Today, most of us recognize the important role technology plays in education. Decades ago, technology was often used for only enrichment activities or the occasional educational game or special project; now, technology is often woven into curriculum, instruction, and assessment on a daily or weekly basis across all grades. Currently, one of the major benefits of technology in education is its ability to serve as a vehicle or channel for students to discuss and collaborate as they learn. Students can use chatrooms, forums, videos, or podcasts to share what they’ve learned and receive almost immediate feedback from instructors or peers. As technology advances, even more exciting resources and tools become available to students. Take a look at some of the newest innovations in educational technology, and some cool ways you can implement them in your classrooms!
- Makerspaces: Makerspaces are physical locations where students share resources and knowledge, design materials, work on projects, and build products, often using a variety of digital tools to do so. Although makerspaces have been around for quite some time, they are becoming more relevant than ever as innovation and creativity play an increasingly prominent role in education. What used to be solely geared towards students in design or art is now being made available to a wider variety of students. Makerspaces emphasize self-directed learning, and can be used to introduce students to activities including digital fabrication (think 3-D printing), robotics, prototyping, woodworking, building, and more!
- Drones: Drones, or unmanned aircrafts or ships guided by remote control or onboard computers, can be great learning tools! From having students map out drone coverage and write about what the drones pick up during travel, to discussing changes in the environment experienced by a roving drone, the possibilities are endless.
- VR (Virtual Reality): For many, the term Virtual Reality brings to mind heading to the arcade for a cool 3-D game, or perhaps training for a top-secret military exercise. Today, it represents an exciting addition to students’ learning experiences. Virtual reality technology boosts excitement, engagement, and motivation in students, as well increases the possibilities and options for teachers. Students can use virtual reality technology to travel the world, study astronomy, or engage in simulation learning at the click of a button. Google Expeditions/Google Cardboard is the one of the hottest products on the market when it comes to Virtual Reality exploration.
- Pokémon Go: You may be thinking, “The goal is keep students AWAY from ‘distractions’ like this.” But not so fast. This GPS-based mobile device game could in fact be used to heighten the learning experience. How? Students can participate in activities like analyzing “Pokédex” information to strengthen math skills, or simply use the GPS technology as a fun way to brush up on their geography knowledge and become more familiar with mapping and their environment. Students can also write about their Pokémon capturing experiences.
- STEAM Coding Games/Apps: You’ve likely heard of STEM, but have you heard of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)? Effective educators and instructors understand that creativity plays an important role in learning. Resources like Osmo, Raspberry Pi, and Bloxels work to enhance skills in drawing, design, music, and more, and serve as great aids for the traditional learning process. These tools also incorporate art into computer coding and programming.
- Tools for Formative Assessment: Formative tools re crucial in monitoring the learning progress of students as well as for providing feedback to teachers about their methods. They provide students with meaningful practice to build skills and knowledge without penalty, and the usage of animation and multimedia provide real-world content that can be exciting for students. You can find these tools via databases that carefully select and collect these formative assessment items in bulk, or you can even customize these items to create your own and assign to students!
Use these tech-savvy tools and resources to catapult your students’ learning experience, and watch the excitement spread! Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.