Oliver FisherJune 21, 2017
How to Engage the Classroom with Technology
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In January, we shared an article on our blog titled 5 Student Engagement Tips to Kick-Start 2017. This time, we're back to share 5 more methods to help you engage the classroom, with a specific focus on how educators can use technology to enhance learning and boost student interaction.

Developments in technology present both challenges and opportunities for education professionals and students. However, Parents seem to have mixed feelings about the growing influence of technology on their children.

It was recently reported that both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs limited their children's use of devices as adolescents).

A 2016 Edgenuity-sponsored survey revealed that 91% of middle and high school teachers agreed with the following statement:

"Technology provides a greater ability for teachers to tailor lessons and homework assignments to the individual needs of each student".

Yet, only 16% gave their school an A grade for implementation of technology. Elisha McNeil created an infographic for the Education Week Blog that highlights some of the other findings of the study.

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This infographic demonstrates how the larger institution's implementation process significantly affects the technology experiences of educators and learners. A lower-rated implementation process translates to lower-quality engagement through technology. This process often depends on many factors outside of the control of educators, affecting the amount and type of technology available in the classroom.

We've aimed to gather easy-to-implement ideas with accessible tools to help educators jumpstart engagement. Along with being simple to put into practice, the following tips are suitable across many age demographics with proper adjustments.

Continue below to read our favourite classroom technology tips!

1. Gamification

With children mastering technology at a young age, it is a natural transition to use gaming techniques in the classroom. This method of engagement is particularly useful for K-12 educators, as many students are already using their brains to game at home and with friends. A free tool like ClassBadges can make for friendly, fun competition as students are awarded badges for learning experiences. Classroom response systems (CRS) can be used to turn quizzes into lively competitions between individuals and teams.

Check out the International Society for Technology in Education's article "5 ways to gamify your classroom" for more gamification techniques to try with young learners.

2. Special Guests

Digitally hosting guests in the learning environment is a tool that works well for learners of all ages. You can use free products like Google Hangouts and Skype to bring experts and other class groups into your classroom.

The "We Are Teachers" blog has a great list of ideas on how to use Google Hangouts in the classroom.

This activity is especially easy to implement because students do not necessarily need to have their own devices to participate. "Hosting" guests in the classroom is an exciting activity for students - it enhances their learning by exposing them to outside knowledge and opinions. Professors could even consider seeking out professional and academic webinars for their undergraduate and graduate students to take part in, whether in or out of the lecture hall.

3. Virtual Trips

Along with bringing guests to class, teachers can also take their students on field trips using technology. Creating interactive maps with multimedia content such as photos and street-level views allows students to synthesize and solidify what they are learning through their readings and lectures. It expands the classroom, allowing learners to transport themselves anywhere in the universe to gather knowledge.

4. Gathering Feedback

Asking students to provide feedback on their learning experiences in the classroom benefits them and the instructor. Students increase their learning through reflection while instructors are able to better assess the materials and lesson design. Using technology rather than more traditional methods of data collection allows for live and immediate responses to prompt discussion, if desired.

Using technology also enables students who typically do not feel comfortable speaking or who are confused about a particular topic to have their voices heard.

To do this, you can use polling and quizzing solutions such as Glisser. With Glisser, you can insert various question types into your presentation and choose whether or not to display the results live. It's important to have systems to track this feedback and utilise changes, as well.

5. Collaborative Projects

Although students may cringe at this technique, group collaboration is another fun way to promote engagement in the classroom. Technologies like Google Drive are great for facilitating group research, writing, and presentation projects. These projects can be worked on in or outside of the classroom. They can be short in duration or require work over an entire term. As with all of the options, there is a lot of versatility in this idea.

I hope this article has been helpful, and you have taken away some new ideas. If you're already using the tips above, or have any others we should include in this article; please get in touch.

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