Educational technology (EdTech) is the integration of teaching methods with computer technology. It optimizes educational tools and methods and enables teachers to help their students through the learning process in today’s complex digital environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 resulted in an escalation in internet-based teaching practices, and the benefits have been widely recognized. Whether teaching remotely or in classrooms, teachers are now able to use technology as an aid in reaching students in remote locations, creating lesson plans to help students learn at their own pace, and evaluating their results more effectively.
The introduction of web-based learning enables students to conduct their own research and broadens their horizons, teaching them research and communication skills and nurturing an ethos of privacy and safety while using the internet. Students now have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, be it visiting other countries and learning about different cultures, solving complicated math equations, visualizing historical events, and more.
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and large storage facilities has enabled teachers to access student information and make decisions based on past and current performance, provide timely feedback and adjust teaching materials when problems are identified. Technology enables teachers to provide immediate feedback on projects and examinations in a format that students can process. It also enables students to make adjustments to their study materials. With this ease of access to student data, teachers can analyze student preferences and abilities and come up with suggestions and individual learning plans.
Based on the analysis of student performance data and the challenges they may be facing, teachers can quickly identify students who are struggling to cope, possibly because of language barriers or learning difficulties. Teachers utilize EdTech methods to provide their challenged students with access to learning materials and teaching methods that are more relevant to their needs, thus enabling them to keep up with their classmates.
When a teacher is faced with a new student, they must identify their educational needs. The expectation is that students will have completed the full curriculum from the previous semester or qualification, but this may not always be the case. A good place to start is by identifying what the student knows and doing a gap analysis between the current knowledge and what still needs to be covered to achieve the desired outcome.
Having a conversation with the student may help to clarify what they know and what they expect from their education. However, the student’s perception of the desired outcome versus that of the teacher may differ, and the eventual educational outcomes need to be discussed and clarified.
Learning needs fall into one of four categories: self-recognized or perceived needs, unperceived needs, misperceived needs, and emergent needs. Teachers can guide learners, helping them to identify their needs, informing them of misconceptions and assisting them to identify emergent needs.
Other factors may be affecting the student’s progress, and these should be considered when determining the individual needs of the student. The student might have learning difficulties or may have fallen behind in their studies because of religious or language differences that are hindering their progress.
Setting educational goals
Goal setting encourages students to focus on the present and plan for the future. Smaller, short-term goals help students to realize that with hard work, they can achieve their objectives. Each small success gives students a sense of achievement and encourages them to work hard toward meeting their goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely. Teachers should ensure that their students are given a specific set of criteria to work by and that their short-term goals are attainable within the given timeframe. By monitoring students as they work toward their short-term goals, teachers can identify possible problems and help them realign their work to achieve their objectives.
Helping students to set long-term, more ambitious goals creates a growth mindset and gives them an incentive to work toward their small goals so that they may achieve their desired results. Teachers can also form small teams to discuss and set goals. This encourages healthy interactions between students as they discuss their objectives and learn from each other.
Professional education for teachers
Teachers are faced with having to keep up with the fast-moving changes in technology on a regular basis, and it certainly adds interest and some challenges to the job.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Teachers are faced with questions such as ‘Should I allow my students to use their phones in class?’ ‘How do I protect my students’ privacy while using technology in the classroom?’ ‘Which technology should I use?’ ‘How can I make sure that students have access to technology from home?’ ‘How do I keep learners focused while using technology in the classroom?’ ‘How can digital equipment be funded?’ ‘How can I ensure equity when students are unable to afford digital equipment?’ These are some of the many concerns that educational leaders must address when choosing technology options for their students.
In its Teacher Digital Learning Guide, the Office of Educational Technology offers advice and lists numerous options for teacher self-improvement. It advises teachers to pursue a self-development plan that involves a combination of online self-study and collaboration with colleagues where they can share ideas and utilize available tools and resources within their institution.
Having conversations with colleagues helps teachers learn as they share their experiences and receive advice on issues that they may be experiencing. When creating lessons and setting examinations, group collaboration saves time and ensures that study materials are accurate and adhere to the curricula.
The availability of online training courses helps teachers to improve their professional knowledge and offers them the flexibility of being able to study at their own pace.
Teaching involves ongoing study and self-improvement to keep up with changing technology and teaching methods. Today, teaching offers so much scope for improving your professional development and status. You can learn about what you can do with a Doctorate of Education by reading the Spalding University blog. Spalding University offers an Online Doctor of Education in Leadership. Students complete one course at a time, and the program typically takes two years to complete. The program is ideal for current and future leaders who wish to study while still working.
