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Top five digital learning tools for students and teachers

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In this era of digital learning, technology plays a crucial role in the process of knowledge dissemination. Though there are thousands of applications/technology tools available in the market, only a handful of them is popular among the students and educators. We bring you five digital learning tools that can be used by teachers and students to expand their knowledge and make learning easy and fun.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a free web service designed for schools to help them with drafting, mass distribution and grading assignments in a paperless form. With Google Classroom, the learning process becomes extremely easy and is streamlined by way of sharing files between teachers and students. Here the students can post their queries on the lessons taught in the classrooms and receive answers from teachers and other students. Teachers can also post study materials for students to review at home. Google Classroom combines Google Drive for assignment creation and distribution, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for writing, Gmail for communication, and Google Calendar for scheduling.

Seesaw

Seesaw is a user-friendly learning portfolio tool that empowers students to independently document what they are learning and perceiving at school. Students can use photos, videos, drawings, text notes, links and also Seesaw's built-in audio recording and drawing tools to showcase their knowledge imbibed, and also explain how they got their answers. Student’s projects are stored securely in the cloud. Seesaw is made available on several different devices, such as Chromebooks, computers, iOS devices, Android devices as well as Kindle devices
through which parents can access their wards work.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit organisation that was conceptualised with the aim of building a range of online tools that can help students understand various lessons and concepts in an easier way. The Khan Academy produces short lessons in the form of videos both on the Khan Academy’s YouTube™ channel and on its hugely popular website www.khanacademy.org. Its website also includes supplementary practice exercises and materials for educators. With Khan Academy, you can learn everything for free. Lessons are presented by way of videos, interactive activities, and challenges. Hence teachers can make use of Khan Academy to supplement your teaching and also provide extra work to your students and help them with all or difficult content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPathshala

EPathshala a portal initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and National Council of Educational Research and Training was launched in November 2015 as one of the initiatives of digital India campaign. Epathshala is a gigantic educational reserve that hosts resources for teachers, students, parents, researchers and educators which is available on multiple platforms such as Web, Android, IOS and Windows platforms. The students can get access of all the required material, including textbooks, audio, video, periodicals and a variety of other print and non-print materials through ePathshala and can be downloaded by the user for offline use with absolutely no limits on downloads. ePathshala also allows users to carry many books as their device supports. These books allow users to pinch, select, zoom, highlight, navigate, share and make notes digitally.

Kahoot

It is a game-based learning platform where students can learn via games or, ‘Kahoots,’ which are multiple-choice quizzes. With this digital tool, which can be accessed via a web browser, teachers can draft extra questionnaires, discussions online with academic lessons. The material can be then projected in the classrooms and questions are answered by students while playing and learning at the same time. This not only enhances student engagement but also creates a dynamic, social, and fun educational environment.

 

 

posted Mar 13 in General by Richard

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+2 votes

Santa Barbara Unified School District is rolling out 1,200 iPads to three elementary schools and an alternative high school. Los Angeles Unified School District plans to put iPads in the hands of all 640,000 students. The goal is to improve learning through interactivity. First, school districts need to mitigate costs and get teachers on board.

High school teachers have a new disruption to deal with in the classroom: the coming of the iPocalypse. At schools across the country, teachers are being told they must use iPads, which will upend everything they've learned over the years about how to teach students. For some, it must feel like the latest, an ignominious blow to a profession often under siege.

Todd Ryckman and student at Santa Barbara Unified School District.

But Todd Ryckman, a former high school teacher and current director of technology at Santa Barbara Unified School District, sees the iPad in a more positive light.

Ryckman says he believes his small iPad pilot project will invigorate teachers, not dishearten them, and make their jobs easier. He says the iPad's simple touch interface and easy-to-use apps belie a device capable of revolutionizing the American classroom. Then there's this extra credit: iPads in high schools might help bridge the digital divide for low-income families.

"This is a fabulous new tool," Ryckman says.

An iPad in Every Backpack

After three years of planning, Santa Barbara Unified School District is finally rolling out 1,200 iPads to three elementary schools and an alternative high school this month. Eighty-five miles to the south, Los Angeles Unified School District is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar plan to put iPads in the hands of all 640,000 students by the end of this year.

