5 Simple Reasons for Introducing Digital Learning in the Classroom
Time is the one fleeting tool in a teacher's toolbox that they never seem to have enough of. Between PD, snow days, student absences, assemblies, mandatory state/benchmark assessments, and holidays, time feels like a liability in the classroom, and one that slips quickly from day to day. Incorporating more technology into the classroom is certainly a great initiative, but finding the space either during or after the school day to learn, plan, and incorporate this technology can feel overwhelming.
According to the 2018-2019 Global State of Digital Learning Report, more than 34% of teachers consider integrating new edtech tools a top priority for the school year. Even with this amount of focus, this number of teachers who actually achieve this goal is far fewer. Where is the disconnect? Here, we'll examine 5 simple tools for teachers who are looking to incorporate digital learning in the classroom, but aren't sure where to begin.
1. Learning Management Systems Promote Teacher Collaboration
When you're trying to utilize every minute you can for student engagement, assessment, and learning, along with additional school duties, parent contact, and student discipline, it can feel like you've never actually left your hallway, let alone your room. Peer collaboration can be difficult because of the various demands placed upon your day, but edtech tools can provide a quick and easy solution.
Schools that use learning management systems have a ready-made platform for teachers to share ideas and documents. Since you're likely to have your phone or laptop with you at all times during the school day, you're provided with instant access to the tremendous work your colleagues produce in their classrooms.
Looking for a great formative assessment, engagement strategy, or closing activity? Post a question or concern on the LMS' discussion board and see what your fellow educators can offer. Since it is a platform that all teachers access on an almost daily basis, the opportunity for collaboration is convenient. An LMS can allow staff to work smarter, not harder, by quickly sharing resources and documents through a system that all teachers access on a daily basis.
2. Digital Tools Can Help Students Build Confidence
According to a 2014 study, 74% of faculty at higher learning institutions say that "the LMS is a very useful tool to enhance learning." How does a LMS facilitate student engagement? It provides a voice for every student, even those who may quietly remain passive bystanders in the classroom. Educators can use the various tools an LMS offers to facilitate classroom conversations, where each student has a chance to answer questions at their own pace.
One of the reasons why many students don't raise their hand in class? They need more time to process their response, and many teachers, even seasoned vets, tend to ignore wait time and call on the first hand they see to keep the class moving. Allowing students a chance to think about a question, and have time to properly craft a response, lets educators "hear" every voice in their classroom.
3. Digital Tools Let Students Self-Monitor Progress
Student buy-in is critical in the classroom—if children don't feel connected to the material or the education process, they will "check out." This can defeat even the most well-prepared and thoughtful lesson within minutes. Edtech tools that use an online platform allow students to practice and self-monitor progress individually, with the program often tabulating areas of weakness and then showing students words, terms, or concepts that they have not mastered. When a student feels like they have control over their classroom progress, they are building connections to the material and gaining confidence in their skills.
4. Student Creativity Can Run Wild
Digital tools are not just flashy adornments to your curriculum—they can be valuable additions that provide students with unique options to express their creativity. For example, classes that are looking to target writing skills might have students create a podcast for which they would have to write a script and conduct research about an assigned topic. Or, have students present a project using an animated platform such as Powtoon, which requires students to plan, organize, and input their findings into fun, animated templates. Before you know it, students have researched, written, utilized technology, collaborated, and presented their knowledge using digital tools—without realizing exactly how much focused academic work they've just put forth!
5. Edtech Tools Can Cut Down on Grading Time
A lot of educators spend nights and weekends not only going over lesson plans, but also reviewing and grading student work. Providing timely, valuable feedback to students is an important part of the learning cycle, and one that takes up a great deal of time. Learning management systems can provide a platform for educators to directly respond to students through a discussion board, or effectively grade writing by using a template or rubric that is connected to their grade book.
While the initial setup of some of these items may seem daunting, connect with your school's technology integration specialist, or a colleague who is already using these methods, to see how much time can be saved during the grading process.
Edtech tools don't need to revolutionize your classroom—instead they can be used to make your daily life as an educator a little easier, and student learning more meaningful and relevant.
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