The benefits of using technology in the classroom are huge! We live in a world that is moving fast, using ICT in education is now NOT an option, it is essential. The students we teach live in a world dominated by devices and apps, this is their window into the world around them. From social life to learning, the digital world is where they exist. This is NOT going to go away! In fact, this will become more and more prevalent in the coming years.
As teachers, we can either embrace this and succeed or ignore it and fail. Sorry to be blunt but that’s the truth. If you want your students to be engaged and to take ownership over their learning, we need to adapt our practices and live in their world, not expect them to adapt theirs to live in ours.
Need more convincing? Read on.
1. It can enhance interaction and increase student engagement.
Experts say that using ICT in teaching and learning can increase children’s engagement in class, more than the traditional textbook can as interactive apps are great for stimulating the mind.
This is a benefit for all learners as apps are available for all types of skill levels and use a variety of teaching methods to support learning. Apps also help to give teachers new ways of teaching the same thing, from games to virtual field trips. In turn, these activities create an opportunity for more active participation in the learning process than through more traditional approaches.
Indeed, an article by the National Math and Science Initiative shows that blended learning styles keep students focused longer and makes them more excited to learn more, especially for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) subjects. In addition to this, mobile learning has more room for personalisation than most paper or physical resources and therefore can be tailored to suit a particular child’s needs.
Learning is no more passive activity, it’s active with applications. For example, level-based apps can create a determination to pass on to the next level. They also combine education with entertainment so that children do not always feel like they are learning for learning’s sake but can learn whilst having fun.
2. Mobile apps help in systematic learning.
Apps can be arranged in such a way that, it promotes not only a craving for learning as the child can track how far they’ve come and attempt to advance through the levels.
A 2013 PBS LearningMedia study found that 74% of teachers agree that technology enables them to reinforce their lessons. The Huffington Post found that “78 percent of Kindergarten through Middle School teachers agree that technology has had a positive impact on their classroom.”
3. Mobile learning is accessible any time, any place.
This means that teachers can turn to it to engage a learner at any point during the school day. Arguably more important than this, however, educational apps make it possible for children to continue these activities when they get home, not just in the classroom. Indeed, anywhere can be a classroom.
App learning is not time-bound learning, its relaxed learning. Many popular educational apps have seen millions of downloads due to users opting to engage with them in their free time. Using apps in classrooms or even suggesting beneficial apps to help students retain new information could mean many choose to continue their studies outside of school.
In fact, if an app is engaging and valuable, it could have students more than happy to receive some extra homework! Rather than a sheet of paper with quadratic equations to get through, an interactive app that includes the same questions with introductory explanations and advice on how to improve could be far more valuable to a pupil’s learning. Not to mention, using less paper-based study aids is sure to help the environment! (See point 8).
Apps are portable and convenient, enabling students to learn whenever they feel like it. No longer do they have to haul around crumpled textbooks or sift through notes to find what they’re looking to review. Instead, they have instant access to materials. Apps also allow pupils to take their learning into their own hands so they can study and test themselves at any point in the day, often without Wifi if an app has downloadable content.
It is also possible that collaboration will increase as students can use these devices as research tools during projects and group work. These days, mobile applications can help students to access a vast array of eBooks, pdf and other online materials. These applications make it easy for the students to search the appropriate study material at the click of a button, rather than trawling through endless books in a library (which most students won’t do anyway).
The Internet gives students instant access to answers beyond what’s in their textbooks. The gift of the internet to the classroom gives teachers the chance to give their students a holistic view of any given subject while still giving students guidance to find the right sources. In-classroom internet research gives teachers the opportunity to teach their students how to assess the quality of the information they find online while removing the one-sided restrictions of a textbook.
4. Technology offers new learning techniques.
New learning techniques create an opportunity to move away from the somewhat monotonous learning patterns of book learning; by contrast, apps add an element of fun and involvement to the learning process, thus increasing student engagement.
Research suggests that through games, puzzles or other challenging tasks, app learning stimulates the brain cells to actively metabolize the input unleashing a new perspective. This may offer pupils who have ‘hit a wall’ within a certain area of learning a chance to tackle that challenge from a new direction.
5. Apps can enable teachers to decrease their paperwork.
It’s a relief to get all the mundane tasks done with a few taps along with cutting down the time spent on data collection. As you engage more students through classroom apps and by using ICT in teaching and learning, the more data you will collect. Primarily this data can be used to gauge the learning difficulties faced by the student and modify the instructions to then customise the learning for a better outcome.
Classroom apps can also serve as a tool to showcase data to school leaders who conduct teacher’s evaluations. The data collected by the mobile app can demonstrate how a pupil is progressing. Big Data is an example of a programme that is currently used by large mobile app development companies to quickly identify subjects that are hard to grasp and students that are struggling with in lessons.
6. Classroom Apps can benefit parents.
Technology in the classroom is not exclusively beneficial to the students and teachers, it can also be beneficial to parents, particularly in the sense of parent-teacher interaction.
For a variety of reasons, regular physical interaction between parents and teachers is becoming increasingly difficult. However, classroom apps provide one way of tackling this problem. Parent-teacher communication apps help in facilitating teacher responses to the queries from the parents regarding the development of their child.
