Today’s modern classroom, irrespective of whether it is a K-12 or higher education classroom, is not just limited to chalk and blackboards. With the advent of technology, classrooms across the globe have been transformed into dynamic learning spaces. These classrooms are now equipped with interactive whiteboards, digital learning solutions, virtual reality headsets, and a host of other devices. Yes, we are now seeing a shift away from the traditional model of teaching and learning towards a more integrated digital curriculum. In fact, the COVID situation has made all educators and students to look for newer ways of teaching and learning through technology.
This new wave of education is centered on using technology as an essential tool for students to actively engage in their own learning experiences. This type of hands-on instruction not only enables students to grasp concepts faster but also optimizes their retention rate long after they leave the classroom.
Technology is helping teachers facilitate an easier, more productive learning experience to students. If used optimally, it can be a great tool for enhancing students’ learning and learning experience. Thankfully today, there are numerous tools and services available to assist teachers who wish to adopt this new approach to teaching with technology. In this post, we will highlight some of the most useful resources for teachers who want to adopt a more digital approach to teaching and help students in improving their learning experience.
Classroom Tools and Learning Management System
Classroom tools are digital tools and services that can be used to improve teaching and learning. Classroom tools come in a wide range of tools, such as content curation, hand-on activities, interactive tools, quizzes, e-books, online textbooks, and video streaming. With the help of these tools, teachers can create a more interactive learning experience for students, such as enabling them to create content and access instructional materials from wherever they are. Furthermore, some of these services have features that can also help students with their studying and assignments. This not only makes learning effective, but also helps in creating a better learning experience. Google Classroom is a great example for a classroom tool. Formerly known as Google Apps for Education, this is a free course management system for teachers and students that allows for easy collaboration, organization, and the creation of interactive workflows. It provides access to a wide variety of tools such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These tools can be used to create collaborative assignments and document progress, as well as provide students with self-guided tutorials.
A learning management system (LMS) is a web-based technology used to plan, implement and assess a specific learning process. Some of the most popular LMSs include Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, D2L, Edmodo, etc. Let’s see some of these.
- Canvas - Canvas LMS is helpful for teachers and learners in enhancing their teaching and learning for all levels of education - from the K-12 to college faculty. It allows faculty to create content, conduct online assessments, post grades, and make announcements.
- Moodle – Moodle is a free and open-source LMS, used for course creation, blended learning, flipped classrooms and other online learning schemes in schools, colleges and universities. Its easy-to-use interface helps educators to create courses and for students to reduce distractions and focus on learning.
- Edmodo – It is a social learning platform designed for educators. Edmodo allows teachers to create course-related content, such as course syllabi, assignments, grading systems, and lesson plans. It also comes with a built-in social network that allows students and teachers to connect with one another and collaborate on course assignments. The site also allows for the creation of student groups for discussions and collaboration.
MOOCs and digital learning courses
Massive Open Online Courses generally known as MOOCs have become popular in the last 10-12 years. These are short-duration courses, typically 5-12 weeks long, which comprise video lectures from faculty, readings, discussion forum, ungraded self-assessment practice questions, and graded assessments. MOOCs are now used in different formats – such SPOCs (Single private online course), blended learning course, flipped classroom, and so on. Faculty can incorporate these with the University curriculum to in enhancing students’ learning. Some of the popular MOOC providers and other digital learning course providers include Coursera, Swayam, NPTEL, edX, Future Learn, iversity, Udacity, Udemy, Khan Academy, etc.
For example, Khan Academy is one of the most popular online educational portals. It offers a wide range of instructional videos on topics such as mathematics, science, technology, and history. These videos are not only offered as an online course but can also be used to supplement a teacher's lesson plan. The platform also includes a wide range of interactive math exercises, practice tests for SAT and other tests, and other resources to help students study.
