The benefits of using technology in the classroom are huge! We live in a world that is moving fast, using technology in education is now NOT an option, it is essential.
Our students we teach live in a world dominated by devices and apps, this is their window into the world around them. From social life to learning, the digital world is where they exist.
This is NOT going to go away!
In fact, this will become more and more prevalent in the coming years.
As teachers, we can either embrace this and succeed or ignore it and fail.
Sorry to be blunt but that’s the truth. If you want your students to be engaged and to take ownership over their learning, we need to adapt our practices and live in their world, not expect them to adapt theirs to live in ours.
Need more convincing? Read on.
What are the Benefits of Using Technology in the Classroom?
Let’s find out!
1. It Can Enhance Interaction and Increase Student Engagement
Experts say that using technology in teaching and learning can increase children’s engagement in class, more than an old school textbook can as devices and apps are where today’s students live their lives.
This is a benefit for all learners as apps cater to all levels of ability and use various teaching methods to support learning. Apps also help to give teachers new ways of teaching the same thing, from games to virtual field trips.
In turn, these activities create an opportunity for more active participation in the learning process than through more traditional approaches.
The National Math and Science Initiative found that the introduction of blended learning styles helps keep students focused for longer periods of time and can increase engagement, especially for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects.
In addition to this, mobile learning has more room for personalization than most paper or physical resources and therefore can be tailored to suit a particular child’s needs.
Learning is no more passive activity, it’s active with applications. For example, like video games, level-based apps can foster a determination to get to the next level. Combining education with entertainment can cause students to forget they are doing school work, boom, ninja learning!
2. Mobile Apps Help in Systematic Learning
Classroom apps can be arranged in such a way that, it promotes not only a craving for learning as the child can track how far they’ve come and attempt to advance through the levels.
In 2013 a study by PBS LearningMedia found that 74% of teachers were in agreement that technology enables them to solidify learning in their lessons. The Huffington Post also found that “78% of Kindergarten through Middle School teachers agree that technology has had a positive impact on their classroom.”
3. Mobile Learning Is Accessible Any Time, Any Place
This means that teachers can turn to it to engage a learner at any point during the school day.
Arguably more important than this, however, educational apps make it possible for children to continue these activities when they get home, not just in the classroom. Indeed, anywhere can be a classroom.
App learning can be done anywhere, therefore, it is not limited to in-school time. In fact, many educational app developers have millions of downloads; students are using them outside of school. Incorporating mobile apps in class can increase engagement and reduce misbehavior both in class and at home….Double win!
You never know, you could actually get an entire class to submit a homework assignment…the holy grail right?
Many apps also have embedded videos that explain topics more clearly than a textbook (the same textbook they will forget, lose or not be bothered to carry around). Also, using less paper is more environmentally responsible. (See point 8).
It is also possible that collaboration will increase as students can use these devices as research tools during projects and group work (I have seen this with my own eyes in my classes, collaborating on apps is how today’s students communicate, this literally puts learning in their own environment. Students can also use mobile applications to access a vast array of eBooks, pdf and other online materials.
Mobile education apps make it easier for students to research study material because we all know that they still can’t remember how to use a book index/contents page!
In-classroom internet research allows teachers the added benefit of teaching students how to effectively search for reliable content rather than using content they find that is not aimed at the appropriate level. How many times have you seen student work with paragraphs of copy/pasted content that they don’t actually understand (usually because they accessed a university website!)
4. Technology Offers New Learning Techniques
Engagement can be increased by introducing varied learning methods and because of the ever-increasing amount of educational mobile apps, you can do just that with ease and without a huge cost as many apps are free for students to download.
Research into learning theories suggests that games and puzzles, that many apps use, can stimulate brain activity. This may offer pupils who have ‘hit a wall’ within a certain area of learning a chance to tackle that challenge from a new direction.
5. Apps Can Enable Teachers to Decrease Their Paperwork
It’s a relief to get all the mundane tasks done with a few taps along with cutting down the time spent on data collection. As you engage more students through classroom apps and by using EdTech in teaching and learning, the more data you will collect. Thus you will be able to achieve a better work-life balance.
Primarily this data can be used to gauge the learning difficulties faced by the student and modify the instructions to then customize the learning for a better outcome.
Classroom apps can also serve as a tool to showcase data to school leaders who conduct teacher’s evaluations. The data collected by the mobile app can demonstrate how a pupil is progressing.
Big Data is an example of a program that is currently used by large mobile app development companies to quickly identify subjects that are hard to grasp and students that are struggling within lessons.
6. Classroom Apps Can Benefit Parents
Technology in the classroom is not exclusively beneficial to the students and teachers, it can also be beneficial to parents, particularly in the sense of parent-teacher interaction.