These apps allow parents to message their child’s teacher, arrange appointments over an electronic calendar, and even hold video conferences. As teachers, we know that involving the parent in a child’s education is an important step to student success, and these apps can help make this a reality in the modern age.
In addition to this, there are also classroom apps which allow parents to track their child’s progress and how each app is helping their child to improve their skills such as reading and maths. Along with tracking progress, there are apps such as those in the Google Suite (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides) which allow working documents to be shared electronically (they can all be easily brought together through Google Classroom). These can be shared between student and parent for their carer to read through and offer advice on when they get the chance. This is perfect for working parents who may not have the time to sit down and go through their child’s work with them at home but can still do this in their lunch break.
7. Students can utilise their downtime.
A further benefit for parents is that educational apps offer an excellent way for their child to utilise their ‘down time’. Most parents can relate to the image of a child begging to have more time on the iPad! These apps allow for a compromise in which the child is happy to be playing on their mobile device whilst the parent can be guilt free knowing their child is learning and learning new skills.
8. Classroom apps are better for the environment.
Another aspect of mobile learning is one which benefits the wider world. Millions of trees are cut down every year to make paper resources for classrooms. If all schools were incorporating ICT in teaching and learning where possible it would drastically reduce this damage to the environment. Of course, we must recognise the importance of younger children learning to write with pen and paper but perhaps secondary school pupils could move to a more technological based approach to their learning and recording.
9. ICT in school can be used to keep staff and pupils alike updated and connected.
There are some apps which can send out alerts about events, timetables, and other important information. Educational apps are the best way for children to stay connected with their teachers as they can send direct messages and get quick responses.
Apps can also allow you to carry out educationally related payments such as lunch money and library fines. It saves the effort to stand in a queue and pay the fees for various purposes at school. Also, attendance-management apps can record the attendance of students, making it easier for both teachers and parents to keep track of the attendance of the children in their care. Similarly, apps can decrease the communication gap between pupils and the school; they can inform them about everything from new schedules to after-school activities.
Class calendars are a great way for teachers to share anything from the homework assignments to planned in-class activities. With a Google Calendar and Google Classroom, students can sign in and check the class information from anywhere – avoiding any stress about missing a task or homework project! You can even include parents in the calendar so they can see what their children are meant to be working on.
The safety of students in school is, of course, a very high priority and technology can be used – if there is a dangerous situation on the school site – by school authorities to quickly alert students via their mobile devices and keep them away from the hazardous area. Also, it can make it easier for students to record suspicious behaviour on the school campus anonymously.
10. Apps can ensure that homework and assignments are no longer lost or forgotten.
For example, by using Google Drive for all writing assignments, students will no longer forget their homework (gone are the days of “the dog ate my homework”). Google Docs automatically saves the content practically every time changes are made to a document, so even if your computer bursts into flames, all your hard work is safe and sound in a digital storage facility.
Indeed, some schools have already adopted the system where students turn in their papers in a strictly digital format. Teachers can even set up push notifications to send their students reminders to do their homework. Forgetting to do homework is common in students and smart notifications can go a long way to remind students towards their academic duties.
According to research, 86% of students showed improvement in maths when they completed additional practice at night. Therefore, it is clear reminders could prove useful in helping students achieve their academic goals by prompting them to do more revision. In fact, app developers confirm that push notifications are one of the best ways to get students to engage with educational apps.
11. Classroom apps enable teachers to further differentiate their teaching.
With a class of 20-30 pupils all with their own individual needs, it is very difficult for the teacher to engage with each individual in every lesson. This of course results in some students losing track in a lesson or struggling to grasp new topics having not mastered the previous one. However, when a student utilises ICT inside or outside of class, their time interacting with it is all their own. They can learn at their own rate as that session is dedicated to them and not multiple students at a time.
12. Education apps enable collaboration between students.
Technology also offers lots of opportunities for collaboration between students in the classroom. For example, by using Google Drive and Google Docs (in fact any of the Google Suite), students can work on the same document together at any time. With features for annotating each other’s work and adding suggestions, pupils can continue to work collaboratively outside of the classroom too.
Google also offers another great way for students to collaborate with one another: Hangouts. This app facilitates group voice/video calls meaning group work can continue even when all members are at home. Students can practice collaboration skills by getting involved in different online activities. For instance, working on different projects by collaborating with others on forums or by sharing documents on their virtual learning environments.
Technology can encourage collaboration with students in the same classroom, same school and even with other classrooms around the world.
Collaborative learning through mobile devices helps a student in understanding information as they can pose questions to their teachers, post status updates regarding that day’s lessons or homework. Students or teachers can engage or reply to students facing difficulties with any topic. All these interactions and updates can be used by the teacher to improve the next day’s lesson plan and adjust the curriculum as per the students learning needs.
The reason that Google apps are the ones primarily mentioned in this post is that they are compatible with almost any device and include everything from Google Search, Images, Maps, and YouTube. They make their products for everyone to use, so they’re both simple to use and vastly compatible with everyone’s technology when you have a whole class of children or more this is of course essential!
