A totally engaging, inclusive, and enhanced learning experience! These are some reasons educational technology was integrated into teaching practices.
Educational Technology has revolutionized the way we teach. Since COVID stormed the educational world by surprise, Educational Technology has been at the forefront of teaching practices. It has been a medium through which teachers all over the world have been able to make lessons meaningful, interactive, and inclusive during remote learning.
Today’s classrooms and homes are tech-infused with tablets, laptops, and interactive online tools. Yet, with so many tools available how can one know what is best to use with pupils? In this blog you will explore the extent of what educational technology encompasses as well as some of the hottest educational technology tools out today.
Defining Educational Technology
According to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology (OET) educational technology or EdTech are technologies that when used appropriately can be an effective tool for learning, can increase learning access for all children, and strengthen relationships with families. This means that when used by educators EdTEch has the power to transform students’ lives.
An Uprising Popularity
With school closures due to the 2020 COVID pandemic EdTech became a must for educators all around the world. According to a survey by Promethean, 8/10 educators agree that technology helped them do their job in 2020. It is without a doubt that educators had to catch up and get comfortable using the latest technology trends. Moreover, technology is constantly evolving by the minute and educational technology is no different.
Having to teach remotely has created an immense need for popular educational technology tools out there to evolve and adapt to current educator and student needs. We will now explore some of the hottest EdTech tools currently available and how to determine which one is right for you.
The following EdTech tools were categorized by their function in the classroom. They are also some of my favorites!
Distance Learning Video Conferencing
Zoom is a communications platform that enables new ways of teaching, learning, and working across educational environments. Zoom is known for its many advanced features which offer classroom management, student engagement, accessibilities, and a customized learning experience etc. Zoom offers a free version with limited capabilities and an all access paid version.
Meet is a video-communication service developed by Google which offers simple scheduling, easy recording, and adaptive layouts to help people stay engaged and connected. It has capabilities such as hosting up to 250 participant meetings, screen sharing, and meeting controls. This tool is free with your google account.
Teams is a workspace where one can go from group chatting to a video call with the touch of a button. You can securely connect, access, share, and coauthor files in real time. In addition, you can keep notes, documents, and calendars together all in one place. Microsoft Teams offers free and paid versions of its service.
Google Classroom is a free and easy tool helping educators efficiently manage and assess students’ progress throughout the school year. Google Classroom makes it easy for teachers to hold classes with students and communicate with parents through its Meet integration. Students keep organized and informed of their progress through Classroom’s To Do feature and Gradebook.
Seesaw is a platform for student and family engagement. Teachers can empower students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate through Seesaw’s multi-tool interface. Students demonstrate what they have learned using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. Students’ work can then be shared with up to 10 family members through Seesaw’s family account. The family account also allows for parents to communicate with their child’s teacher privately. Seesaw currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Schoology is a virtual learning environment for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. Schoology allows students to manage files, assignments, assessments, learning outcomes, and badges. A perk of using Schoology is that it has unlimited storage. You can import files, create new resources, and copy or move them into any or all of your courses with a click of a button. Schoology currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Canvas is an online course management system that supports online learning and teaching. It allows for posting grades, resources, and assignments. Some of Canvas top features are discussion boards for asynchronous discussions, chat rooms for live discussions, and centralized email. Students can easily stay in touch with their teacher and communicate with other students. Canvas currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Engaging and Interactive
Nearpod is an interactive presentation tool that engages students and promotes collaboration. Students actively participate during any given lesson while teachers get instant feedback of students’ learning. Creating slide lessons are made easy with Nearpod’s interactive add on features as well as their robust ready-made lessons library. These lessons can be presented in teacher or student-paced learning modes on any device. Nearpod currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Pear Deck is an interactive add-on presentation tool where slides can be created within PowerPoint online or Google Slides. Pear Deck has the power to help students build confidence and comprehension in each lesson. Students log in on any device to access each presentation with a unique access code and interact with questions live while the teacher monitors students’ progress. Peardeck currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Mentimeter is a tool to easily create interactive presentations wherever you are. Mentimeter’s features include quick response tools such as live polls, quizzes, word clouds, Q&As and more to get real-time input. Mentimeter currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Communication and Collaboration
Google Workspace is a collection of productivity and collaboration tools. It includes collaboration tools such as Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, and more. These tools can make it easy to communicate and collaborate with others no matter how far apart you may be. It is without a doubt that many of these tools have made teaching remotely possible for many teachers around the world. Google Workspace currently offers free and paid versions of its services.