Personalized learning platforms
Educational leaders and teachers can investigate and make use of various packages that facilitate the assessment of their student’s work and progress, personalize study plans and materials for individual students, manage teachers’ and students’ time, accumulate results, monitor students’ progress, record any difficulties experienced, and determine the success of recommended solutions.
EdTech has enabled students and teachers to choose study materials based on the students’ strengths and interests. It helps students work at a pace that is independent of their fellow students and relieves peer pressure and unnecessary competition that can have a negative outcome. When students work on their own, they have the freedom to focus on and evaluate their work. This empowers them to take responsibility for their successes and failures, to readjust when necessary, and to acknowledge their personal achievements.
Real-time updates enable teachers to focus on individual students’ needs and make adjustments to teaching materials and goal plans where necessary.
Personalized learning enables teachers to monitor and make allowances for students who find themselves in difficult circumstances. It promotes the use of aids in the case of disabled students and allows for the incorporation of games or quizzes for students who find it difficult to focus.
Parent involvement in personalized learning solutions is important as it encourages support and can be useful when making decisions regarding the student’s future study plans.
Active learning and flipping classrooms
Traditional education programs relied mainly on listening to lessons and reading. Studies have shown that the active participation of students in the educational process enhances their learning and improves their performance.
Active learning methods include note-taking, posing problems for students to solve, encouraging participation in discussions, inviting challenging ideas, asking students to do presentations, pausing to ask students to write about what they have just learned, creating work groups, allocating time after the lecture for questions, and allocating time for a quiz after each lecture (this will encourage learners to pay attention in lectures).
Flipped classroom models require students to watch their lessons at home and then do the practical work in the classroom. Flipped classrooms are synonymous with active learning strategies and are believed to improve students’ thought processes, enhancing their social interaction within a more disciplined and intellectual environment.
Relying on students to learn at home can have its challenges. Children whose home environment is not conducive to study or who are just simply lazy may not achieve this. On the other hand, lazy children who don’t do their homework as a rule may be inspired to do it when they realize that they are missing out on the lesson.
Flipping gives students flexibility, as they can work at their own pace without pressure from fellow students. It paves the way for students to have more fun in the classroom and promotes discussion and debate among students, with the teacher being an onlooker and acting as an occasional guide in the process. Instead of standing at the front and delivering a lesson, the teacher has the opportunity to interact with and get to know the students on a number of levels, making the assessment of their work and personalities considerably easier.
Initially, flipping a classroom may mean more preparation for the teacher, but once the groundwork has been done, the workload should be reduced.
Careful planning should be done beforehand to make the classroom activities as interesting as possible. Students will be required to do more work at home, and unless they can see the benefits of the classroom activities, they may lose interest or start to resent the time spent on completing lessons at home.
Communication and collaboration tools
With the array of communication and collaboration tools available today, teachers are able to interact effectively with both parents and students. Educational leaders need to do the initial groundwork so that they can standardize and provide their teaching staff with recommended sources and tools for use in classrooms. There is nothing preventing teachers from finding their own tools to enhance what they are already using, provided that they don’t clash with the systems already provided by the institution’s management.
There are endless opportunities when it comes to software solutions that improve the functioning of educational institutions. Communication tools that facilitate interaction between teachers and students on certain platforms can be integrated with assessment software so that feedback on student progress is real time and effective. Interaction between students facilitates the swapping of ideas and support. Communication with parents when dealing with their children’s problems at school enables teachers and parents to address problems swiftly.
Setting up various communication systems can take time, and the security of data and students’ personal details needs to be taken seriously. The vast array of accessible communication platforms and tools can be daunting at times, and educators must familiarize themselves with many options so that they can make informed decisions.
Begin by identifying the objectives for communication in the various environments, such as parent/teacher or student group communication. Consider the type of communication required – is there a need to transfer large amounts of data or just send brief messages?
It is necessary for educational leaders to investigate the efficiency, reliability and security of their chosen tools, testing them thoroughly before making them accessible. Ease of set-up is another consideration that can cost many hours of valuable time if not thoroughly investigated beforehand.
Communication overload can also cause problems, making it necessary to consider putting protocols in place to avoid this scenario.
Technology in education
Technology has brought about many changes in the way that teachers and students interact with each other and with their learning materials. It is important to make sure you are utilizing the best possible options for teaching your students and taking advantage of the value that technology gives to successful study and communication.