Written by: Daniel Goodson // Nov 17, 2020
Last updated: Nov 17, 2020
Even as more and more students return to in-class education, it’s clear that online and tech-enabled learning is here to stay. The convenience, safety, and accessibility make it a highly valuable method of reaching students no matter where they are. For those who want to be prepared and increase their skill level as an educator in today’s shifting learning environment, it’s easy to see why every teacher needs an edtech strategy.
Educational technology, or edtech, can offer numerous benefits to both teachers and students. This new way of teaching and learning incorporates IT tools into the classroom to support student access, engagement, and success. In this article, you’ll see how the right strategy can unlock big benefits to provide an incredible education supported and enhanced by technology.
Use Your Time Wisely With EdTech
When used correctly, set up in advance, and practiced on, edtech can save you tremendous time and energy:
- Automate previously manual tasks
- Support the development of lesson plans
- Distribute educational support resources
- Create, amend, and distribute class learning materials
- Assess learning and gather student feedback
- Provide assignment responses and grades
However, integrating edtech into the classroom takes some work up front. Depending on the technology used, you may need to upload documents and lesson plans, create accounts, and revise past lessons. Plus, you should gain some familiarity with the technology ahead of time. When beginning your use of a new technology, it’s important to include additional time to overcome this learning curve. Despite the initial start-up effort, though, the potential for time and effort savings with educational technology are huge.
Choose the Right EdTech Tools
If you’re not careful, you can quickly become overwhelmed by the recent boom in edtech tools available. From classroom management to grading to tutoring to collaboration systems, there are endless ways to integrate technology. However, to avoid tech option overload, you need to have the answers to a few questions:
- What problems are you trying to solve?
- How do you plan to use the technology?
- How will this tool fit in with the rest of your course?
- What level of sophistication can your students handle?
- Where will technology help and where will it hinder?
Your answers to those questions should help lead you to the right edtech for your classroom. Technology for the sake of technology isn’t necessarily the best idea, so you should spend time reflecting on the unique demands of your students and the course material before picking any tool.
Prepare for Future Interruptions With Educational Technology
Educational technology isn’t always about looking for engaging tools to improve the learning experience. Sometimes it’s about just keeping the lessons going during unforeseen circumstances. In today’s uncertain health climate, it pays to plan for your future technology needs.
That includes a strategy for how you’ll use educational technology to handle unique teaching challenges that may arise:
- Hybrid or 100 percent online learning
- Online testing requirements
- Assignment and lesson automation
- 24/7 access to instructional materials
- Academic honesty concerns
While you’re crafting your upcoming teaching strategy, consider the types of challenges you may face as an educator, and consider alternative education delivery methods. As witnessed when schools abruptly went virtual this spring, you do not want to be left scrambling to transition your lessons online at the last moment.
Determine If Your Students Have the Necessary Resources
One of the sad facts of the COVID-19 crisis is that it has exposed the wealth gap between families and communities. Particularly in low-income areas, many students lack the digital devices and high-speed internet access required to attend virtual classes and complete assignments online.
Even when provided the devices and internet access required, students from low-income households may lack the technology skills to access and complete their assignments. There’s a good change they will not receive support at home either. Parents in low-income households may lack the computer skills necessary as well. This digital divide has led to the most underserved communities falling further behind during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an educator, you need to have a plan to address and solve these wealth and technology skill gaps:
- Allow alternative means of completing assignments
- Offer personal attention and technology support
- Restructure grading to avoid penalizing students struggling with technology
- Arrange for free device and internet access
Increase Your Value as an Educator by Improving Your EdTech Skills
The best way to show school administrators and leaders that you’re prepared to tackle the technologies of tomorrow is by embracing the technologies of today. When you craft a strategy to leverage edtech to its fullest extent, you can also help lead other teachers in these times of shifting education delivery.
Ready to get the edtech training that will allow you to adapt to the rapid changes in learning? Find out how USF’s iTeach Professional Learning courses help educators and administrators successfully integrate technology into teaching and learning.