The term “education technology” (or “edtech,” as it’s commonly known) refers to more than just learning via computer. Edtech has existed in various forms for as long as education itself has been around. At the beginning of the 20th century, the pencil was an important technological development for classrooms around the world, and not so long ago, whiteboards and computer carts were also innovative. Now, almost 20 years into the 21st century, edtech is synonymous with 3D printers, robots, and students working on laptops and even cell phones. But with constant advances and so many products and providers to choose from, it can be difficult to stay on top of the many ways to use edtech.
There are a lot of great technology-based resources that benefit students and can help to solve many common problems, and incorporating them into your school or district can be done quite easily.
Here are a few of the many ways to use edtech:
1. Conquering Teacher Shortage and Limited Course Offerings.
Finding qualified teachers can be a challenge, especially at this point in the year, but that doesn’t have to stop you from offering your students classes that they’re interested in taking. Incorporating virtual instruction can help to create new learning opportunities for students, and can be particularly good for increasing your elective, world language, dual-credit, and AP® course offerings. Some schools and districts use virtual instruction to create their own virtual school or program, which is helpful in finding qualified teachers for important classes and retaining enrollments of students who are physically unable to come to school.
2. Serving Students with Unique Needs.
One of the great benefits of edtech is that it can be implemented and customized in so many different ways to meet student needs without increasing the teacher’s workload. Offering NCAA-approved courses is a great way to support your student athletes and ensure they’re getting a high-quality education that offers them the flexibility they need to complete their coursework while pursuing their athletic dreams. Establishing an alternative education program can help at-risk, overage, and adult students earn their GED or diploma when the traditional school setting just doesn’t work for them.
And for students who need specialized accommodations, like those on IEPs and 504 plans, course customizations, embedded learning tools and scaffolds, and a team of support people can offer students everything they need to be successful.
3. Preparing for Standardized Testing.
With how important performance on standardized tests is for students, teachers, schools, and districts, it’s critical that we’re equipping students to succeed on these tests. And that doesn’t just mean knowing the material that’ll be covered. With more and more tests taken on computers, it’s important that students know both how to use the technology and the question types they’ll encounter. Digital test readiness solutions can give students the instruction and practice they need to master skills and topics they’ll be tested on, as well as experience with technology-enhanced items. And the data they collect can help you to quickly and easily monitor student progress and step in to provide one-on-one or small-group instruction when needed.
4. Providing Intervention and Supplemental Learning.
Sometimes, students require extra instruction and practice, but it’s not always easy to find the time for this. Many supplemental learning solutions can be used all throughout the year, giving students easy access to curriculum and instruction whenever they need it. This can be particularly helpful during breaks from school, or even on evenings or weekends when students need a bit of extra practice.
For students who need more help, online intervention programs can be great resources. And many of these programs collect data as students complete activities and work within them, enabling teachers to monitor student work and provide extra help whenever it’s needed.
Increase Learning Opportunities
The possibilities of technology are endless. As author Arthur C. Clarke said:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic,” and anyone who’s used any new technology in recent years knows there’s truth to that.
Incorporating technology into the classroom can open doors that seasoned educators never thought possible, like using a vacuum to teach responsibility and empathy. Having resources that solve common problems while lifting some of the burden off teachers and administrators can be freeing, and help to both strengthen the teacher–student relationship and improve the educational experience. Knowing what tools and solutions exist—and the ways to use edtech to meet your specific needs—is key to building a classroom, school, and district that supports everyone within it.