Using tech in the classroom

Using Tech in the Classroom Wisely

Technology has revolutionized the way we educate our children. Images, virtual field trips, lab experiments, and other rich media are some of the countless ways technology creates an enriched learning environment.

However, some argue educators shouldn’t use technology in the classroom because it means more screen time, distractions, and less face-to-face interaction, while others see technology’s potential for personalized educational experiences and collaboration.

But, there is a middle ground: using technology in the classroom wisely.

As a school leader, you can set the standard by having teachers use technology in ways that improve–and don’t detract from–student learning.

Providing Flexibility

If the recent pandemic taught us anything, it’s that educators need the flexibility to adapt to a fast-changing environment. Online learning tools give teachers the freedom to interact with their students anytime, anywhere. Here are four examples:

  1. The cloud. Cloud-based systems let teachers and students communicate back and forth and go over assignments in real time. For group assignments, students can easily share documents, images, and videos without having to email back and forth.
  2. Online assessments. Top learning management systems have pre-written exams teachers can customize and provide analytical tools that show student progress. These online assessment tools give teachers the power to assign tests, create reports, and see where students are struggling.
  3. Flipped learning. Technology lets your teachers try a flipped classroom model where students review online materials at home, strengthen their knowledge through in-class activities, then receive feedback through online post-class assignments. This model lets students work at their own pace and take responsibility for their learning, reports Harvard University.
  4. Distance learning. Even if your students meet in-person, they can still benefit from online learning. If they miss class because of a snow day or medical emergency, having an online learning platform with the same curriculum, exams, and assignments used in class ensures they stay on track.

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Cutting Expenses

Technology helps cut expenses so you can spend more federal funds on what your district needs most.

Saving on print. According to Adobe, digital document solutions will save you up to $6 per document in paper, ink, faxing and mailing costs, and printing equipment, so why not go paperless where possible?

Tech audit. Ed-tech solutions often come with a hefty price tag, and your district may get into the habit of purchasing products that have become obsolete. Consider doing an annual audit to see if you need all the software in your system. Removing unnecessary online tools frees up your district’s budget and increases efficiency.

Reduce the cost of teacher labor. Why have your teachers spend so much time doing manual tasks when technology can do them in seconds? Automating grading and lesson planning saves teachers about 15 hours a week and improves their day-to-day experience. And, it lets you put the cost of teacher labor toward other items in your budget.

cutting expenses

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Kelsey Bell, the author of Shake Up Learning, said, “If you cannot explain how the digital tool enhances or improves the learning experience, you are just using technology for technology’s sake.”

Monitor student progress to see if the online learning tools you provide are actually improving your district’s education. Keep the ones that are working and throw out the ones that aren’t.

It could be you have the right tools but need to set healthy boundaries on how much students can use them.

Consider these strategies:

Student Health. Pediatrician Jennifer F. Cross says too much screen time prevents children from exploring the world around them, which hurts overall development. To protect students’ health, have them use electronics during a certain time of day or on specific days of the week. This way your students benefit from educational technology and develop their cognitive and motor skills.

Read Tips for Prioritizing Student Health During Class to learn why students should have good posture and avoid eye strain.

two happy students

Rules. Even if teachers follow your district’s technology policy, encourage them to create rules specifically for their class based on age group, student behavior, and other factors. Having their own class rules lets teachers make adjustments and involve their students in the rule-making process.

Be consistent. You’ve just learned about new ed-tech software and are anxious to try it out, but remember that students need consistency. Plus, trying something new takes up precious classroom time with setting up, troubleshooting, and other hiccups. Stick to your trusted methods and add new technology now and then to spice things up.

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