Photo by Aleks Dorohovich
Nowadays the importance of educational technology goes beyond way the use of instructional aids. The ubiquity and usefulness of technology in everyday life means that, now more than ever, there is a need to for learners to be proficient at using technology in order to adapt to this rapidly digitizing world.
Think of technology like a language. Students have to learn how to use technology properly at an early age for them to have the best chance at becoming fluent. Educators and schools are in prime position to teach young learners this new 'language'. To integrate technology fully in their teaching methods, teachers must use it not just as visual aids but also as tools to actively engage their students. This is where Education Technology (or EdTech) comes in.
From interactive whiteboards to educational apps, here are 13 EdTech tools that every teacher and student can use to aid and enhance teaching and learning.
1. Interactive Whiteboard
The interactive whiteboard (IWB) was invented by Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) around 1990 as a tool to be used in the office for round-table discussions and small group meetings. Now the IWB has found its way into many modern classrooms as a powerful tool for enriching lessons and engaging learners.
More than just a glorified projector, IWBs work as standalone computers or as large connectable touch pads to control other computers. They can be used to display images, play multimedia files, make interactive presentations, and manipulate elements on the screen.
Teachers can involve students in the teaching-learning process using an IWB. For example, in a lesson on how to tell time, an IWB can be used as a clock that students can adjust and manipulate to gain an experienced-based understanding of how we measure time. Students then cease to be passive receptors of knowledge and instead become active collaborators who take charge of their own learning.
2. Smart Typewriter
The smart typewriter was developed as a tool for authors, writers, journalists, and other professionals to increase their daily productivity and word count. With its straightforward design and focused functionality, the tool eliminates some distractions that may hamper your writing progress, especially those offered by the internet.
Nonprofessionals, particularly students, can benefit from the use of smart typewriters. More than any age group, the young demographic is more vulnerable to the distractions provided by the internet because many aspects of their lives—entertainment and social life—are centered on it. Students tend to lose focus easily and procrastinate when working on school activities because other, more entertaining things are just a few clicks away.
Using a portable smart typewriter can address this problem. The tool was made for one function, and that’s writing. It can connect to the internet, but there’s no browser, and the screen is grayscale.
This typewriter only connects to Wi-Fi to save files in a cloud drive. Files are saved to the smart typewriter’s internal memory when there’s no Wi-Fi and automatically backed up in a cloud drive when it connects again.
Students can take the device wherever they work best. They can even do their homework outdoors since the smart typewriter is equipped with a long battery life and electronic paper screen.
The Smart Typewriter is a great way to avoid procrastination pitfalls. That said, sometimes procrastination is an inevitability. Check out these tips for procrastinating with purpose so you can pass them on to your students!
Teaching and Learning Apps
There are many educational apps out there created to enhance teaching and learning. Here are some of the most useful tools for knowledge sharing, instruction, collaboration, practice, productivity, and assessment that you and your students can use.
Learning to write well is so important. Whilst fewer of us are putting actual pens to actual paper these days, most of us are writing articles, emails, essays, texts, Tweets, presentations and a whole heap of other content online every day. Writing is how we communicate and express ourselves, and practice makes - well, if not perfect, then definitely better!
Writing reports, book reviews, essays and projects are commonplace in school, and they're all increasingly moving online. ProWritingAid is a tool that helps students upgrade the quality of their writing assignments and keep learning while they edit. The app is a grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. Let's look at how it teaches your students while they work.
Many students write in the passive voice. It can make their arguments lack drive and agency, and it's something we pull up often as teachers and instructors. ProWritingAid highlights passive voice as part of its Style Report. As you can see in the screenshot below, students are given suggestions for how to make their writing active, a detailed description of what passive voice is, an informational video and a link to more passive voice instruction:
Like the ProWritingAid description says, passive voice isn't always wrong. Students can choose to 'Ignore' and move on to the next correction. This makes them more discerning writers, encouraging them to think about the language choices they make when they write.
For teachers, ProWritingAid works as a way of improving students' writing without doing the work for them or stopping them from learning. It's also a great way to improve your own writing! You can find out more about ProWritingAid for education and give the editing tool a try here.
