With the right technology-driven approach, educators can enhance learning for all students. Over recent years, educators all over the world have tried countless ways of integrating technology in the classroom. Some strategies work better than others, but the key to finding what works best may come down to starting with the right pedagogical approach.
Ask “How”, Not “What”
When educators approach using technology in the classroom, there can be a tendency to dive right into what technology or devices in particular will be used. However, when the goal is to truly enhance pedagogy, this may not be the best way to approach things. Experts suggest that the question educators need to be asking is “how should I integrate technology in the classroom?” rather than “what technology should I use?”
The key to designing a technology-driven approach to pedagogy is focusing on needs in the classroom or needs of students that can be met using technology. Concentrating on the tech first can pull the focus off of the concrete benefits that students will experience. Instead, by identifying specific needs first, educators can design a tech-driven approach with clear goals.
For example, a history teacher may be having consistent trouble getting students interested in learning about the past. Virtual reality would be a great tool for addressing this challenge by allowing students to experience history and historical places from an immersive, first-person perspective. Experts have stressed the importance of embracing change and imagination in education in order for schools to grow through challenges. Trying out new technologies, such as VR, with clear goals in mind is an excellent way to accomplish that.
Engagement and Communication
There are some specific challenges and aspects of pedagogy that technology is particularly useful for improving. While technology can’t solve every problem a teacher may face in the classroom, it can be the perfect tool for addressing certain things. Some prime examples include engagement, interactivity, communication, visibility, and goal setting. These specific areas of education are well suited to the benefits that technology can offer.
For example, some students may have an easier time setting and achieving goals if they can actively check in on their progress. Rather than handing out paper print outs of students’ grades once or twice a semester, teachers can use technology to give students a place where they can check their grade online any time they want. This allows students to see how certain changes in study habits or learning strategies impact their overall performance in class.
Similarly, one of the most popular goals of using technology in the classroom is improving student engagement. Technology lends itself well to “gamification” in learning, turning otherwise boring or uninteresting tasks into a game with rewards for progress. The popularity of apps like Kahoot are a testament to students’ enthusiasm for gamification in learning. It’s a great way to improve engagement in virtually any subject.
Implementing New Technologies
With the right goal and devices in mind, educators will also need a clear path of implementation for new technology-driven pedagogical approaches. There are many ways to go about rolling out new technology in a classroom or school district. However, research suggests some tactics may help smooth the process out.
One in-depth study from Brookings detailed a 3-step process for implementing any new technology strategy in education: diagnosis, evidence, prognosis. Educators begin by “diagnosing” the challenge or goal they want to address with their technology-driven learning approach. After crafting a program around that technology and goal, they run a pilot program. This could be a test run of the new technology in one classroom or one grade level, for example. During this program, educators collect feedback from students, parents, and teachers to see the “evidence” for how the program performed. Finally, these results are carefully analyzed before the program is scaled up for more students and classes.
In addition to building a structured approach like this for gradually rolling out new technology, it is also important to ensure that teachers have the support they need. Classroom instructors need to feel confident that they understand exactly how to use the new technology at their disposal for a technology-driven approach to pedagogy to work.
Powering Student Growth with Tech
Technology has massive potential for education that continues to grow year after year. From robust distance learning to exciting new experiences in the classroom, technology-driven approaches to pedagogy can truly transform learning. By designing these new approaches in the right way, educators can ensure that they address the real needs of their students with the right kind of technology. With a strong strategy in hand, teachers can harness the potential of technology to power student growth.