Tech based learning

Technology-Integrated Learning during COVID

When the pandemic stuck our school system, suddenly every school was forced to continue teaching learning online and teachers were forced to embrace technology. 

Technology prior to the pandemic was a tool that we used to enhance learning in any subject area. Technology no longer was the strategy that educators used to improve learning, it became the very channel and substance of education itself. Educators shifted to technology-centered education which developed a new level of engagement and diverse teaching strategies. The incorporation of technology into education during COVID changed the way how teachers and students gather, access, analyse, present and transmit information. More differentiated instruction was possible, particularly for students with special needs. Technology made learning more interactive and collaborative, helped learners to be more engaged with the material that they are learning and have trouble with. Also, it gave learners better access to resources. During the pandemic great strides were made in using technology by educators. I noticed how teachers used technology to help them create and present content and instruction that is interesting and relevant to learners. It was very evident that with increased access to learning resources, tools and information, learners were drawn deeper into a topic than ever before. They even directed their own learning.

With technology based online learning or hybrid learning, learners were provided with easy-to-access information, accelerated learning, and fun opportunities to practice what they learnt. It enabled students to explore new subjects and deepen their understanding of difficult concepts, particularly in STEM. Zoom boxes became the classroom walls. Google Docs replaced paper. Google Slides supplanted a marker-colored poster board for an oral presentation. Today technology has been wonderfully integrated into the teaching-learning process and I am sure it will stay with us long after the pandemic ends. Technology engages students, and as a result they spend more time on basic learning tasks than students who use a more traditional approach. Technology offers educators a way to individualize curriculum and customize it to the needs of individual students so all children can achieve their potential.

Technology also motivates students to learn. They look forward to having time on their devices to explore and learn things through websites, videos, apps, and games. Students can learn and have fun at the same time, which helps them stay engaged with the material. Using technology in classrooms has the potential to create increased student motivation, increased social interactions, positive outcomes, enhanced student learning, and enhanced student engagement. Technology is capable of unlocking keys of learning with all students.

Learning technology is an umbrella term that describes communication, information and technological tools used to enhance learning, teaching and assessment. This may involve computer-based learning or multimedia materials used to supplement in-class activities.The following is the list of my favourite free or low-cost educational technology tools that are very effective in the classroom. The trick to using technology tools successfully is to find what works easily for you. I have found that each of these tools addresses specific needs that I wouldn’t have been able to fill on my own.

Nearpod is one of my favourite classroom tools because it allows teachers to insert engagement questions, assignments, and quizzes directly into lectures or media, whether in the form of a slide presentation or a video. The tool has a rich collection of media and lesson plans to draw from or teachers can create and adapt their own. Nearpod has many teacher-ready virtual reality experiences/lessons that can be controlled by the teacher while students follow and explore on their own devices. My class exploded with engagement as we visited the pyramids in Egypt and explored hieroglyphics within the Tomb of Ramesses. This is such a unique tool, but it is most effective when you have multiple iPads in your classroom. The Nearpod presentation appears on student devices and is controlled by the teacher’s device. There are multiple ways it can be used. It is terrific for formative assessment, as there are many interactive features.

Padlet is a wonderful, simple, tool that is great for collaborating. Think of it as a large bulletin board. Anyone with the link can place a post-it note on the bulletin board. The post-it note can include a note, a picture, a video, or a website. I’ve used Padlet for teacher book studies and anything that I want students to collaborate on.

Seesaw is an interactive online portfolio for students that privately connects parents. Students can annotate pictures, post videos, caption posts with audio, and easily post to their account from many, many other apps. Teachers are able to approve or deny all student posts as well as student and parent comments that are posted. Teachers can post links, assignments, and other digital media for students to use, which makes it easy to flip lessons. One huge perk of using Seesaw is that students can focus more on learning content rather than getting used to the technical aspects of many different apps.

Buncee is a tool for students to create, present, and share multimedia presentations. It is very user-friendly, and students are able to create beautiful designs. We’ve used them to publish writing, create posters, and to present information.  I have created Buncee presentations for a number of professional development sessions I’ve led.

Green Screen technology projects provide students with everything they need to foster 21st-century skills, specifically the 4C’s of creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. By recording students (or anything else) in front of a green background, students are later able to change the green to any background they choose. In addition, it is simple enough for elementary age students to master, allowing them to focus on telling their story instead of worrying about the technology. This technique works wonderfully for reader’s theater, student-written plays, newscasting, biographies with a realistic setting, and stop-motion animation.

Floop is a free tool for teachers allows you to quickly and simply offer direct feedback on any assignment your students turn in. Plus, there is a Peer Review feature that empowers students to support each other. This has been a game-changer this year and I anticipate it will be for years to come.

Social Media for Classrooms: I am an advocate for allowing students to publish for the world instead of just sharing their work with me or filing it in a folder. Obviously, social media is a very general tool, but that is because it is important to find the social media platform that works best for your needs and purpose.

While we know technology can’t replace effective teachers, it can greatly enhance instruction when used appropriately. These resources are just a few tools that can help propel students into 21st-Century learning in ways that traditional instruction cannot.