For a variety of reasons, regular physical interaction between parents and teachers is becoming increasingly difficult. However, classroom apps provide one way of tackling this problem. Parent-teacher communication apps help in facilitating teacher responses to the queries from the parents regarding the development of their child.
These apps allow parents to message their child’s teacher, arrange appointments over an electronic calendar, and even hold video conferences. As teachers, we know that involving the parent in a child’s education is an important step to student success, and these apps can help make this a reality in the modern age.
In addition to this, there are also classroom apps which allow parents to track their child’s progress and how each app is helping their child to improve their skills such as reading and math.
Along with tracking progress, there are apps such as those in the Google Suite (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides) which allow working documents to be shared electronically (they can all be easily brought together through Google Classroom). These can be shared between student and parent for their carer to read through and offer advice on when they get the chance.
This is perfect for working parents who may not have the time to sit down and go through their child’s work with them at home but can still do this in their lunch break.
7. Students Can Utilize Their Downtime
A further benefit for parents is that educational apps offer an excellent way for their child to utilize their ‘downtime’. Most parents can relate to the image of a child begging to have more time on the iPad!
These apps allow for a compromise in which the child is happy to be playing on their mobile device whilst the parent can be guilt-free knowing their child is learning and learning new skills.
8. Classroom Apps Are Better for the Environment
Another aspect of mobile learning is one which benefits the wider world. Millions of trees are cut down every year to make paper resources for classrooms. If all schools were incorporating Edtech in teaching and learning where possible it would drastically reduce this damage to the environment.
Of course, we must recognize the importance of younger children learning to write with pen and paper but perhaps secondary school pupils could move to a more technological-based approach to their learning and recording.
9. Technology in School Can Be Used to Keep Staff and Pupils Alike Updated and Connected
There are some apps which can send out alerts about events, timetables, and other important information. Educational apps are the best way for children to stay connected with their teachers as they can send direct messages and get quick responses.
Apps can also allow you to carry out educationally related payments such as lunch money and library fines. It saves the effort to stand in a queue and pay the fees for various purposes at school.
Also, attendance-management apps can record the attendance of students, making it easier for both teachers and parents to keep track of the attendance of the children in their care. Similarly, apps can decrease the communication gap between pupils and the school; they can inform them about everything from new schedules to after-school activities.
Class calendars are a great way for teachers to share anything from the homework assignments to planned in-class activities. With a Google Calendar and Google Classroom, students can sign in and check the class information from anywhere – avoiding any stress about missing a task or homework project!
You can even include parents in the calendar so they can see what their children are meant to be working on.
The safety of students in school is, of course, a very high priority and technology can be used – if there is a dangerous situation on the school site – by school authorities to quickly alert students via their mobile devices and keep them away from the hazardous area. Also, it can make it easier for students to record suspicious behavior on the school campus anonymously.
10. Apps Can Ensure That Homework and Assignments Are No Longer Lost or Forgotten
For example, by using Google Drive for all writing assignments, students will no longer forget their homework (gone are the days of “the dog ate my homework”). Google Docs automatically saves the content practically every time changes are made to a document, so even if your computer bursts into flames, all your hard work is safe and sound in a digital storage facility.
Indeed, some schools have already adopted the system where students turn in their papers in a strictly digital format. Teachers can even set up push notifications to send their students reminders to do their homework.
Forgetting to do homework is common in students and smart notifications can go a long way to remind students towards their academic duties.
According to research, 86% of students showed improvement in math when they completed additional practice at night. Therefore, it is clear reminders could prove useful in helping students achieve their academic goals by prompting them to do more revision.
In fact, app developers confirm that push notifications are one of the best ways to get students to engage with educational apps.
11. Classroom Apps Enable Teachers to Further Differentiate Their Teaching
With a class of 20-30 pupils all with their own individual needs, it is very difficult for the teacher to engage with each individual in every lesson. This of course results in some students losing track in a lesson or struggling to grasp new topics having not mastered the previous one.
However, when a student utilizes ed-tech tools inside or outside of class, their time interacting with it is all their own. They can learn at their own rate as that session is dedicated to them and not multiple students at a time.
12. Education Apps Enable Collaboration Between Students
Technology also offers lots of opportunities for collaboration between students in the classroom. For example, by using Google Drive and Google Docs (in fact any of the Google Suite), students can work on the same document together at any time.
With features for annotating each other’s work and adding suggestions, pupils can continue to work collaboratively outside of the classroom too.
Google also offers another great way for students to collaborate with one another: Hangouts. This app facilitates group voice/video calls meaning group work can continue even when all members are at home.
