Today’s primary and secondary students are extremely tech savvy, which is why implementing technology in the classroom has become a major focus (and in some cases a major obstacle) for educators. The students in your classroom constantly use technology to communicate with each other and learn about the world around them. Integrating technology into the classroom creates learning opportunities that are more engaging, and sometimes more effective, than traditional teaching methods and principles. A 2012 pilot study by textbook publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt found that 78% of students scored “Proficient” or “Advanced” in subject comprehension when using tablets compared to 59% of students who relied on paper textbooks alone.
Developments in educational technology have facilitated the shift toward student-centered classrooms and dynamic project-based learning. Students who are allowed to actively explore real-world problems and challenges acquire a deeper understanding of the subjects they’re studying than they would by simply reading from a textbook. Technology helps turn students into explorers and investigators who are better able to engage with the topics you are presenting in the classroom.
Consider the types of technology you and your students currently have access to. How can you leverage those assets to build project-based learning into your lesson plans? If you are not sure where to begin, here are three easy ways you can integrate technology in the classroom:
A great way to integrate technology into the classroom is to have students conduct research online for various projects. There are many exciting ways to structure online research tasks. One extremely popular and effective online research project is called the Web Quest Model, an inquiry-oriented lesson in which most or all of the information comes directly from the web. There are thousands of Web Quest activities available online for you to implement in your classroom right away. You can also find templates online that make it easy for you to build your own Web Quest project for any subject and grade level.
An increasing number of classrooms have access to interactive whiteboards (IWB). If you have never used one, think of it as a rolling touchscreen whiteboard that can display websites, images, and videos. IWBs are excellent tools for engaging entire classrooms in an interactive lesson. A 2010 study by Marzano Research Laboratory that involved 85 teachers and 170 classrooms across the United States found that using IWBs was associated with a 16 percentile point improvement in student achievement. If your school or district doesn’t currently have the budget to purchase IWBs for teachers, refer to this collection of online grant resources for teachers from Scholastic to help secure funding for new classroom technology.
Tools like Prezi and Microsoft PowerPoint make it easy for students to create multimedia presentations and share their work to the class. Google Docs has a similar program that makes it easy for multiple students to collaborate on one multimedia project. With Google Docs, students can even work on the project from their laptops or tablets when they are at home. These collaborative tools make teamwork accessible and seamless, whether students are using the technology in the classroom or at home.
Online resources for using collaborative and interactive teaching tools are already plentiful. But to stay ahead of the curve and become an expert in integrating technology into the classroom, consider earning your Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. This degree will help you improve student outcomes while also advancing your own career in education. Discover the opportunities that await instructional designers and learn why a master’s degree in Learning Design and Technology is a good investment by calling 877-308-9954.
Check out the “How Educators Use Technology and Data to Guide Teaching and Learning” free eBook.