Even before COVID-19 took hold of the world, the role of technology in education was a significant talking point. Social isolation amid a global pandemic has made the push to incorporate technology into school curricula even more essential. In some instances, technology-assisted distance learning is the only way for students and educators to stay connected.
Technology has the potential to enhance the educational experience and maximize learning efficiency. Its use in an intentional, well-planned manner is crucial to achieving desired learning outcomes.
Take Advantage of Virtual Classrooms
Virtual classrooms are a challenging but necessary reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers may see them as another barrier to instruction. Parents and students may find them confusing, and the lack of technology to participate in virtual learning is a problem for some students. Balancing student health and academic progress is a tricky proposition for educators and administrators.
However, teachers can increase virtual classroom effectiveness while maintaining the culture they worked so hard to establish during face-to-face instruction. It all begins with educators asking strategic questions to assess the state of learning in the virtual classroom.
- Are students present and engaged during live instruction?
- Do they maintain regular communication with the teacher?
- Do their submitted assignments indicate that they are meeting course objectives?
Suppose the answers to these questions suggest that students are dealing with virtual learning fatigue. In that case, it will be necessary to refocus the class and make the changes required to reinforce a thriving learning community. Activities that build responsibility and relationships will strengthen these changes.
- Keep students connected to the course through daily emails, phone calls and group messages.
- Use the chat function or a video response tool to have conversations with students and ask them questions about themselves. (What excites you? What is something you feel good about accomplishing? How are you motivated?)
- Use breakout rooms in Zoom or Microsoft Teams to provide opportunities for students to work with a partner or in small groups. These experiences allow individuals to be active, engaged participants in the learning process.
- Establish and regularly revisit a digital community contract.
Using these tools and continually assessing the climate of your virtual classroom can keep students engaged and motivated until school districts return to something resembling normal operations.
Assign Work That Allows for Creative Use of Technology
Today’s students grew up using technology in ways many teachers or administrators could never have imagined when they were in school. For that reason alone, it would be an oversight to exclude technological advances from the classroom, whether virtual or in person. Students are already comfortable with many forms of technology. Using it to turn in assignments gives them the freedom to be more creative in their educational endeavors, potentially bolstering confidence or awakening new passions.
Consider these fresh takes on assignments to boost student engagement.
Turn written reports into blog posts.
The ability to incorporate multi-media and share content with friends and family is a great way to inspire students to put more thought, effort and creativity into their assignments. It also gives them insight into the basics of web design and, potentially, marketing.
Encourage submission of presentations as videos or podcasts.
Not all students are comfortable giving presentations in front of their peers. Stage fright can make it difficult for some individuals to excel at assignments that involve public performance. Not having a live audience gives students the opportunity to be creative without being self-conscious. They can then dive deeper into the assigned subject, enabling school leaders to meet or surpass learning outcomes.
Make it a game.
The gamification of education is not a new concept. Still, the technology that exists to support this initiative is an enormous improvement over what existed even just a decade ago. Various online gamification platforms allow students to fill out surveys, take quizzes or compete with their classmates. Consider using a gamification platform for a quiz or round of trivia designed to measure what students learned during the lesson.
Many methods are available for educators and administrators seeking to upgrade their curricula by incorporating technology. While the results of these strategies can be game-changing, it’s wise to have a plan in place to meld education with technological advances.
Earning a degree that covers the use of technology in education can be beneficial for school leaders who want to stay ahead of the game. Emporia State University’s Master of Science in Educational Administration includes a course called Supporting Technology Integration for School Leaders. Along with the rest of the master’s program curriculum, it helps educators level up to manage PreK-12 schools efficiently.