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Engaging Students via Technology: Tools for Teachers

Guest Post by Oscar Waterworth

While most kids younger than 6 cannot even read, a lack of literacy is not an obstacle when they browse the Internet. Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a research organization closely affiliated with the Sesame Street, reveals that around 25% of children under the age of 6 venture online on a regular basis. What is more, the research also suggests that around 60% of their older siblings (ages 6 to 9) access the Internet at least once a week.

Experts agree that any media consumption before age 2 is unhealthy. Still, parents are often handing their smartphones over to children as young as 1. This practice can obstruct the child’s learning processes. However, new devices and apps are popping up basically every day.

Therefore, we cannot determine the exact impact that technology has on our society, but it may be the new key to increasing the number of engaged students in classrooms all across the world.

Boosting Student Engagement

Despite what most rebellious teenagers might think, we all know that all educators are well-meaning and that they do not want to see a student fail. However, while most teachers are doing their best to captivate every single student, it seems that a large number of them have trouble focusing.

As a matter of fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, around 28% of students are not engaged and 17% are completely disengaged.

Teaching With the Aid of Tech

At home, technology mainly serves as a pastime activity. Once it enters a classroom though, it becomes a tool that helps teachers create and present relative and interesting content to students. When learning becomes relevant in the students’ minds, they turn into fully engaged, active listeners.

As students get more access to the learning resources, they become able to control their own learning processes. For instance, any teacher can use a free online app maker and in such a way help their students get familiar with the basic principles of programming.

Engaging Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom

The lectures and lessons are still informative and effective. Sadly, the traditional teaching methods have simply become ineffective. Thankfully, the Internet is loaded with free tools that enable you to bring a certain sense of fun engagement to your lessons.

For example, did you know that games (in basically any form) could increase the motivation of your students through participation and engagement? Games also allow students to take responsibility for their choices which helps them to learn how to fail and recover.

Using Apps in the Classroom

Technology also allows you to gather live feedback and integrate students’ input. Popular polling apps like PollEverywhere enable you to create simple and easy polls. This will allow you to find out if your students are struggling with certain subjects and topics, if they know the answers to certain questions (such as how polls are created), etc.

There are also several free interactive whiteboards readily available online. Applications like BounceApp let you review, notate and share any web page with your students. Some of them let your students log on and collaboratively edit content.

Technology Cannot Replace Creative Teachers

Of course, it is important to keep in mind that technology does not always guarantee success. In fact, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology revealed that students who study on laptops and iPads have the same weak study habits and tendencies as students that study from traditional textbooks. Most of them over-copy long passages, write extensive outlines and rely too much on the memory drills, like re-reading text.

Proceed With Caution

As students spend more and more time on personal computers and mobile devices, it will be crucial for them to learn better ways of processing and making use of information. So remember, while making an effort to engage your students with new technological tools is important, it is even more important to make sure that you implement the technology in the right way.