As the pandemic begins to wane and more people get vaccinated, many schools across the US and Canada are returning to partial or full in-person instruction.
While some educators and students are looking forward to in-person learning, many are reflecting on lessons learned. And if there is one thing schools have learned in the last year, it’s how to overcome the challenges of integrating technology into the classroom.
The initial switch to virtual learning in 2020 prompted schools to quickly upgrade or add new technology into their curriculum and instruction. As we prepare for a strong end to this school year and plan for the next school year, it’s worth pausing to re-think what new technology from remote learning should we keep and which we should leave behind.
The use of technology in the classroom should make teachers’ and students' lives easier, create efficiencies, and empower students. But like learning anything new, there is a learning curve so schools and educators need to be selective about which technologies are worth the additional effort.
There are many benefits of technology in the classroom like promoting student creativity, problem-solving, and engagement. While looking ahead to the next school year and evaluating your tech, here are some of our favorite ways to use technology in teaching to empower student learning.
Students love to play games. But while Fortnite and Minecraft may immediately spring to mind, there are many educational games out there that can help your students learn, while also having tons of fun. Gamification is a great way to incorporate technology in the classroom since it’s not only enjoyable but also beneficial for learning and student engagement.
Our Unruly Splats program combines learning to code with physically active play. Because Unruly Splats technology is adaptable to all kinds of different games, educators can use it across their curriculum from STEM subjects to PE, Music, and Art! For example, a first-grade teacher from Hawaii, Melanie Zukeran, plays Unruly Four Splats to keep student engagement high while they practice math problems.
“When their Splat turns off they have to spell a word, do some jumping jacks, or solve a math problem so we incorporate all the curriculum areas,” Melanie said.
There is nothing like traveling for hands-on education and discovery! Technology in teaching allows for virtual trips so students can discover new places without even leaving the classroom. Especially as travel and in-person interactions are still limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, incorporating virtual exploration into your curriculum can allow students to learn and explore from the safety of their classroom. Games like Geoguessr combine virtual travel with problem-solving skills.
This technology would pair nicely with lessons in geography or history. Use technology to guide your students through a virtual tour of a unique geological formation, or explore the site of a famous battle or episode in world history. Students who are visual or spatial learners will especially benefit from these exercises!
One of the best things about technology in teaching is how it allows us to be in touch with people who live halfway across the world. You can use technology in the classroom to connect your students to a sister classroom in another city, or to help them find pen pals to correspond with. This can help students improve their cross-cultural communication skills and grow empathy.
You don’t have to limit your community building activities to connecting your students with those who are physically distant. Technology can also empower local communities. For example, you could invite your students to research a cause that is important to them, and then help them use technology to organize a virtual fundraiser. Seeing the impact of activism and teamwork early can encourage students to be self-motivated and seek knowledge independently.
District Library Media Specialist and Innovation Director at Van Meter Schools, Shannon Miller, encourages community building through a nationwide project based on the children's story Maybe Something Beautiful. Schools from all over the country had their students create their own mural, cut it up into pieces, and send pieces to the other schools involved. Students could not wait to put together their new mural from the work of their new friends!
There are so many ways to use technology in the classroom to involve students in fun, creative projects! A wide variety of creative programs and tools are available for free or affordably through educator discounts. Students can explore graphic design with free websites like Canva or paid professional tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Video editing software like iMovie, along with the widespread accessibility of video cameras thanks to smartphones, can allow students to film and edit videos.
Students can use these tools to create projects or learn independently. Interactive learning helps students better retain information and engages them in student-led learning, allowing them to explore their creativity and solve problems with technology.
As schools return to more in-person instruction, it’s important that educators consider how they can incorporate technology in the classroom in order to engage students and make learning fun. Technology in teaching opens doors to creativity, problem-solving, and deep learning.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can use Unruly Splats technology in the classroom to teach your students technology skills in a fun, engaging way, click here.