Screencastify is a free Chrome extension that makes it easy to record, edit, and share videos of you and your computer screen. ScreenCastify has made flipping the classroom possible during remote learning. Teachers can record lessons and easily share it with students via email, link, embedded code, YouTube, or Google Classroom. Screencastify currently offers free and paid versions of its services.
Flipgrid is a free and accessible video recording tool that allows every student’s voice to be heard. This amazing tool can be used for PreK all the way up to PhD educators, learners and families. Teachers can create discussion topics to which students can answer by recording a video response. Responses can then be shared with class for feedback or kept private for teacher eyes only. All services in Flipgrid are currently free for all.
Wakelet is a content curation platform where teachers and students can create visual, engaging collections that educate, inform, and inspire! Wakelet’s features include saving links, social media posts, importing videos, files, and images. Wakelet collections can be shared with other users for collaboration purposes. These collections can be kept as private or public for others to see and use. Users can add notes to each item in order to tell a story, ask questions, or give directions. Wakelet is accessible and inclusive. All services in Wakelet are currently free for all.
Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that can be used to introduce new topics, review, reward, and collect data for formative assessment . Kahoot makes it easy to create, share, and play learning games or quizzes in minutes. Kahoot allows for a variety of question types to be added as well as content slides. Lessons and quiz games can be played in two modes live or student paced. Many times student paced Kahoots are assigned for homework by teachers. Once completed teachers receive a detailed report on students’ performance. Kahoot currently offers free and paid versions of its services.
Gimkit is a classroom game based platform where students compete by answering questions correctly. As students answer questions correctly they earn virtual currency which they can invest during the game to boost their score by sabotaging other players’ games. One major difference that distinguishes Gimkit from other game based learning platforms is the various game modes it includes. Currently Gimkit has 10 different game modes that teachers and students can use! This game can be quite fun and helps teachers gain a better insight of what students know. Gimkit currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Quizizz is a game based learning platform that can be used for pre-test review, exams, unit test, and impromptu tests. It allows for a variety of question types to be added as well as content slides. Lessons and quiz games can be played in two modes: live or student paced. At the end of each game students can review their answers. Often student paced Quizizz are assigned for homework by teachers. Once completed teachers receive a detailed report on students’ performance. Quizizz currently offers free and paid versions of its services.
EdPuzzle is a learning platform that allows you to engage every student, one video at a time. Videos are a powerful resource on this platform. Videos are processed with simple editing tools to use only the parts of the video needed for student learning. Teachers are able to insert questions for students to answer throughout the video. Once assigned and completed teachers receive specific data reports on how students performed. One neat feature is that students cannot skip through the video or questions, they must watch it in its entirety. EdPuzzle gives teachers the power to be able to hold students accountable for their learning. EdPuzzle currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Canva is a graphic design platform used to create any visual content! Canva’s design templates and graphics library makes it easy and fun to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and more. A major plus is that Canva can be used collaboratively amongst students and teachers. For teachers this is a must have as we are constantly creating flyers and presentations for all types of occasions. The platform is free to use but offers paid subscriptions for extended features.
Padlet is a free online tool that is easy to use and intuitive. It is best described as a collaborative online board. Padlet can be used by students and teachers to post notes, links, videos, images, and document files. Other features used to add posts with one click are copy-paste, or drag and drop. Changes to any of your posts are autosaved. Padlet currently offers free and paid versions of its service.
Choosing the Right Tools
There is no right or wrong answer when trying a new EdTech tool. The most important thing is to take that first step and give Ed Tech tools a try. Then evaluate and see which is the best fit for you and your students. There is no one size fits all when it comes to our students’ educational journey.
To evaluate ask yourself these questions about the Ed Tech tools you use: Is this Ed Tech tool engaging my students? Is it inclusive? Is it enhancing my students’ learning experience? Will it help my students with their academic growth? Does it provide me with the data I need to help my students in areas they are lacking? If these questions are a resonating YES then you know you are on the right track.
“Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.” – George Couros
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mrs. E. Martinez is an Elementary Coding Lab teacher for grades K-5th. She has a passion for teaching young coders the foundational skills of coding as well as the value it has in their everyday lives and future. As an educational technology enthusiast she supports her fellow colleagues with the latest EdTech trends and serves as an ambassador for several educational platforms.