The iPads-at-schools goal, of course, is to reshape the classroom and bring it into the digital age. The iPad promises to change the teacher from lecturer and instructor to facilitator of interactivity, whereby students take on a greater role in their learning.

Ryckman says teachers can finally get out of the game of getting students to memorize facts -- after all, Google and Siri make searching for facts easy -- and instead help students to think critically about those facts.

"The [board of directors] realizes where we are in history," says Ryckman, who taught high school history for 15 years. Everyone will have an iPad or a similar device in five years, he says, and Santa Barbara Unified School District students need to be ready for this future.

The future of iPads in high schools looks bright, yet iPad pilot projects should start now.

Textbook Publishers and MDM Vendors Buy-In

After initially dragging their heels, educational text book publishers are finally getting onboard with ebook versions. Introduced a couple of years ago, Apple's iBooks Author that lets teachers create multimedia textbooks has been gaining traction at Santa Barbara Unified School District, Ryckman says. Apple has made strides to combat theft with a service called Apple Care Plus that essentially bricks lost or stolen iPads. And mobile device management (MDM) vendors are coming out with tools aimed at high schools.

Last month, AirWatch unveiled Teacher Tools that gives teachers some control over student iPads, such as the capability to give exams in single app mode, send documents out to the class, and turn off the camera and disable screen shots so students can't pass tests to their friends.

However, many obstacles still remain on the road to iPads in high schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District, for instance, has run into security problems with students taking MDM profiles off of iPads. There are also rumours of iPads being broken and stolen, and closets full of iPads collecting dust while waiting to be distributed.

But the biggest barriers continue to be cost -- who's going to pay for all these iPads? -- and especially teachers refusing to embrace iPads. The iPad represents a paradigm shift in the classroom, Ryckman says, and that's uncomfortable for teachers who like to have complete control of their environment.

iPad Payment Plans

In order to overcome cost, or at least mitigate it, Santa Barbara Unified School District came out with two plans to put iPads in students' hands. In the first plan, students and their parents can opt to have an iPad handed to them, which they'll have to return at the end of the school year. They'll be on the hook for lost, stolen or broken iPads (although this might change as the plan evolves).

The second is a pay-to-own plan, in which the parents must pay the school a little bit every month en route to owning the iPad after three years. They're also on the hook for lost, stolen or broken iPads and don't own the iPad outright until the final payment. The school district, of course, also doesn't profit from this plan.

Both plans allow students to take iPads home, and parents are responsible for watching over them. If a student takes off the AirWatch profile, as students at Los Angeles Unified School District did, or violates any of the acceptable use policies, then the student will be penalized by not being allowed on the network.

Interestingly, the second plan is helping to close the digital divide. Ryckman says lower socio-economic schools began seeing high rates, in the 80 percent range, of parents wanting to participate in the pay-to-own plan, while the more affluent schools tended toward the first plan that puts the cost burden squarely on the school district.

"Parents who don't have $600 to plunk down at an Apple Store saw the pay-to-own plan as a way to provide this technology to their kids," Ryckman says. "Apple said that this would happen, but our board was still really surprised."

Getting Teachers to Own the iPad Program

Getting teacher buy-in is another big problem, one that Ryckman began solving well before the first student got even a whiff of an iPad. Ryckman was just starting to make the transition from high school teacher to director of technology when he set out to get iPads for teachers.

Ryckman convinced the Parent Teacher Association, and, later, a wealthy donor, to subsidize half the price of a teacher iPad. The teacher can purchase an iPad at half price, which would be their personal iPad, not the school district's, in return for a couple of concessions: Teachers must agree to take Ryckman's iPad classes and use the iPad to enhance teaching in their classrooms.

Ryckman's big bet paid off, and many teachers opted in. Since the iPads were their personal devices, teachers didn't feel threatened by them. Like most iPad owners, they used their iPads daily and quickly became familiar with the touch interface and enamoured with the exciting world of apps. They could see the iPad's potential to enhance their profession.

Some three years later, iPads are now being rolled out to students.