Create customized illustrations, icons, and visuals with a few drags of your mouse with AutoDraw. This application uses artificial intelligence to guess what you’re trying to draw and complete your illustration for you. You can save and download your work as a PNG file. It recognised my (questionable) drawing of a book and gave me a series of options across the top bar:
Teachers can use the app to create visual representations and guides to illustrate concepts, engage learners, and aid learning. Students can also use this tool to practice their creativity and imagination and create visuals to enhance presentations.
5. Book Creator
Use Book Creator to make, publish, and share your own book, complete with texts, images, audios, and videos. With this application, teachers and students can create interactive stories, instructional manuals, research journals, and multimedia-assisted reports.
Here’s a tool that teachers and students can use to create presentations that actively engage learners. Creaza allows users to make mind maps, diagrams, and cartoons, as well as add images, audios, and videos in their presentation.
Edmodo has “the largest global teacher network.” It’s a place akin to a digital classroom, where teachers, students, and even parents can get involved in education. In Edmodo, users can find thousands of teacher resources—from articles to videos vetted by other teachers—and share their own with rest of the world.
Teachers can set up groups with students and their parents and share valuable educational resources, assign homeworks, schedule quizzes, and report learning progress. Edmodo is an amazing tool to involve all important parties in a child’s learning and education.
This tool is platform where teachers, students, and users discuss different topics through a short video. You create a “Grid” (a group or classroom) where you pose topics and questions and start the dialogue.
FlipGrid videos can be created using many devices, including iPhones, Android phones, tablets, laptops, and computers. It also has different filters and layouts that users can use to make creative videos. FlipGrid connects teachers and learners and changes how they teach, learn, and interact.
Formative is a great tool for individualized and real-time feedbacking between teacher and student. Teachers can create “formatives” (e.g., lessons, exercises, and assessments) and share them with students.
They can add questions and activities to engage students and assess their learning. Teachers can jump in and provide real-time help when a student is having a hard time answering a question or doing an activity.
Formative also provides a visual tool to track student progress, so it’s easy for teachers to see those who are struggling and doing well and facilitate immediate feedback.
Created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Illuminations is a place where teachers can find lesson plans, classroom activities, and other resources that will enhance the teaching-learning process, all in line with common core standards.
Teachers can find brain teasers, games, interactive exercises, and mobile-friendly downloads to make learning math easier and more enjoyable.
Newseumed makes available numerous learning tools, including articles, videos, and activities, to broaden their knowledge about history, current events, and relevant issues. And they’re all free.
Teachers, especially those teaching history and social studies, will find many valuable lesson plans, activities, topics, tips, and hacks to enrich their teaching practice and student learning.
Quizalize offers a fun and collaborative way to assess learning. This app allows teachers to create quizzes for students to test their subject knowledge. Teachers can also add images and equations to make more varied questions, put explanations, categorize questions under subtopics, and set a time limit for quizzes.
Quizalize also has a tool for teachers to keep track of students’ results so they can provide immediate feedback.
Students can answer the quizzes individually or form teams and compete against one another. The app has over 20,000 premade quizzes that users can answer for practice or for fun.
13. Write About
Write About offers ways for learners to practice their writing skills by providing prompts and activities. Students can write about given topics, practice free and creative writing, start a journal, and make write-ups.
Teachers can assign customized writing assignments, with model answers and recorded audio instructions. Write About allows teachers to check and edit their students’ write-ups and provide individualized feedback to improve their students’ writing.
Technology is already part of people’s lives. A lot of jobs and processes are made faster and easier by computers and the internet. In the future, every aspect of life will rely more on modern technology. That is why there is an urgent need for every generation, especially the new, to be highly literate in using technology.
Educational institutions are responsible for teaching learners how to adapt to the rapid global digitalization. Educators have the greatest duty to make technology part of their lessons and teaching practice. Students are also responsible for independently seeking learning and practice using technology.
What’s your favorite learning app? Let us know in the comments!