The number of classrooms using the latest education technologies is growing. Laptops, tablets, and cellphones are now commonplace on students’ and teachers’ desks, and the number of digital applications running learning-focused programs on these devices has exploded. Roughly 63% of K–12 teachers use technology in their classrooms every day, up from 55% in 2016. Today, 58% of teachers are using educational apps, 41% are using social media, and 21% are running high-tech, 3D printers.1 Students across all learning levels and abilities are using technology to enhance their educational experiences in class and at home.
The COVID-19 pandemic upended global classrooms in early 2020 and forced many schools to move to a distance learning model. The adoption of more technology to keep students and teachers connecting during this crisis was an acceleration of tech trends already in motion: By 2019, billions of dollars had already been spent on updating classrooms with education technology.2
Read on to learn how teaching with technology is transforming education and how today’s teachers can leverage the newest tech to augment classroom outcomes—while avoiding common tech pitfalls.
The New Tech-Connected Classroom
Gone are the classrooms of yesteryear that were crammed with analog books, papers, pens, pencils, projectors, and visited by the occasional TV/VHS player on wheels. The modern classroom that’s keeping pace with learning advancements is powered by unseen Wi-Fi and abuzz with the laptops, cell phones, and smart tablets that are connecting students to teachers and virtual curricula.
Up-to-date classrooms are the go-to places for multi-user tech that’s synchronizing collaborative learning in new ways. Today’s students are working in pairs and in groups through shared devices to complete assignments. And, when they are not working in teams, they are often focused on individually computerized assignments that are a part of a larger shared lesson plan.
Teachers are using large screens for simultaneous viewing and small screen devices to post content to individual students via pre-created lesson plans—boosting collaboration and engagement in new virtual learning environments.
As the devices and ways to share educational material increase in classrooms, so does the amount of digital content being shared and created. There are immediate benefits. The challenging task of creating engaging content is not just falling on already busy teachers. In this new tech-infused environment, teachers and students alike are creating their own educational content and media in the form of videos, animations, storyboards, and more. The sharing of this self-generated content is encouraging students to be learners while it empowers them as creators. It also gives teachers additional time to focus on processes and outcomes.
The New Classroom Facilitators: Classroom Management Tools
To meet the rising demand for tech—and its corresponding consumption in the classroom—a number of classroom management tools (CMTs) have emerged that are helping expedite learning processes and learning outcomes. CMTs, like Kahoot and ClassDojo, are very popular software applications that teachers are using to deliver classroom content and manage student learning to/for an impressive number of students. In 2021, Kahoot! has more than one billion users in 200 countries; ClassDojo has 51 million users in 180 countries.3,4
In general, CMTs are quick-to-launch, affordable options for educators. Many have free versions and are as easy to download as traditional computer programs and mobile applications. They also have an impact. A great CMT can help educators “instantly deliver and assess learning, create seating charts, improve students' behavior, and set timed tasks,” that make “classrooms run like well-oiled machines.”5
Overall, tech-savvy educators are embracing classroom management tools to:
- Share learning and review materials expeditiously
- Create a safe virtual space to learn for all students
- Communicate with parents
- Manage student grades
- Provide lesson feedback to groups and individuals
- Poll students
- Keep track of student learning and manage improvement6
For those who want another tech option for their classrooms, there are plenty of educational applications and websites which are user-friendly. Students are using popular apps including YouTube, Microsoft Office, HyperDocs, and Google G Suite for Education to video stream, produce content, and share presentations. Students are also leveraging these technologies to view lessons, work on assignments in a group or as individuals, submit assignments, and receive teacher feedback.
The New Role of Teachers in the Tech Age
These new classroom technologies, management tools, and collaboration tools are transforming teaching experiences in incredible ways. According to Steelcase, a provider of products, services, and insights for today’s workplaces, today’s technology is adept enough to help educators “use their time with students to advance problem-solving, communication and collaboration—exactly the type of higher-order skills that leading education specialists say should be the goals of education for today’s world.”7
There are obvious benefits to doing so. Overall, there is less demand for the teacher to create all of the content, lessons, and core curriculum materials their many classrooms need while they also have to keep pace for the entire class. Teachers are now free to monitor more students at once, assign lesson plans that are delivered to students when students are ready to receive them, and teachers can share actionable content built by a network of fellow educators from across the U.S.—in just a few presses of their fingertips.
