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10 Technology Advances to a 21st Century School, Part 2

31 Dec 2014 by Tracy Vasquez

Bold leadership leads schools to meet the needs of new generations through a transformation using digital tools. In part 1, see the first five technology advances to transform a school into a 21st century school, which integrates digital tools as new norms. The next five steps are directed toward technology support tools for assessment, documentation, and demonstration of student learning.

  1. Digital Assessments. Tests and quizzes designed and stored on a digital platform can process and store student data, demonstrate learning progress and trends, and provide immediate feedback to student learners. In addition, there is the capacity to facilitate peer review. Socrative is one such technology tool with both free and paid options. It can be used on tablets, laptops, and smartphones. Another option is Google Forms. Both of these options allow responses in the form of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short essay.
  2. Digital Response Systems. Those who have worked in education relatively recently may know about clickers – hand-held devices that fit in the palm of a student’s hand. Sometimes these work well; sometimes they don’t. These devices are an emerging form that remains expensive and painstaking. More recently, educators are using poll technology similar to the tools commonly used in marketing and business applications. Resources like Poll Everywhere and Poll Daddy can be used with any devices, and provide some free functionality to elicit student responses in real time. Additionally, this is a technology tool that works well in planning, previewing, and concluding professional development sessions for teachers.
  3. Multimedia Posterboards. There are a few tools available now to replace and even expand upon traditional posterboard demonstrations of student learning. Similar to a poster presentation, students gather information, images and data from multiple sources to organize what they have learned into a visual display. Students can use these tools for simple or complex demonstrations. Some examples are Smore and Padlet. These can be linked to or integrated onto a webspace for community sharing.
  4. Webspaces – webpages, wikis, and blogs – which are similar to the multimedia posterboards, allow teachers and students to add digital content to the Internet. Class, group, or individual pages can be built with a basic design structure provided on resources, including Weebly, Wikispaces, Wix, Blogger, Tumblr, Edublogs, or Kidblog.
  5. Social Media for education. Social media can be used for a more dynamic webspace with advanced functionality to support community involvement and collaborative learning. Edmodo is a social platform specifically for education to enable innovative professional learning communities. Users are given access by verified identity then grouped by class, school, and district. Resources, links, and assignments can be directed and shared. Alternative social media tools are Facebook, Blackboard, or Edu2.0.
  6. Digital Games. Digital games present the most logical learning techniques to the next generation. Games allow for individual choice and often involve working collaboratively toward a goal. Games are unparalleled in engagement and motivation for learners. Katie Salen, a DePaul University professor who studies gaming in education, describes the games as enabling a process of iteration and discovery (thejournal.com). Salen emphasizes the impact on assessment as games are filled with data on how players are doing and what they need to get better. Some examples are Sim-CityEDU and MinecraftEDU.

Salen, Katie (2013) Can Gaming Improve Teaching and Learning. Thejournal.com. http://online.qmags.com/TJL0813/default.aspx?pg=26&mode=1#pg26&mode1

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