Edtech is the practice of introducing IT tools into the classroom to create a more engaging, inclusive and individualized learning experience.
Educational technology is a term used to describe a wide array of teaching-and-learning–related software and hardware that’s increasingly being used in college and university classrooms.
Today’s classrooms have moved beyond the clunky desktop computers that were once the norm and are now tech-infused with tablets, interactive online courses and even robots that can take notes and record lectures for students who are ill.
Teaching isn’t an easy job, and recent changes in education and society aren’t making it any easier. A generation ago, if you made sure to cover your curriculum according to pacing guides and best practices, you were doing a satisfactory job. But as students’ needs and society’s expectations have risen, so have the demands placed on teachers’ shoulders.
HOW EDTECH AFFECTS TEACHING PRACTICES?
You may not have thought about it in those terms before—that edtech assists teachers in basically two ways, by enhancing what they do now, and by expanding what they’re able to do.
First, technology enhances teachers’ current practices by increasing their instructional value or making them work more smoothly. For example, projector slides can enhance your lessons with audiovisual elements such as diagrams, photos, and videos. Sites like Google, Teachers Pay Teachers, and IBM Teacher Advisor can help you enhance your lessons with materials and learning activities that are more engaging, pedagogically sound, or aligned with standards and student needs. Educational YouTube videos can enhance the edutainment in your classroom. Google Classroom can enhance your workflow by helping you bypass the copy room.
These technologies don’t fundamentally change the way you teach, but they can enhance your current practices by improving their instructional value or making them work more efficiently for you and for your students.
Second, technology can expand teachers’ capacity to implement new practices that would otherwise be challenging to adopt and maintain. Human history is in part a story of new technologies that make new practices possible. From the wheel to the steam engine to the supercomputer, these technologies expand how people produce the goods of life. Food, clothing, housing, energy, and entertainment are all far more affordable and accessible than they were just a few generations ago because technology has steadily pushed out the frontier of human productivity.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways EdTech benefits both teachers and students.
- Increased student engagement
When students get to use technology, they’re automatically more engaged. Kids love technology, and incorporating it into lessons gets students excited about learning. Adding technology to existing lesson plans can boost student engagement without requiring teachers to do a lot of extra work.
- More collaboration
Technology makes it easier for students to collaborate with one another. Students can work on projects together, communicate effortlessly at home or in the classroom, and share their work online.
- Improve digital literacy
Digital literacy is a fundamental skill for students in the 21st century. Knowing how to use technology and the internet will be required in almost every job that students might have in the future. By incorporating EdTech into the classroom, teachers can help students improve their digital literacy.
- Automate grading
In the past, teachers have spent hours after school and on weekends grading papers. There are tons of EdTech tools that can cut down on this time, automating grading and making measuring student progress simple.
- Get student data
EdTech can also make measuring student progress through data much easier. Many programs can automatically give teachers data on students, quickly and easily showing what skills students have mastered and what they need to work on.
- Stay in touch 24/7
With technology and the internet, students and teachers can stay in touch all the time. There are a variety of apps that allow students to communicate with teachers (without teachers giving out their personal email or phone number). Students can get homework help and teachers can send important reminders.
- Keep up with classroom management
There are lots of EdTech tools designed to help teachers with classroom management. Teachers can keep track of student behaviors and keep parents informed using technology.
- Flip the classroom
The flipped classroom, where students learn through reading or lecture videos at home then do projects or discuss what they learned in the classroom, is only possible through EdTech. This innovative new way of teaching and learning is taking the world of education by storm.
- Have more fun
EdTech can make learning more fun. There are tons of educational games and apps that get students excited and turn learning into a game instead of a chore.
- Get creative
With EdTech tools, students can do more creative work. Students can create online presentations and digital art to showcase what they’ve learned.
- Go paperless
Going paperless is a popular way for schools to save money (and reduce their carbon footprint). By putting more materials online and utilizing technology, teachers can cut back on the number of copies they make and save paper.
- Publish and present student work
Instead of creating a presentation that no one outside the classroom will see, students can use the internet to publish their work for the entire world to see.
- Do more research
Learning how to do research is an important skill that teachers have always taught. EdTech just makes it easier. Students can complete research projects without spending hours in the library and can even continue their research at home.
- Learn to code
Computer programming is an increasingly in-demand skill. There are a variety of tools for teaching students how to code, even in elementary school.
- Teachers save time
Before the rise of EdTech, teachers spent long hours creating lesson plans and grading papers. With technology and the internet, teachers can find lesson plans and free materials online. Plus, apps and programs designed to grade student work can save even more time.
- Raise test scores
EdTech can help improve student achievement and raise test scores. Tools that help with test prep and measure students’ progress can help teachers bring up scores.
- Bring the classroom home
With EdTech, learning doesn’t have to stop when students go home. Students can continue their learning at home using the internet.
- Find free materials
Teachers don’t have to pay for workbooks anymore. There are tons of free materials online that can help busy teachers throw together lesson plans in minutes.
- Turn review into a game
There are tons of apps available that turn review activities or test prep into fun games for students. This can make otherwise boring review fun and exciting.
- Personalize learning for every student
EdTech helps teachers differentiate learning. Students can each work on something different on their individual devices, with each student focusing on their own areas of weakness.
- Include ELLs
Technology can help English Language Learners feel included in the classroom. The internet makes translating materials easier than ever, allowing beginning English learners to participate in activities that would otherwise be too difficult.
- Stop buying expensive textbooks
Thanks to the internet, schools no longer have to spend money each year on new textbooks. Information is readily available online, and it’s more up-to-date than with old print books.
- Provide remediation
There are lots of resources available to help remediate students using EdTech. Students who are below grade-level can use EdTech tools to get caught up.
- Provide acceleration
EdTech isn’t just for remediation—it can also be used for acceleration. Students who are bored with the material the rest of the class is working on can complete additional projects and accelerate their learning using EdTech.
- Bring your classroom into the 21st century
It just makes sense to incorporate more EdTech into the classroom. Teachers are responsible for preparing students for a 21st century world, and exposing them to technology is a part of that.
What other benefits does EdTech have for students and teachers? Tell us how you’ve seen EdTech benefit classrooms.