With the positives comes some “fine print.” In this emerging digital age that is touching and changing every aspect of education, teachers must be agile tech users and in-person multitaskers who can lead classrooms effectively while preserving important analog, educational traditions.
What does this mean for the bigger picture of tech-infused classrooms? Today’s educational goal is to create healthy students who can use tech but aren’t overly dependent on it to the point of negative outcomes. Teachers in tech-appointed classrooms need to remain ever-present role models, communication leaders, and connectors that can bridge the gap between tech and the “real world” as their students adapt, and mature, to both realities as they gain an education.
Ed Tech Pitfalls: What to Watch For
Despite the high degree of technology adoption and its use in an astounding 95% of classrooms, 70% of educators are concerned that devices are a distraction for students and 25% “feel intimidated by students’ knowledge of technology.”8,1
Students who overuse tech can show tiredness, frustration, fear, and bullying behavior as lack of sleep, over-dedication to competitive applications/games, and being exposed to certain media negatively affect their mindsets and emotions. Additionally, the potentially unhealthy impact of social media is a cause for concern in tech-connected classrooms.9
Education Solutions for Tech Classrooms
To improve education outcomes, it’s vital for today’s teachers to have techniques that mitigate and/or ameliorate the negative effects an overreliance and overuse of tech can cause. Here are a few tips educators can practice to help their students benefit from tech and use it properly.
Maintain Media Balance
Media balance is the practice of using technology in a healthy, balanced way so that other non-tech-based activities are still an important part of students’ daily lives. Help your students follow media balance by taking breaks from their devices, setting and observing daily use limits, and engaging in other activities including hobbies, exercise, family time, and reading. Reaching out to parents to help students maintain media balance when they are at home can also help reduce students’ overuse of technology. Keep lesson plans that involve software use to a minimum to boost the productive use of tech and advise students about the benefits of tech that come from planned use and not overuse and dependence.
Student’s with a strong reliance on technology can lose critical skill sets that support the creative thinking/problem-solving methods that are essential for long-term success, flexibility, and resilience. Today’s educators should include classroom activities and at-home exercises that encourage students to come up with original ideas and solutions to problems. Keeping traditional reading, writing, arts and crafts exercises, and music-based activities as part of your weekly classroom lessons will help keep students in a creative mode.
Protect Physical and Mental Health
Introducing health and well-being tech tools into your classroom will help your students create positive, lifelong relationships with the digital landscape. Currently, just 25% of teachers are using health and wellness tools though 75% of these educators say these tools have proven effective in their classrooms.10
In addition to using health apps, educators should set aside time for students to put digital devices down and get moving with physical exercises. Teaching students how to practice calming and destressing techniques, how to avoid negative, inaccurate media—especially on social platforms—will help them learn the difference between healthy online interactions versus negative ones. Have students regularly check on their physical and mental wellbeing with self-assessment check-in exercises in class. Don’t forget to remind students to turn off all screens well before bedtime. Try to model best tech practices in your own classroom; Adjust your classroom activities to maximize health and productivity while minimizing an overreliance on tech to avoid related consequences when you can.
By maximizing the benefits of education technology in your classrooms, you’ll help develop tech-adept students that have healthy digital habits and positive learning outcomes.
Make A Difference In Today’s Tech-Forward Classrooms.
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- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/09/classroom-tech-use-rise-infographic
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from kahoot.com/
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from techcrunch.com/2021/01/26/classdojos-second-act-comes-with-first-profits/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CIt's%20like%20Airbnb%20saying%20we,million%20users%20across%20180%20countries
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from commonsense.org/education/top-picks/classroom-management-apps-and-websites
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from educationalappstore.com/best-apps/5-best-classroom-management-apps-for-teachers
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from steelcase.com/research/articles/topics/technology/how-technology-is-changing-education/
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from thejournal.com/articles/2019/05/08/how-teachers-use-technology-in-the-classroom.aspx#:~:text=Nearly%20all%20teachers%20%E2%80%94%2095%20percent,are%20the%20most%20popular%20tools%3F
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from houstonisd.org/Page/185732
- Retrieved on August 4, 2021, from thejournal.com/articles/2019/05/08/how-teachers-use-technology-in-the-classroom.aspx