Experts’ point of view
With so many educational technology options, here’s what schools should invest in
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of educational technology has grown exponentially to facilitate distance learning, and this shift has led to a boom in the educational technology sector, with a host of new software, mobile applications, and physical technologies entering the market to meet the growing demand and necessity.
The rapid shift to online education platforms has opened the door to more interactive learning approaches – teachers have had no choice but to get creative to keep children occupied in the comfort of their own homes. This is good news for those seeking to rejuvenate the education system: Ed tech allows educators to meet children’s diverse learning approaches through tailored learning programmes.
The challenge for schools now seems to be that they are spoiled for choice. With so many software, hardware, and technologies to choose from, educators and decision makers can quickly plunge into procurement. Moreover, these technologies often have exorbitant price tags, so it is important that you choose schools wisely.
For students: invest in interaction
One way to start is to focus on technologies that can make learning more engaging for students. One relatively recent trend here is “gamification,” which takes gaming elements and applies them to professional or educational activities.
Multisensory educational games, such as those that involve touch, movement, speaking, or even taste, can help students develop a positive relationship with education. By increasing perceptual and sensorimotor performance in tandem, these games can enhance motivation while improving academic performance. They also allow everyone to learn at their own pace, helping students with cognitive disabilities or learning differences thrive.
In the age of social distancing, technologies that enhance social-emotional learning can be especially useful. SEL can help students who have experienced a lack of social contact and who struggle to understand and express feelings, especially now that the world has opened up again.
In the physical classroom, SEL can involve adapting traditional games to relate students to their feelings, such as Jenga blocks with emotions written across, where students are challenged to describe the scenarios that make them feel those feelings. In a remote classroom, students can play games in which they have to match their sense of an animal face or emoji.
Web-based testing platforms such as Kahoot are another excellent resource for educators to foster such connections. At Kahoot, teachers design games and tests for their students based on multiple-choice questions. The games feature colorful graphics and attractive music and can be played anonymously so that students can participate without their performance affecting their grades. Students can also play collectively with their peers while working from home.
With the pandemic coming to a close, public schools stand at a crossroads, with the perfect opportunity to invest in technologies that enhance experiential learning, and the learning-by-doing process — even if it’s done digitally. These techniques encourage students to look at and interact with the world around them, whether by observing the photosynthesis process of plants or playing a scavenger hunt.
For Educators: Invest in Learning Analytics
Ed tech is not just about improving students’ experiences and lives; It also opens the doors to helping teachers tremendously as well. Learning analytics can make teachers’ jobs easier by using applications or software solutions to analyze data to discern learning patterns at the individual and classroom level. Analytics also helps teachers monitor individual students’ progress over time through evidence-based practices.
Some learning analytics programs can automatically rank students’ tests and then identify places where students collectively performed worse, for example, identifying knowledge gaps or confusion about a particular topic.
Other software can analyze perceptions of body performance, and monitor students’ movements via a webcam to help teachers determine whether students are engaged, distracted, or afraid, through measures such as whether students are avoiding eye contact with the teacher.
These analytics software is also ideal for promoting movement-based learning, which can be as simple as having students jump on the correct answer indicated on the floor. Some programs may include virtual reality programs to encourage physical play And Connect kinetics to educational outcomes to create active, more diverse students.
When used in conjunction with more interactive learning processes, learning analytics can facilitate the shift from distance learning to in-person education, and make the education process more effective during these unprecedented times.
Regardless of the method or location of students’ education, the most important priority for schools should be to invest in diverse technologies that meet a variety of student needs.
Simeon Ritalis, Ph.D., is Professor of Learning Design Models for Technology-Enhanced Lifelong Learning Environments at the University of Piraeus, Greece. Retalis co-founded Kines Inc. , a New York based, motion-based startup whose multi-sensory educational games help children with learning disabilities achieve better outcomes by combining academic learning activities with occupational therapy tasks.