Technology has made its way into all aspects of our lives—and that includes K-12 classrooms.
With the move to remote learning in the spring due to COVID-19—and districts taking all kinds of approaches to opening their schools this fall—educators are recognizing the benefits of EdTech as a teaching tool more than ever. In our 6th Annual Educator Confidence Report (ECR), published in collaboration with YouGov, 73% of educators said the COVID-19 distance-learning experience has moved education closer to fully realizing the potential of technology in instruction.
In addition, half of educators say they feel confident in their ability to use EdTech resources in instructionally effective ways. But technology alone isn’t enough for instruction. In the survey, 61% of teachers said they worry policymakers will increasingly view EdTech as a replacement for teachers. ICLE Associate Partner Weston Kieschnick notes in his tweet below that face-to-face instruction should (and will) remain critical in the future.
Online teaching is NOT the future of education. It’s simply a necessary part of our present.— Weston Kieschnick #BoldSchool (@Wes_Kieschnick) October 11, 2020
The future of education is in the realization that our most important lessons can’t be replicated exclusively online.
People need people, & that requires proximity.#BoldSchool #edchat
Online teaching may be temporary for many educators, but there will always be ways to integrate technology into lessons. Even so, technology can’t replace great teachers.
Current EdTech Trends
Let’s take a look at the latest trends in educational technology and how they are impacting the roles that teachers and administrators play with their students.
1. Big Data in Schools
With the increased use of digital tools in the classroom, teachers and education leaders have more access to data about their students and their academic progress than ever before. This helps teachers differentiate instruction in the classroom—a topic I’ll dive into further in a moment—but it’s also beneficial in other ways, including for education leaders.
As blog contributor Dustin Bindreiff wrote, administrators can use data to simplify the monitoring of student attendance and work completion, evaluate student engagement, analyze teacher motivation and engagement, and track staff attendance and turnover. Education leaders could face challenges when using analytics to improve their school or district; for example, they may have too much data and not enough time to sift through it. But if used in the right way, big data can make a big impact.
2. Differentiation and Personalization
Differentiation and personalization go hand in hand with big data, which can shed light on how well students understand the topics covered in the curriculum. Adaptive technology can give them the extra instruction and practice they need.
As experts noted during an EdTech panel at this year's ASU+GSV Summit, differentiation is more important than ever due to many schools’ transition to remote learning this year. This is especially true as students need to catch up on the instruction they missed out on in the spring, when schools suddenly closed. Lessons that are tailored to meet students’ individual needs are essential—and EdTech can make this a reality.
Many online learning programs offer students scaffolding and feedback. HMH's Waggle uses adaptive technology to give students hints or additional support as they progress through lessons. The program can also accelerate instruction for more advanced learners.
3. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is making its way into some classrooms, allowing teachers to take their students on a journey and actually see what they’re learning. HMH, a Google partner, offers 360-degree virtual experiences for students in HMH Field Trips, enabling them to explore the world—both past and present—without leaving their classrooms. Teachers have the ability to monitor where students are in their journey, control the images students see, and pause trips as needed to provide additional explanation.
4. Digital Assessment
In the Educator Confidence Report, nearly half of educators said they leveraged online assessments in the switch to distance learning. To help in this transition, HMH’s Waggle now includes an adaptive benchmark assessment to measure student achievement. Even online programs such as Kahoot!, a game-based learning website where teachers can create multiple-choice quizzes for students, are gaining popularity.
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