The use of technology in the classroom has risen in recent years, spiking in large part due to the need for distance learning accommodations.
A recent survey from McKinsey proves what many believe to be true: teachers and schools are more readily turning to technology to create a more engaging and interactive classroom environment.
67% of respondents confirmed that their school has implemented some form of real-time chatting or virtual polling tool, while machine learning, AI-assisted course delivery, and even augmented/virtual reality have also enjoyed more popularity post-pandemic.
What’s more, an overwhelming majority of student respondents had positive responses to each of the technology tools mentioned in the survey. Plus, faculty members cited the main reason for not adopting these tech tools boils down to a lack of awareness.
So tech tools in education are here to stay, but how exactly are educational institutions using them to teach more effectively?
Greater Connection, Communication, and Collaboration
In a McKinsey study, eight dimensions were identified as cornerstones of an effective higher education experience. A common undercurrent to these dimensions is the idea that students should be able to find information easily, participate in engaging group activities, and access around-the-clock support.
Technology can provide the invisible infrastructure that enables students to connect, communicate, and collaborate more effectively.
In the past, teachers’ desks (or email inboxes) would be flooded with questions, submitted assignments, and completed class exercises. While this system wasn’t necessarily flawed, it left plenty of room for error as assignments could go missing in spam folders and students could claim they submitted them when they didn’t.
The emergence of eLearning portals has allowed educational institutions - from schools to colleges - to streamline everything from assignment submission to teacher-student communication.
With these portals, students can:
- Upload assignments for teacher review
- Communicate with their teachers
- Check for announcements, due dates, and access important resources
For teachers, these portals simplify the marking process as everything they need is all in one place. Plus, some portals integrate plagiarism-checking software so teachers don’t need to spend additional time checking each assignment for signs of plagiarism.
Polls and Group Chats
In a world where social media commands the attention span of younger generations, bringing the positive elements of this interconnectivity into the classroom can only be a positive.
Specifically, many educational institutions have found ways to incorporate interactive elements into classroom discussions and debates.
For example, virtual polls make it possible for all students to vote on quizzes, questionnaires, and trivia games from mobile devices. There are also group chat tools that let students communicate with one another as part of a team, making it easier to collaborate on group projects while getting to grips with online communication.
Virtual Community Solutions
For the youngest students, motivation and discipline can be the most important factors for effective learning. Finding ways to bring the classroom back to order and motivate students to engage in exercises and activities is a constant challenge.
Technology can equip teachers with powerful tools to create a fun classroom environment and one which inspires young learners to want to learn.
One of the best tools for young learners is the virtual community. ClassDojo is a great example, as it allows students to pick their own cartoon monster avatar and earn (or lose) points as they complete activities in the classroom.
A system like this can be used for both positive and negative reinforcement and in practice, helps the whole classroom operate as a collective.
There’s nothing quite like the promised reward of playing ‘Baby Shark’ on the big screen to bring a room of young learners to silence, and encourage students to take individual and collective responsibility.
Engaging Classroom Exercises
In the McKinsey survey of tech tools in the classroom, students gave various reasons for why they thought technology could enhance their learning experience:
- It improves the ability to learn content
- It can make learning more efficient
- It makes learning more entertaining
Just as an engaged employee is likely to work hard and be more productive, it seems the same is true for students.
How can technology make classroom exercises more engaging and entertaining?
For a start, technology makes it easier to gamify class activities. When you have access even to the more basic tools such as Google Maps or Google Earth and a projector, you can create dynamic lesson plans for students which test their knowledge beyond the confines of a textbook.
Real-world experience is arguably what’s missing from the traditional classroom experience. Instead of reading words on a page, students can now see the Pyramids of Giza from a first-person perspective or take a virtual tour of a volcano.
Moving forward, the immersion will only become more detailed with the rise of AR and VR. 88% of student respondents believe that AR and VR will make learning more entertaining, and when studying becomes fun, it’s seen as less of a tedious chore.
To train students for the workplace, introducing engaging and interactive online materials and resources is one of the best ways to prepare them for the future world of work.
Employee Monitoring to Support Teacher Accountability
Another way to implement technology to great effect in the field of education is to use computer monitoring software to increase efficiency behind the scenes.
With remote work software like Insightful, headteachers can pull back the curtain on teacher productivity and access benefits of monitoring performance such as the following:
- How much time department heads spend on various tasks
- Whether teachers are showing up on time for their classes
- Which apps are most useful for teachers and which ones aren’t used often
Schools and higher education institutions can monitor web usage at work and use the data they collect from employee activity tracker software to create an environment of accountability. They can share the work tracking data with teachers and department heads to ensure that everyone is aware of how much time is spent on everything from homework grading to individual classes.
This workplace monitoring can help create a culture of data-backed decision-making, which in tandem with the considered introduction of the right technology tools, can propel the school or college into the digital age.
Tracking employee performance with a pc activity tracker can also help you identify the top performers among the staff and reward top performance.