March 25, 2020
When Yolanda and her classmates enter their ninth grade music class, they immediately notice an interactive whiteboard. Musical notes scroll across the screen. Yolanda quickly identifies the notes independently and then watches a slowed-down version of the musical note display so the class can check her answers. Next, the teacher uses the interactive whiteboard to illustrate how to read and write music on staff paper. Yolanda and her classmates interact with the whiteboard to update the musical notes on the same “document,” creating a collaborative composition available online.
Interactive whiteboards and other technologies transform classrooms, making them more interactive, student-centered, and customized to individual students’ learning styles. Gamified learning applications, shared online calendars, and the integration of digital content into lessons are only some of the technologies that can improve communication among parents, teachers, and students; foster student enthusiasm; and bring classrooms to life.
Integrating technology in the classroom requires expertise. To harness technology’s power to make classrooms inclusive, interactive, and engaging, teachers need the right training. Louisiana State University’s Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Educational Technology is designed to help teachers innovate ways to use technology and create exciting learning experiences.
Many learning technologies and tools boost a teacher’s ability to engage students, as they facilitate access to a multitude of resources and interactive activities. Below are examples of technologies that can benefit teachers and students alike.
Educators can take advantage of computers, laptops, and tablets, allowing students to play educational games, watch videos, and interact with new media. These devices also give students access to the internet to conduct research, access databases, and visit educational websites. For example, a history teacher instructing a unit on the Medici family’s cultural influence could have students take a virtual tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and go on an online scavenger hunt for Medici-commissioned art.
Educators can keep the learning environment interesting and maximize efficiency by using smartboards in the classroom. With an interactive whiteboard, teachers can bring up supplementary imagery readily, play videos, allow students to collaborate in real time on the display, and share notes on a class wiki or website. A smartboard can make lessons more engaging and can make it easier for students to return to the notes when class is over. Additionally, these devices can support a variety of subject-specific learning apps.
Virtual reality (VR) is becoming increasingly common, as are its applications in the classroom. Teachers can use this technology to come up with creative ways to instruct students in everything from a cell’s structure to the invasion of Normandy. Other forms of immersive media, such as organizing virtual field trips to Ellis Island and other historic sites, can give students new perspectives and deeper understandings of subject matter. Interactive VR games can also offer new exciting ways to teach subjects such as biology. One immersive VR game takes students inside a human cell and uses interactive activities to teach them about DNA, RNA and proteins.
Educators can leverage social media to create groups, hashtags, or other opportunities for their students to interact with material and each other. For instance, English teachers could create a Facebook group where they post discussion topics about Shakespeare’s Macbeth, giving students the chance to ask questions or comment as they read the play. Teachers could also upload several versions of one scene and ask students to share how they would direct it. Additionally, teachers can invite students to upload their own video or article links related to a specific theme in the play.
Integrating technology in the classroom enlivens learning and offers other advantages as well.
Technology helps ensure that both teachers and students can easily access class materials anytime with lessons synced to the cloud, supporting videos and graphics uploaded to Google Classroom, and upcoming assignments displayed on a shared calendar.
Student engagement increased by 55% after the introduction of smart technology into classrooms, according to a Gallup survey summarized in Entrepreneur’s “How Smart Class Technology Is Benefiting Education Sector.” With technology on hand, teachers can illustrate ideas using interactive media. Whether building collaborative wiki pages with class notes or playing educational games on tablets, students can engage interactively through technology.
Students undoubtedly enjoy using technologies such as VR and tablets, which can hold their attention with videos, graphics, and other media. Fun technology inspires students to continue learning and creates intrinsic motivation. In turn, it builds classroom morale and makes teachers’ jobs easier.
Technology empowers teachers to develop creative and interactive classrooms and gives them access to innovative resources. Effective educators understand the benefits of integrating technology in the classroom and finding new ways to make lessons meaningful. Explore how Louisiana State University’s Online Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology trains educators to harness technologies that transform classrooms into exciting learning environments.