Technology and education are becoming virtually synonymous. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 97 percent of teachers had one or more computers located in the classroom, and Internet access was available for 93 percent of classrooms in America. The ratio of students to computers in the classroom is 5.3 to 1. Applications, smartphones, SMARTboards, new hardware and more advanced software has driven advancement of our lesson plans, maximized our reach as a teacher, and augmented the overall student learning experience.
With new advancements budding everyday in educational technology, how can you keep them straight? We have listed our top five technologies for teachers, from K-12 and beyond:
Google Moderator: This Google application is to create a meaningful conversation from individuals’ questions, ideas, and suggestions. Teachers can post questions or comments to a moderated discussion, and students can answer. Once comments are posted, students can “vote” for the idea, or comment on a post. Comments can then be sorted based on the number of votes it received, and can be posted anonymously or require a Google account. Teachers can use this technology to create an interactive dialogue with students; and teachers from grade-school level to college can utilize this tool.
Motivator: Every student needs a little motivation now and again. Motivator is a easy-to-use application where users to create a motivational poster or document. Upload a photo, supply a headline and short text, and in a matter of minutes you can create an inspirational poster. Teachers can print these out and hang them up in their classroom, use them as handouts, in multimedia presentations, or post onto online portals.
iEARN: The International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) allows classrooms to connect on international projects with other students from around the world. There are more than 30,000 schools from more than 130 countries. iEARN empowers teachers and young people to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies. Expand the minds of your students by using this cool new communication tool.
Webcams & Teleconferencing: With the advance of higher bandwidth, real time webcasts have become a reality for online courses. Some schools still set most of their distance learning around attending formal classes, and allow this method as a supplement. Other instructors choose to use up such heavy bandwidth only for specific lessons, allowing their connection to students to be forged. Lectures that do not change need not have all the students watch at once, so schools now make them available to download as needed. Downloading is quickly replacing mailed audio and video recordings as a preferred media delivery method. Webcams and teleconferencing have added a new element of interactivity to the virtual classroom that cannot be matched.
Mobile Apps & Augmented Reality: Mobile apps may present the biggest challenges for colleges with growing online degree programs. Augmented Reality (AR) apps are the newest development in educational technology. Teachers can use augmented reality for mobile testing, for example asking questions about objects on museum visits or historic tours. They could allow astronomy students to point a device at the night sky for the screen to identify stars, or outline constellations. Common availability of such apps may still be out of reach, although developers are working on making it more widely available.