10 Productivity Tools for Educators That Give You Back Your Time
Educators have more to do than ever before. With increasing demands for paperwork, testing, curriculum implementation, and more, it's crucial to use your time wisely. According to The Global State of Digital Learning in K-12 Education, lack of time is the most common obstacle to effective teaching and learning. When instructors don't have the time they need to do their jobs well, students suffer.
Clearly, maximizing time and productivity is critical. Fortunately, there are many tools to help you get organized and make the most of your time so you can focus your precious minutes doing what you consider most important—and doing it well.
Productivity Tools for Instruction
With hours of lesson planning and paper grading in your future, it's important to stay focused on the tasks at hand. Increased productivity on the "nuts and bolts" aspects of teaching will allow you to spend more time on working with students and considering new ways to improve your practice instead of being buried in busywork.
Try these useful tools to save time on daily classroom tasks:
- Nearpod—Nearpod lets instructors create interactive quizzes, polls, and presentations to keep students engaged. You can save time by gathering formative assessment data in real time and monitor student progress as it happens. For example, offer a poll question as an interactive exit ticket and use the information to plan the next day's lesson to address gaps in understanding.
See Schoology's Nearpod App >>
- Google Docs—Google Docs isn't just a great word processing program for your personal life. When you have students create essays using this cloud-based platform, you can edit the pages online whenever you like. Students will receive your feedback immediately, right on the page, and you can access your work anywhere you go, without lugging around a heavy bag of hard copies.
See Schoology's Google Drive Assignments App >>
- Kahoot—Kahoot lets instructors access or create original games for students to practice their skills in a fun way. You can track progress by comparing current and past scores, and students can play from any device.
- OpenEd—OpenEd is an online catalog of videos, games, and assessments that you can use instead of designing your own. Each item is sorted by learning standard, and you can even get recommendations for targeted practice materials based on assessment results.
See Schoology's OpenEd App >>
- ClassDojo—ClassDojo lets you track student behavior and award points to individual students in real time, without having to interrupt the lesson to offer feedback. Students will see their behavior points on an individual app in real time so they know exactly where they stand.
Productivity Tools for Planning and Organization
Staying organized is one of the best ways to keep your workflow moving. Put an end to wasted time by having all your materials ready to go with these organizational helpers:
- Trello—Trello is software for group projects like team teaching, curriculum design, and more. You create a board that allows you to break down tasks into pieces, keep track of goals and deadlines, and invite all team members to add to the project. It's like a project management white board that fits in your phone.
See Schoology's Trello App >>
- Wunderlist—Wunderlist is a task manager that lets you keep all your to-do lists in one place, so you'll never lose your train of thought for planning. Best of all, you can share lists with co-teachers and colleagues on your team to streamline group planning.
- Google Keep—Google Keep is like a virtual version of your sticky note pad connected to your Google Drive. You can jot notes to yourself and organize them with labels or color coding. You can also add checkboxes for a to-do list, save images, and share your notes with others to make collaboration easier.
- Acclaim—Acclaim makes it easy to create, organize, share, review, and discuss video content. This tool comes with an interface that enables you to watch a video and leave comments for peers that are time-stamped based on where you are in the video.
See Schoology's Acclaim App >>
A Productivity Tool for the Entire Educational Process
While each of the tools above can be helpful for specific aspects of the educational process, our tenth productivity tool is one that can help you be productive in all aspects of your process. This tool is the learning management system, or LMS.
This comprehensive educational tool, if designed well and used effectively, can help you increase productivity in instruction, organization and planning, collaboration with peers, creating instructional content and assessment creation, et al. It can be the digital ecosystem in which all your courses, content, and connections live.
Plus, many of the tools listed above integrate with these learning platforms. This means your LMS can be the educational hub, so no one has to juggle multiple tools. It also means you can use the tools above alongside the LMS's core functionality, so everything lives in one place and, in some cases, even "talks" to each other—e.g., grades pass from an app directly into your gradebook.
Given all this, it's important to take a step back and look at the big picture. While picking up one new productivity tool can help you be more efficient and save time, it's not the case that picking up 10 different tools increase those benefits 10 fold. Quantity does not equal quality.
Whether you're using a handful of edtech tools or you're looking for your first, it's worth thinking about your daily tasks as all connected in the same workflow, instead of isolated responsibilities. From that vantage point, a comprehensive tool such as an LMS may increase your productivity more than any other.
Do you have a favorite productivity tool? Share yours in the comments below.