicate with students, colleagues, and parents all in the same place? Enter Edmodo. Edmodo makes it so that teachers can organize their lessons and distribute them to students on the same platform. It also is a place where teachers can share content with other teachers.

Using the “Discover” tab, teachers can search for lessons already created to don’t have to reinvent the wheel. In addition to easily made lessons, teachers can directly message students or parents, giving real time feedback and keeping parents in the loop. Edmodo is an excellent resource for in-person learning and would be a seamless transition to at-home learning as well.

It can be hard for educators to stay productive while creating lessons, managing behavior, providing feedback to students, keeping parents in the loop, and completing professional development. However, many EdTech tools help teachers stay productive during the school day and outside the regular school hours. With the help of technology, teachers can focus on what needs to get done and still find time to relax and recharge when the workday is over.

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