Arguably the best part about Google Apps is that they are all free! You don’t need to pay for Gmail, Drive, Docs, Hangouts etc. Funding is probably the biggest obstacle many teachers face when it comes to implementing new technology in the classroom and so it is really important to use free resources wherever possible.
Speaking of money efficiency, the tablet is, in fact, a really smart investment. It saves space due to having the ability to fit thousands of textbooks in a single device. According to a PBS survey, websites are the most commonly used tech resources in the classroom with 56% of educators citing the use of a website. Some teachers even say that they create websites of their own to bolster their in-classroom lesson plans. The cost to develop and maintain a website is significantly less the investment in additional textbooks and workbooks and of course are also easier to update than a printed textbook.
13. Classroom apps can teach new life skills.
Another great reason for using technology in the classroom is that is can teach students new life skills which are essential for the 21st century. Students can gain the skills they will need to be successful in the future such as: collaborating with others, solving complex problems, critical thinking, developing different forms of communication and leadership skills, and improving motivation and productivity.
What is more, technology can help develop many practical skills, including creating presentations, learning to differentiate reliable from unreliable sources on the Internet, and writing emails. These are very important career skills that can be developed in the classroom.
14. Using technology in the classroom prepares your pupils for their future workplaces.
Working with mobile devices will not only be a part of their everyday lives as adults, but it will also be a vital part of many career paths. Knowing how to appropriately use mobile devices is an important aspect in this increasingly connected world. CompTIA’s study showed that 9 out of 10 students indicated that using technology in the classroom would help prepare them for the digital future. Indeed, jobs that may not have had a digital component in the past, may have one now.
Education shouldn’t just about memorising facts, it’s also about solving complex problems and being to collaborate with others in the workforce. Using ICT in teaching and learning prepares students for their future and sets them up for this increasing digital economy.
Technology changes by the minute, and as educators we need to keep up with the times in order to best prepare our students for this ever-changing world that we live in. Take time to learn about each element of educational technology that you incorporate into your classroom and its specific benefits for your pupils.
15. Using ICT in teaching and learning can improve knowledge retention.
Students who are engaged and interested in the things they are studying are expected to have better knowledge retention and, as technology can help to encourage active engagement in the classroom, this rate of retention can be increased.
Different forms of technology can be used to experiment with and decide what works best for your specific students in terms of retaining their knowledge.
In a recent study, eighteen 2nd grade students were challenged to complete a Powerpoint project about an animal. Sixteen out of the 18 students remembered more facts about the animal after completing the presentation. These results suggest that technology can help students remember what they learn. In addition, the content presented in the mobile platform is often bite-sized and concise meaning children are not overwhelmed by too much information in one go and can, therefore, retain more of what they are learning.
16. No one learns in the same way.
We all have different learning styles and different abilities. Technology provides great opportunities for making learning more effective for everyone with different needs.
For example, students can learn at their own speed, review difficult concepts or skip ahead if they need to. What is more, technology can provide more opportunities for struggling or disabled students. Access to the Internet gives students access to a broad range of resources to conduct research in different ways, which in turn can increase engagement.
Teachers can use technology to overcome barriers and deliver the same lesson in different ways. For example, show videos or invite students to play educational games.
17. Classroom apps accommodate children with special needs or disabilities.
Learners who have a disability will appreciate the flexibility, freedom of access and tailored curriculums of educational apps. We must remember that not all students can learn at a fast pace.
Every student has a different learning style and a different learning pace. Education apps used in classroom learning, allow students to learn at their own particular pace. For example, almost all apps allow for individualised instruction. Students can learn according to their abilities and needs.
It is also important to note that children with special needs and disabilities are often eligible to funding which can be put towards specific technology which will benefit the individual.
This form of teaching is also great for the teacher because it gives them the time to work individually with students who may be struggling. Having a mobile app for learning ensures they have an alternative mode of learning available at their fingertips that delivers knowledge at the pace they can easily grasp.
A study by Educause found that many students prefer to have technology integrated into their curriculum, particularly if they are the same tools that they use at home. Students are already comfortable using these tools to connect with other students, their teachers, and their school. In fact, the Educause survey found that 54% of students would typically use at least two devices simultaneously for school work.
18. Classroom apps encourage creativity.
The range of amazing apps and programmes available can encourage creativity, allowing children to draw, compose music or make films with no extra tools required.
19. Assistance with Data Collection.
Using ICT in teaching and learning can also make data collection a lot easier in subjects such as science. For instance, students can document using pictures, interactive maps or facility-specific content available on smartphones and tablets. Students can use the device features like voice recorders, camera, word processor, and interactive drawing tools to improve documentation of learning and feedback. They can share each element with others and allow meaningful interaction that enhances the depth of learning.
20. Digital Classroom Tools are Constantly Evolving.
Finally, it is wonderful how technology is always improving and developing. Even the ways students access and interact with information is always improving. Developers are conscious of the benefits of technology in the classroom, and a lot of money is being spent on developing mobile apps and e-Learning courses with proven results. This means that teachers should keep an eye out for new opportunities to better their teaching practice through the use of technology. Failing to teach in a students world will lead to disengagement and less progress made by students.
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