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10 Simple Ways to Enhance Learning with Technology

24 Jul 2014 by Karen Gibson

In the 21st century, technology and learning go hand-in-hand. Today’s K-12 students have never known life without technology. Yet technology in the classroom can be a headache for teachers—classroom management, revising lesson plans, implementation. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you use simple ways to incorporate technology in the classroom.

1. Range of devices

Many students come to class device-ready, and cloud technology allows students to move between devices. Use cell phones as learning tools to take notes, research information, or scan a teacher-created QR code to access information. Use e-mail and texting to improve communication with students.

2. Resources at your fingertips

One of the best technological tools for the classroom remains the Internet. It allows students to research almost any topic, compare multiple viewpoints, connect with other people and cultures, and solve problems.

3. Organizational tools

Various subjects involve data, particularly mathematics, science and social studies. Database and spreadsheet programs let students organize data in a variety of ways that can them better understand the information. For example, when applying linear equations to real-life information such as population, students can plot data in a spreadsheet and explore relationships through graphs or charts.

4. Share ideas

Word processing programs provide students a means with which to communicate ideas, opinions and knowledge — to share with their teacher or even publish to a broader audience.

With electronic journals, students reflect or comment on prompts provided by the teacher. Used in a monitored forum or as a class blog, digital writing encourages a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions.

5. Presentations

The days of standing in front of others to give an oral report are gone — in the workplace and in school. Today’s presentations use a variety of tools and media. Presentation programs such as PowerPoint or Captivate let students to organize information in a visually-interesting way, with charts, graphics, video and bulleted lists for more powerful presentations.

6. Collaboration

Learning to work together—collaboration—is an important 21st century skill. A range of communication and collaboration tools makes it possible for groups to work together, whether they’re in the same room or at different points across the world. Google Drive allows the online creation and collaboration of documents, presentations or spreadsheets. Cloud storage programs like Dropbox are another way to share files and work collaboratively.

7. Real-world applications

Technology boosts the learning potential of real-life problem-solving activities. Students use the Internet to access data and consult experts. After researching a problem, students can propose a solution. Applying learning to real life makes it more meaningful and memorable.

Simulations provide another avenue for problem-solving, with interactive programs that aid students in understanding complicated issues. Sim CityTM and the physics simulation program, Physion, are examples. Lessonplanet.com lists 6,335 simulations for teachers.

8. Extend learning

Technology tools provide a more interactive experience, turning the passive student into an active learner. Apps like SketchPad Explorer reinforce these concepts with a game-like atmosphere that makes students want to continue learning, even after they leave the classroom.

9. Use an LMS

Teachers may post assignments on a website, but learning management systems (LMS) such as Blackboard or Moodle broaden capabilities with the ability to post videos, podcasts, files, links and assessments. Students control learning by reviewing the posts as often as needed. Online assignment information and materials can never be lost and calendars show due dates.

10. Flip classrooms

Encourage teachers to experiment with flipping their classrooms. When teachers “flip” lectures outside of class, class time can be used for hands-on learning. And the lecture you want to give may already be online. Have you checked BrainPop, YouTube, or TED Talks lately?

A range of tools allows teachers to create simple screencasts to interactive videos. User-friendly electronic whiteboard apps, such as Educreations or Explain Everything, help break down complicated problems.

Technology for technology’s sake rarely works, but technology to enhance learning is a very powerful tool. Make a goal to implement learner-centered technology once a week or even once a month. Connect the technology with a learning objective to make it more meaningful. Next week or month, try something else. Before you know it, teachers have an arsenal of technological teaching tools.

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