Even in 2016, the discussion regarding the use of education technology in the (math) classroom rages on. Whatever people say, one thing is clear in every discussion: you either love tech, or you hate it.
Opponents of edtech believe introducing any variant of technology might replace the teacher, losing human interaction, human observation of students, and much needed social skills in the process. It is said to depersonalize teaching, and deskill the profession.
Those who love technology point at the potential benefits. Deep learning analytics give insights into student behavior, both inside and outside of the classroom. Content can be automated, and adaptive solutions provide truly personalized education, even in very large classrooms.
The Truth is in the Middle
At SOWISO we like to opt for the middle road. We believe technology can only work in tandem with well-trained teachers.
To us, this means that applying technology to the education sphere requires a complete overhaul. Many questions need to be asked before we can effectively implement education technology. For example, how do we use tablets, and where? Can our teachers aptly use IT applications? Do we have suitable digital content and enough technical support at our schools?
In many cases, it means not only a complete rethinking of how we teach, but also what we teach and why we teach it.
So to smoothen the process for those who are thinking of using education technology, and to hopefully form an argument for that much needed middle road, we have listed some tips for effective use of edtech.
Teach students to think, not memorize
Technology, and the internet, opens up a vast amount of information to your students. There are plenty of resourceful, credible, and educational websites your students can use to access a variety of information. Teach your students how to navigate the internet and think critically about the information they are presented with. With the right toolkit, your students can do their own research, learn how to take initiative, develop critical thinking skills. Most importantly, teach them how to navigate different opinions, and how to construct arguments.
A well organized e-portfolio stores the developmental story of your student, and can be easily shared and organized for presentation. But it can also be used to actively work, and submit tasks, or collaborate with fellow students. As a teacher, you can use it to give your student feedback, or communicate with the parent. When integrated well, it can store learning analytics directly linked to exercises and mock exams your students complete on other digital platforms. If you and your students use e-portfolios actively, they will promote life-long learning by teaching the user to constantly reflect on their work and learning progress.
Use Elements of Gamification
As many educators have known for a long time, students learn most effectively when they are engaged. The gamification of learning therefore has its roots way before the invention of the personal computer. Most edtech businesses today realize this, and incorporate achievement systems, player control, narrative, leveling up, or social connections into their solutions.
Collaboration and Peer Learning
You can use technology to have your students work together on projects, even when at home. They can easily give one another feedback, and share ideas. You can even upload and share the projects of your students with communities abroad, teaching them about communities in other parts of the globe. And we haven’t even mentioned the development of valuable intercultural skills! In other words, technology can open up worlds that remained closed before.
Use AI to check homework when possible
We all know one of the most heard complaints from teachers is that they don’t have enough time to teach. Many solutions, like SOWISO, address this issue, by automatically checking homework or exercises. Computers can give immediate feedback to your students’ inputs. They won’t just tell your students if their answer is right or wrong, but can also identify what is missing, and give suitable hints to get your students on the right path. This means teachers only have to act as a secondary reviewer, allowing them to use their valuable time teaching and supporting students.
Personalized & Adaptive learning
When you use digital exercises, the right software can analyze what type of problems individual students struggle with and what it already knows. For example, when the algorithm sees a student has mastered multiplication, but makes a lot of mistakes on problems featuring fractions, it will give the student more fraction exercises. It will continue to do this, until the student has proven to have mastered the subject at hand. Good solutions can randomize valuables, giving your students an endless supply of new problems to solve! Of course, well-trained teachers know to pay attention to individual differences as well, but when working together with technology, they can exponentially increase learning outcomes!
All of these are things teachers have been thinking about for many decades. They’re educational issues, made easy by using technology.
Just as with any other application, it only becomes truly effective if we know how to use it. For developers of education technology, this means we need to think extra carefully about how our solutions improve, or hurt learning experiences.
Let’s talk again soon!