EdTech for Classroom Engagement
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Keeping students engaged in the classroom is a priority for every educator. Without it, students lose interest, classrooms are hard to manage, and grades dip. According to the Irish Study of Student Engagement, 23% of Year 9 students are disengaged in the classroom. However, education technology or EdTech, can boost classroom engagement by making education more interactive, relatable and personalised.
EdTech is an umbrella term covering a wide range of digital tools and resources designed to enhance teaching and learning. Today’s post explores how EdTech can help transform student engagement. We look at the benefits and challenges and how EdTech can also empower teachers, making their working lives that bit easier.
EdTech Tools and Techniques
Nowadays, students are exposed to tech from an early age. The use of mobiles and tablets among young people has exploded, and 93% of 8-12-year-olds now own a smart device. The transition to using EdTech in classrooms is straightforward for these digital natives. And it resonates more with today’s learners than traditional lecture-style teaching.
Here are some of the most popular EdTech tools and techniques to help you better engage students:
Interactive learning platforms: These online tools allow students to get involved in their learning in more meaningful and active ways than ever. Platforms like Quizlet, Pear Deck and ClassPoint offer multimedia content, quizzes, games and simulations aligned with the curriculum and learning objectives.
Gamification in education: Let’s face it: whether it’s Minecraft or Fortnite, your students are likely to spend many hours playing online games. So, introducing game elements into the classroom makes sense to captivate students’ attention. Points, badges, leaderboards and rewards make learning fun. Furthermore, a bit of competition can be incredibly motivating. Good examples of gamification in education platforms include CodeCombat, Kahoot! and Classcraft.
Virtual and augmented reality: This latest technology creates immersive and realistic experiences for learners. Students are introduced to real-world environments that are just not possible in the classroom. One day, it might be exploring molecular structures, and the next, students could be transported to Ancient Rome. AR and VR in educationoffer endless possibilities for bringing lessons to life. Excellent options to explore include Google Expeditions, Microsoft HoloLens and CoSpaces.
Student Engagement through EdTech
One of the most exciting possibilities of EdTech is the potential for personalised learning experiences. Personalisation is one of the main drivers of engagement. Rather than generic instruction, content is tailored to the individual’s unique needs, preferences and abilities. This gives students the feeling that they are receiving the support they deserve. And it makes the learning experience more meaningful.
Furthermore, real-time feedback and analytics help students and educators better monitor progress and improve performance. Areas of strength and weakness are easier to identify, and learning strategies can be adjusted accordingly. Teachers can track student performance, differentiate their teaching, and provide timely, targeted support using analytics tools like Formative and Socrates.
Social, collaborative learning also boosts engagement. When students collaborate, they learn from each other while developing essential life skills. And EdTech also has much to offer here. Collaborative learning tools like Google Classroom, Padlet and Flipgrid encourage project-based, peer-to-peer learning. They also help develop a sense of community, belonging and cooperation among classmates.
Furthermore, EdTech tools introduce an element of flexibility unheard of in traditional education. Students can access learning resources anytime and anywhere, perfect for today’s busy schedules. They can set their own pace, catch up on missed lessons, and reinforce learning concepts outside the classroom.
Teacher Empowerment via EdTech
The benefits of using educational technology don’t just stop with students. There are also many advantages for teachers not least a reduction in workloads.
Let’s explore how EdTech can support teachers.
Streamlined lesson planning: A lot of work goes into designing, organising and delivering lessons. EdTech can simplify and automate these tasks. Platforms like Planboad, CommonLit and EdPuzzle offer ready-made, customisable online templates and resources. Not only does it save teachers valuable time, but it also helps in creating more engaging lessons.
Professional development: EdTech tools open up a world of flexible opportunities for teacher professional development. Take your pick from online courses, webinars, podcasts, and much more for anytime anywhere learning. Furthermore, EdTech offers teachers platforms to network, connect and support their peers. Sharing insights and expertise and even gripes in online forums is empowering.
Enhanced teacher-student interaction: When it comes to student engagement, much depends on the teacher’s ability to know where students are at in their learning. Real-time learning analytics help teachers identify where a student might be struggling. Educators can step in and offer support when it counts. Likewise, positive feedback can drive engagement. With student performance analytics, teachers can recognise and praise students for their achievements in the moment.
Educational Technology: Challenges and Solutions
Despite the many benefits of EdTech, it’s not all plain sailing. There are some barriers to overcome before you can maximise its potential. Here are the headlines you need to know about:
The digital divide: Not all students have access to technology. The digital divide creates disadvantages, especially for low-income students or those in rural communities where internet coverage is often patchy.
This challenge can be overcome by ensuring that all students have equitable access to educational technology. Providing affordable devices, internet connectivity, and technical support helps bridge the gap.
Balancing screen time with maintaining student wellbeing: Too much screen time can negatively impact children’s health and wellbeing. It can cause eye strain, sleep problems, and back or neck pain. And it can also decrease the attention spans of young people.
Furthermore, time spent online is often at the expense of physical activity and face-to-face time with friends. Anxiety and depression are all too often the consequences of too much time spent online.
Teachers must be mindful of the need for screen time balance with other non-screen classroom activities. They should also encourage healthy habits with regular breaks, exercise, and social interaction.
Overcoming resistance to technology adoption in schools: It’s not uncommon for teachers to encounter resistance and even opposition to technology adoption in schools from parents, students, or administrators. Often, it’s driven by the fear of change, a lack of skills or confidence. And some people just prefer traditional teaching methods.
Teachers can address this challenge by promoting a culture of innovation amongst the school community. Training, guidance and support will help all stakeholders see the value of EdTech tools.
Predictions and Trends in Digital Learning and Technology Integration
Crystal ball gazing is always a difficult task. However, there are some emerging trends to be aware of in this constantly evolving space. Here’s our take on the ones to watch.
The potential of AI and machine learning: AI and machine learning have already burst onto the digital landscape. Check out our comprehensive blog series for a detailed analysis of the impact of AI on education.
The most significant effect will be on providing personalised education. AI and machine learning in teaching can enhance personalised learning experiences by offering adaptative learning pathways. Content and feedback are focused on each student based on their data and behaviour.
Moreover, AI and machine learning can automate and optimise tasks like grading and assessment. This could transform the workload of teachers and significantly reduce the admin burden.
Preparing students for a tech-driven world: There’s no doubt that the future will be driven by technology, affecting every aspect of our lives and work. Teachers need to prepare students by equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in a technology-driven future. Creativity and critical thinking will be crucial and EdTech in the classroom is a fantastic place to start.
EdTech and Classroom Engagement: Final Thoughts
Educational technology has the power to transform the classroom experience, making it more engaging, interactive and personalised. It also has much to offer teachers with more flexible professional development and streamlined lesson planning.
However, teachers must be aware of the digital divide and the importance of balancing screen time with other activities.
Continuous innovation and adaptation are the name of the game in the constantly evolving field of digital education.
The Digital Learning Institute’s new continuing professional development platform can help you stay ahead of the curve. Sign up today and build your expertise on the latest digital learning trends and tools.