New technologies have always played a role in the development and implementation of various educational strategies throughout history; recent developments in response to the challenges of the pandemic have taken this up a notch. These days, many educational administrators are turning to educational technology (EdTech) to facilitate learning, improve student engagement, and maintain the high academic standards their institutions are known for.
What is educational technology?
Educational technology is a field of education that deals with the use of technology in the classroom. It encompasses tools used in the digital classroom, which have grown in prevalence due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. These tools allow teachers to conduct classes and students to fulfill curricular requirements remotely over the internet.
What are the types of classroom technologies?
There are several different types of classroom technologies, all of which play an important role in the overall digital classroom environment. Below are the key types:
- Learning management systems (LMS) allow teachers and administrators to manage courses, assign tasks and assessments to students, and track student progress. Some examples of LMS are Canvas, Moodle, and Blackboard.
- Digital courseware are learning resources typically produced by reputable educational publishers like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Macmillan. These eBook versions of academic textbooks are a common version of digital courseware.
- Classroom response systems are tools that enable students to participate in lessons via polls or discussion boards. Some examples are iClicker and Poll Everywhere.
- Virtual classroom tools empower educators to host synchronous online lectures and let students engage via active discussion and even through breakout rooms. These tools can also record the live lecture to provide lecture videos that can be used for future reference. Some examples are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
- Remote proctoring software helps maintain academic integrity by flagging behaviors that may indicate attempts to cheat during exams, as well as by providing monitoring and oversight during exams. Some examples are Proctorio and Honorlock.
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What are the benefits of using educational technologies for student engagement?
One of the biggest challenges of remote learning is engaging students in an organic and efficient manner. Failing to engage them leads to poor deployment of learning content, and as a consequence, ineffective educational instruction. EdTech tools are designed to overcome these issues, leading to the following benefits:
- Total classroom participation
Teachers can take advantage of remote learning arrangements to empower students — especially those who may be too timid to speak up in public — to participate in classes. Current EdTech systems feature powerful moderation and virtual classroom management tools that allow students to voice their opinions, observations, and other relevant classroom feedback on a safe, empowering platform.
- Instant feedback on pedagogy
Exploring pedagogies is a luxury most schools don’t have, as it takes time and expertise to do so. However, having that option will let school administrators see which teaching methods, styles, and strategies suit their students best. On EdTech systems, your school can explore pedagogies and see in real time which methods work well with the infrastructure, faculty, and the students. This will help school leaders make quicker and more decisive decisions about teaching methods that engage students the most.
- Endless resources
EdTech systems can facilitate access to digital academic databases like JSTOR, EBSCO, or GALE seamlessly. Students will have easy access to virtually any resource they may need for the classes, homework, theses, and more.
- Simplified collaboration and engagement outside class
Students used to have to meet up in order to collaborate on group projects and presentations. But with tools like Google Slides, students could simply create a blank presentation and share access to the file to start collaborating digitally. It’s a great way to save time and effort, particularly for students who have varying schedules or don’t live near one another.
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What are the possible drawbacks of using EdTech for student engagement?
While the tangible benefits of EdTech are evident, it’s still only as good as its users’ capabilities. Here are some potential drawbacks of using technology in the classroom:
- Technology can be a distraction
Technology can be used to get a wealth of information within one’s reach in a matter of seconds, but it can also cause distractions. Students can find virtually any kind of content they wish to digest online, so you should configure your EdTech system to limit access to non-schoolwork-related content during class hours. This can be done using web limiters and by setting certain firewall controls.
- Students may feel disconnected
A purely digital environment may not be good for either students or teachers. Humans are social creatures, and online-only interactions may leave many feeling disconnected and “Zoom-fatigued.” Combat this by encouraging physical interactions and meetups every now and then. Many schools are also adopting blended learning arrangements, which are a combination of face-to-face learning and distance learning that aims to leverage the best of both setups.
- Cheating in exams can become easy
Tech-savvy students may get tempted to conduct less-than-honorable ways of answering exams and assessments in a digital learning environment. Discourage this by making exams that focus on problem solving instead of memorization of concepts. This way, students are free to consult resources they may need to answer correctly. Also, use software like TurnItIn to keep student submissions plagiarism-free.
Catch the second part of this EdTech discussion in the coming week. We will be tackling the pros and cons of EdTech in terms of classroom flexibility and educational design.
Reach out to Online Computers for any EdTech deployment needs. We’ll provide you with a thorough assessment and software recommendations to meet your requirements. Contact us today to learn more.