"We've had iPads in the hands of our teachers for a long time, well before students get them," Ryckman says. "I think other school districts have made a mistake by trying to do it at the same time."

This isn't to say, however, that the iPad is a teaching panacea. The platform still has limitations that need to be overcome. For instance, AirWatch's Teaching Tools lets teachers force student iPads to open a single, pre-determined app but not multiple ones, such as Calculator and Pages. It would also be nice if a teacher could blast out an app to students at the beginning of class and then take the app off the iPad when class ends.

Despite limitations, the iPad should be a boon for schools. You'd think Ryckman would want to roll out iPads to all 15,000 students at Santa Barbara Unified School District. But that's hardly the case. Many schools want iPads, he says, but they're not ready for them.

Ryckman interviews teachers at schools to gauge their interest, and he still sees some hesitancy. There needs to be nearly 100 percent commitment from teachers before an iPad rollout could be approved.

"This will only work if it's organic, not forced if there's teacher buy-in," he says.

As a teacher himself, Ryckman knows that the best way to get teachers on board is by appealing to their educational values, which is why he offers iPad classes. It'll take time, he says, but eventually, as educators, they know they need to change with the times.

"Teachers themselves tend to be lifetime learners," Ryckman says, adding, "One 25-year veteran teacher told me after one of my classes, 'This is the most excited I've been about teaching in a long time.'"

+2 votes

The promise of technology in the classroom earns high grades with students, teachers and administrators surveyed. But that digital education revolution is not an easy battle to win.

It's spring break, and high school students are eager to put away their books, binders, pencils and... iPads?

High school classrooms, teaching techniques and the very way students learn may receive a tech infusion in the near future. Already some schools across the country, most notably the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), are bringing in tablets and other technology.

"Technology is becoming pervasive in the classroom and playing a strategic role," says Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA.

CompTIA surveyed teachers, admins and students late last year and found that the idea of technology in the classroom is exciting for everyone. All tallied, 58 percent of schools with 1,000 or more students use some education technology, compared to 45 percent of smaller schools.

Putting Tech to the Test

Three out of four teachers believe technology positively impacts the education process. Many teachers are under duress from the pressure of raising test scores, April says, and so they see the use of technology helping them hit their goals and improve student achievement.

Three out of four principals and vice principals believe technology plays an important role in recruitment, particularly among millennials holding newly minted teaching credentials. April says young teachers who grew up with technology simply expect to work with tools such as tablets, not so many chalkboards.

Most importantly, nine out of 10 students believe the use of technology in the classroom will be crucial in helping them get jobs down the road. It'll also change the way they learn. Technology can remake the classroom experience from listening to lectures to learning interactively.

When most people think about technology in the classroom, they think about the tablet or, more narrowly, the iPad. Indeed, Comptia's survey found that the tablet is the number one technology that schools plan to invest in within the next few years.

Educational Technology Is More Than Tablets

But it's important to note that the tablet is only the tip of the iceberg, especially when considering the many cloud services in the education market. There are classroom management software and online curriculum for teachers, game-based learning software for students, and wireless network infrastructure and backend software, such as mobile device management, tying everything together.

Technology in the classroom isn't easy to do, and early adopters have had a rough learning curve. Educators across the country who dream of iPads are surely cringing as they watch missteps in the massive iPad rollout at LAUSD.

In the summer of 2013, LAUSD began a $1.3 billion effort to put an iPad in the hand of every student, teacher and admin. Since then, there have been rumours of stacks of iPads collecting dust, students using iPads inappropriately, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy resigning under pressure over his close ties with Apple and Pearson, (which provided the online curriculum) and, most recently, the FBI seizing documents related to the contract bidding process, Los Angeles Times reported.

Then there's this alarming stat from an outside firm hired by LAUSD to assess the project's progress last fall: Only one teacher out of 245 classrooms visited was using Pearson's online curriculum, Los Angeles Times reported. Four out of five high schools reported that they rarely used the iPads.

Apparently, the rush to get iPads in people's hands outpaced what teachers and students should do with them. Development and training lagged behind a common problem in large scale technology deployments. In fact, CIOs say change management and user training are often the biggest hurdles in a project.