Technology encourages collaboration between students in the classroom, in their city and even across the globe.
Students and teachers can interact in a virtual world; teachers can provide guidance and feedback within apps rather than carting stacks of books home (sounds good right?). I use Google classroom for all my home learning. It allows students to ask for advice when they are doing work rather than having to wait until they next see you. It might mean you can utilize dead time (e.g. in the grocery store queue) to give immediate guidance.
The reason that Google apps are the ones primarily mentioned in this post is that they are compatible with almost any device and include everything from Google Search, Images, Maps, and YouTube. They make their products for everyone to use, so they’re both simple to use and vastly compatible with everyone’s technology when you have a whole class of children or more this is of course essential!
Arguably the best part about Google Apps is that they are all free! You don’t need to pay for Gmail, Drive, Docs, Hangouts etc. Funding is probably the biggest obstacle many teachers face when it comes to implementing new technology in the classroom and so it is really important to use free resources wherever possible.
Speaking of money efficiency, the tablet is, in fact, a really smart investment. It saves space due to having the ability to fit thousands of textbooks in a single device.
A PBS survey found that 56% of teachers use websites regularly in their classrooms and an increasing amount are building their own sites to enable them to deliver their lessons. With services like Squarespace and Wix and indeed Google’s own sites, it is much easier and cost-effective than maintaining printed resources.
13. Classroom Apps Can Teach New Life Skills
Another great reason for using technology in the classroom is that it can teach students new life skills which they may not get in other traditional lessons. Skills like digital collaboration, productivity, leadership and communication.
There are also many useful practical skills that can be enhanced using technology including presentation and research skills.
14. Using Technology in the Classroom Prepares Your Pupils for Their Future Workplaces
Increasingly, mobile devices are used more in the workplace, experience using them for school work builds a student’s chances of being successful in their employability. CompTIA’s study showed that 9 out of 10 students indicated that using technology in the classroom would help prepare them for the digital future.
Technology advances are coming thick and fast and, as teachers, it is our responsibility to adapt, to change our methods to enable us to effectively teach the students of today.
15. Using Technology in Teaching and Learning Can Improve Knowledge Retention
As educational technology increases engagement in the classroom it stands to reason that knowledge retention is also increased. There have been studies that have shown this increase in retention is directly correlated to the use of technology, in fact, one study showed that from a group of eighteen second grade students, sixteen of them remembered more facts about a studied animal when producing a presentation featuring it.
In addition, the content presented in the mobile platform is often bite-sized and concise meaning children are not overwhelmed by too much information in one go and can, therefore, retain more of what they are learning.
16. No One Learns in the Same Way
Students have a range of different abilities. Digital applications provide brilliant opportunities for making education more effective.
For example, technology allows students to learn at their own pace, either taking things slower or allowing them to go in to a topic in further depth. Differentiation is made much easier with the tech resources that are available.
Similarly, students who have a disability that would normally prevent them from making progress using traditional teaching methods can use apps specifically designed for their set of needs.
Teachers can use technology to overcome barriers and deliver the same lesson in different ways. For example, show videos or invite students to play educational games.
17. Classroom Apps Accommodate Children With Special Needs or Disabilities
Learners who have a disability will benefit from the freedom educational apps will give them. We must remember that not all students can learn at a fast pace.
For example, almost all apps allow for individualized instruction. Students can learn according to their abilities and needs.
It is also important to note that children with special needs and disabilities are often eligible to funding which can be put towards specific technology which will benefit the individual.
This form of teaching is also great for the teacher because it gives them the time to work individually with students who may be struggling.
Educause found that many school age children prefer digital applications to be incorporated into their lessons, particularly if they are the same or similar to those they use in their personal lives. Students are already using these apps to connect with their friends, why not their teachers. The same survey found that 54% of students use at least two devices for school work.
18. Classroom Apps Encourage Creativity
The range of amazing apps and programs available can encourage creativity, allowing children to draw, compose music or make films with no extra tools required.
19. Assistance with Data Collection
Using technology in teaching and learning can also make data collection a lot easier in subjects such as science. For instance, students can take pictures of their work, take screenshots work they have done and save it all to cloud-based services such as Google Drive.
20. Digital Classroom Tools are Constantly Evolving
Finally, it is wonderful how technology is always improving and developing. Developers are continuing to come up with more fantastic apps that are specifically designed for the classroom. Huge amounts are being spent by huge companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple, developing not just apps but entire learning environments. The future of our classrooms will be vastly different from the ones we grew up in and have previously taught in.
This means that teachers should keep an eye out for new opportunities to better their teaching practice through the use of technology. Failing to teach in a students world will lead to disengagement and less progress made by students.