Adding technology to an existing curriculum can have tremendous benefits for both teachers and students. When used appropriately, online resources can increase student engagement, develop critical thinking skills, and help students collaborate more with their peers.With all of the available tools to choose from, how can a teacher evaluate which one might be the best fit for their classes? Below are some fundamental questions every teacher should ask before implementing any new technology.
1. Is it going to help my students learn?
Educational technology is only beneficial if it can ultimately help increase the ability for students to learn your material more efficiently. A recent survey found that ninety-four percent of students said digital learning technology has helped them retain new concepts, and another study proved the increase in A's and B's with the use of an engagement tool in class. It is essential for teachers to evaluate multiple engagement tools that can benefit students and their learning. If the technology has great bells and whistles but does not necessarily help students better understand the concepts, then teachers should re-evaluate the marketplace and keep looking for the best solution.
2. Is it going to help complement my teaching?
As a teacher, if you are implementing technology in class to benefit your students, it is crucial to find a tool that helps supports your teaching style. Many teachers currently use engagement tools in their class as a way of taking a break from lectures to reinforce a concept and check student comprehension. When students learn the basic concepts in class, it makes it easier for them to study later on, and teachers can move on to the next topic more seamlessly. Finding engagement technologies that help teachers track their students' progress over time is also essential. This way, teachers can quickly identify any outliers and give those students extra support as needed.
3. Will it help me teach more efficiently?
Teachers want to invest their time wisely, and rightly so. Implementing and using an engagement tool in class should not add extra work for the professor, but should instead make things simpler. For example, for teachers who would like to record student attendance in a class with 50 or more, manual sign-in sheets can be cumbersome and ineffective. Choosing a technology that can automatically track a student's attendance and participation in class will save both class time and data input time later on.
Some technologies like Squarecap are even able to flag any students who have logged in from outside of the classroom, and automatically report that attendance to the grade book. To find the right tool for you invest some time up front to evaluate the tools and make that they will save you time upon implementation.
4. Will it help with student communication?
Student response systems that allow teachers to ask questions to their entire classroom can significantly increase the amount of engagement from every student. Instead of relying on the bravest 4-5 students to raise their hand, a teacher can send a question to the entire classroom and instantly get a response from every single student. Beyond the ability to do live student polling, your response system should also be able to allow students to interact with teachers as well.
For example, the Ask & Vote feature within the Squarecap app enables students to ask questions to teachers via the tool directly and allows other students to view and vote on the questions asked. (Anonymously of course). Teachers can see student questions in or outside of class, reply in line, or answer top-voted questions in front of the entire class. Yes, students do need to have the ability to raise their hand to ask an important question, but in a class of 100 or more students, it is sometimes not realistic to have every student ask every question they might have to the whole group. A student-generated Ask & Vote allows the opportunity to address significant gaps in their content knowledge or language skills, without interrupting important class instruction.
5. Is the technology worth the price?
College students are already feeling financial pressure to pay for tuition and other related school costs. When adding a required technology to the syllabus, it is essential to research the details related to prices and find out if there might be another tool that can perform a similar function for less money. The inclusion of education technology should not add a significant increase to the student's debt, yet should be justifiable for the improvements in student success that the technology will bring.
Many technologies like Squarecap are free for teachers and offer both student and institutional pay-structure models. The best approach would be to evaluate the education technology and work with them on a pay-model that works best for your campus.
6. Does the technology offer adequate training and support?
Adding a new technological tool to your classroom can increase both student success and enjoyment of the class. It can also make your class more interesting for you to teach as well! However, merely creating a new account with an EdTech doesn't mean that it will produce dramatic results overnight.
Just as a well-designed curriculum takes time to develop and use, the use of a new tool must be thoughtfully implemented for it to have real benefits. Make sure that any technology you decide to use offers adequate training to help you and your students get started. You should be able to call or email an expert that can answer any of your questions at any point in the semester or even meet with you online or in person,
With so many available EdTech tools on the market, it is understandable that it can be overwhelming to find the tool that matches your needs. However, taking the time to answer these questions and research your options can make a big difference on how successful it will be when you decide to use one in your classroom.
Activate your three-week trial with Squarecap by signing up for a 30-minute demo at https://squarecap.com/book_a_demo.