You Can’t Stop the March of Tech

Nevertheless, the troubled LAUSD iPad project hasn't dampened enthusiasm to bring technology to the classroom.

"I don't think this one case is going to stop the march of time when it comes to different types of devices in the classroom," April says, adding, "If you're seeing pushback, it's because [teachers] are being handed a bunch of tools but not taught how to use them... that's not a technology problem."

This story, "Can tech help teachers teach and students learn?" was originally published by CIO.

in EdTech
+2 votes

5 Ways Teachers Are Integrating Technology into the Classroom

Teachers are developing lesson plans that may not be delivering the learning message that speaks to the times, as well as student learning abilities. How can we fix this issue? By integrating technology into the classroom.

Utilizing technology and implementing tech into lesson plans can ensure a more interactive class experience. Technology can reshape the future of education in big ways, forming new bonds between students and teachers, and with students and the entire learning experience.

“Technology helps change the student/teacher roles and relationships: students take responsibility for their learning outcomes, while teachers become guides and facilitators,” Edutopia explained. “Technology lends itself as the multidimensional tool that assists that process.”

Integrating technology into the classroom, however, can seem challenging for educators. This is due to the tech resources needed, like computers, tablets, software/apps, internet access, and more. With a bit of due diligence, these obstacles can be overcome and tech can be tethered with the learning experience in amazing innovative ways.

Let’s dive into the five ways teachers are integrating technology into the classroom, and how all educators can too.

1. Making Use of the Gamify Learning Experience

Gaming has become a huge part of students’ lives. Whether at home or in the classroom, the gamification of learning is a valuable strategy to pursue. Why? Students want to engage in learning in new exciting ways, and the gamify learning experience can do just that.

For example, you can have digital scavenger hunts in the classroom by challenging students with fact-finding questions that they need to complete online. This is a great way to integrate technology into the learning experience by making a game of it. Students not only learn how to research material online, but they also stay engaged — it is a win-win!

2. Building Lesson Plans Using Differentiated Instruction and Tech

Tailoring your lesson plans to your students is increasing in popularity. This type of teaching has been implemented using a differentiated instruction program that takes into account how students learn, their abilities, and more. For instance, by grouping students in a class based on their abilities can improve the effectiveness of the teaching message.

How can you implement this into your class via technology? The upswing in tailoring lesson plans to diverse learners has caused many companies to create software and online platforms, like Big Universe, that serve up large amounts of learning material aimed at filling the differentiated instruction gap within classrooms.

3. Develop a Class Website

There are a lot of fun ways to integrate technology into the classroom, but none as exciting for students as developing a class website. Students are often mystified by the power of the internet, and being online can be a serious eye-opener for them.

Building a class website is also affordable for educators since WordPress delivers free websites and themes you can use to make this tech-inspired classroom activity happen. The aim is to do it as a class in order to engage everyone, so from start to finish, have everyone involved.

A class website is also valuable for parents and education managers to see what is going on in class and how each student is developing. It is another technology inspired learning asset that is a win-win.

4. Create a Classroom Blog

Since you have a class website, why not go one step further and create a classroom blog. This is an excellent way to inspire students and keep them engaged in classroom activities. Blogs are also essential in teaching reading, writing, listening, using tech, and so much more.

Within your free WordPress website, create a blog section and create interactive activities for each blog. For example, you can start a blog with a title, topic, and introduction paragraph. Then each student will add a section while staying on topic and true to the overall blog story.

Once published, your students can read it all, listen to it, and share it with their parents. It is interactive in the classroom, as well as bringing the learning experience home.

5. Using Social Media as a Teaching Tool

If you have grown students, chances are they are on social media. This is good because you can leverage one of their favourite ways to spend time on learning. For instance, you can pull a video from YouTube and use it for Q&A sessions. Or you can use travel images of social media influencers as a discussion piece in class.

Are You Ready to Integrate Technology into the Classroom?

There are certainly more ways than one to integrate technology into the classroom. The above five ways are only the tip of the iceberg. The goal is to give students the digital tools they need to grow and be successful throughout their education. How do you integrate tech into your classroom?

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