Virtual Reality in Education
Virtual reality is an artificial environment, developed using software, and presented to the user in such a way that the user gets highly involved in that artificial environment and accepts it as a real environment. Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that lets users experience a 360-degree view of remote environments and events as though they are actually present in that place. Traditionally, VR has been used for entertainment, such as gaming and watching movies. However, more and more educators are also using VR to bring the classroom experience to life by allowing students to visit real-life locations and historical events that are difficult to access. For example, VR can be used as an alternative to field trips, where students can have the field or tour experience without actually visiting the place. This also helps in saving the cost of travel. With VR, students can also be transported to environments that would otherwise be dangerous or impractical to visit in real life. In this way, VR can be used to teach about the environment, history, and culture of different places.
A digital whiteboard is a computerized whiteboard that allows users to write or draw images by using a stylus or their fingers. These whiteboards are usually connected to a computer and operated through a touch-sensitive LCD screen. Digital whiteboards have many functionalities that can be used to enhance instruction and improve collaboration between students. For example, they can be used to share content, record presentations, and take interactive polls. Digital whiteboards are available on a wide variety of devices, such as LCD screens, touch pads, and interactive boards. Computerized whiteboards are not just limited to education but can also be used in business for brainstorming and creating visual representations of ideas and data. This can be done through the usage of online whiteboards, such as Google Drawings and Microsoft’s Boards.
Simulation and game-based courses
Simulation and game-based courses are teaching & learning method that tests students’ knowledge and skill levels by placing them in real-like scenarios where they must actively participate and solve problems. It promotes concept attainment through experiential practice. The educator defines the parameters for hands-on learning experiences. When participating in a scenario, students must understand the problem or scenario, evaluate the situation, plan, and decide on the best course of action, and perform the correct procedural steps. Educators can then assess whether the students have understood the concept and whether they are translating their learned knowledge into skills. Simulation and game-based courses are used for topics such as healthcare, business, entrepreneurship, engineering, science, and personal development.
Smartphones and Tablets
Tablets and smartphones have become a common part of our daily lives, with almost everyone owning some form of mobile device. Since these electronic devices are something that many students already possess, it makes sense to use them in the classroom as well. With tablets and smartphones, one can create online surveys, take pictures and record videos, and access a wide range of educational apps, videos, and more. One of the most useful ways to use tablets and smartphones in the classroom is by creating a digital portfolio where students can document their learning journey and showcase their projects. Tablets can also be used to take notes by students during lectures and presentations. With tablets, educators have a wide range of options at their disposal to engage students, such as creating digital textbooks or quizzes and polls. Apple's iPads in Education, for example, is a program designed for teachers to help them transform their classrooms into dynamic learning environments.
Cloud Storage and Collaboration
Cloud storage, a type of internet-based data storage, offers a secure way to store and access data from anywhere. You can upload the articles, e-books, and other learning components. This cloud storage allows your students to access their assignments from anywhere, whether it is from home or the library, and submit their work from any device. With cloud storage, you can also create online collaboration spaces where students can work on group projects, access and edit project resources, and digitally discuss their progress. Some of the most popular cloud storage platforms include Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox.
Technology has disrupted the education sector in recent years. Over the last two decades, we have witnessed technology changing education patterns, transforming it into a completely new version. In fact, education technology (EdTech) as an industry flourished in this period. The Indian EdTech industry is believed to have received a $16.1B in VC funding, which is 32 more than what was received in 2010. It is expected to reach $30 billion in the next 10 years (Maheshwari, 2022)
EdTech has transformed the way we interact with each other, engage in learning, and even go about our daily tasks. It is a win-win situation for both educators and students. In future too, new educational technologies are going to drive new ways of learning and teaching. We can expect technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), gamification, high-tech classrooms, and innovations in education softwares thrive in the education sector and can expect more newer technologies entering the industry.
Maheshwari, A. (2022, February 12). EdTech: The new growth catalyst of Indian education industry. Retrieved from India Today.