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DMI Daily Digest

How to Use Digital Technologies to Teach Students

Technology has changed education and will continue to do so. Many educators understandably had reservations and fears about how, or even whether, to incorporate it into their teaching. However, failure to integrate technology into students educational experience may leave them ill-served when they join the job market

Technology is already a large part of their lives outside of the classroom so incorporating into their education makes sense, and doing so doesn’t have to be limited to lecturing while using a powerpoint presentation!

With planning and creativity, digital technology can be used to create meaningful learning experiences which will serve both students and instructors well. Technology has a role to play as a powerful teaching tool. In this article, we explore 4 ways that it can be used to teach today.

1) Flip the classroom

Flip the classroom

Flip the classroom and let your students be the teachers. Students can be assigned to research and present a topic using an appropriate technology tool of their choice.

This could mean that they create a podcast episode, online video using a platform such as youtube or Vimeo. As well as learning about the chosen topic this gives students the chance to learn how to develop research skills, learn to assess whether online sources are trustworthy, to verify materials found online and to find out about the appropriate use of sound clips and images.

Storytelling skills are considered an essential soft skill and presenting a topic to a classroom of their peers in an engaging way can help students to gain confidence and presentation skills. Using information and material found online also offers them the opportunity to understand copyright and open source usage. Storytelling skills are considered an essential soft skill and presenting a topic to a classroom of their peers in an engaging way can help students to gain confidence in their presentation skills.

Using information and material found online also offers them the opportunity to understand about copyright and open source. Giving students the opportunity to teach can also generate empathy as students gain an insight into the role of their teachers.

2) Utilize online tools

Facilitate collaboration through online tools

Collaboration - Collaboration skills are predicted to continue to be an in-demand skill in the future. Students who are comfortable collaborating with others from an early stage while having the edge in the job market.

With online tools like Google docs and others, students can share and edit work with each other. Students are already communicating through social media and online channels but doing so with a shared goal in mind will challenge them to consider interacting online in a different way. Another future workplace trend which is likely to grow is smart or remote working teams.

Trusting students to work on and connect through technology makes a good real-world experience. Group forums could be used for problem-based learning, a problem could be assigned to an online group to resolve within a certain timeframe.

Here the learning outcome might be the collaboration and approaches to solving the problem rather than coming up with the correct answer.

Online forums - Aside from working on group projects consider creating an online forum where students can continue discussions that began in the classroom and share relevant materials. Having different ways to contribute to discussions, both in person and virtually, can allow diverse voices to be heard.

Introverted students may be more comfortable making their points from a keyboard than on the spot in the classroom. Some of the points raised online may be used to generate future discussion in the classroom.

Sharing content - Ask students to consider making their digital projects public. Doing this can help them to consider their online privacy and security. Encourage them to debate and sign a waiver if they are happy to share content online.

This should be used to generate discussion around online platforms consent requirements rather than graded in accordance to whether they share their projects or not.

3) Use a classroom response system

Use a classroom response system

Implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy and get students to use their mobile devices to contribute to in-class polls and quizzes.

There are a number of apps available to education providers which allow large groups of students to answer multiple-choice quizzes at once in real-time such as:

This can give instructors instant feedback on whether students have understood concepts explained in class (where there is only one correct answer) or to generate debate on more nuanced philosophical topics. In classroom “clickers” have been in use since the 1990s, but moving to mobile devices makes sense for students and staff.

They allow students to generate more open responses than the more limited pre-assigned responses available through the clicker devices. While there may be concerns about student distraction and affordability of devices these concerns do not seem to play out in reality

4) Support students and/or teachers with disabilities

Support students and/or teachers with disabilities

Among the first users to adopt technology for educational purposes are students with disabilities. Perhaps the most famous academic using technology was the late Stephen Hawkins who depended on a computer for communication long before the rest of the world started to use computers to send emails.

It’s easy for the majority who are not dependent on technology or human aides to do tasks the rest of us take for granted. Very often people with disabilities can be the first to adapt to technology and see ways of using it that the rest of us fail to see.

While lots of us think that have a smart home or classroom seems like a luxury, for students or teaching staff with disabilities it could unlock a level of independence that would previously have seemed impossible.

Final thoughts

Before and after new technology tools are introduced to your classroom, seek feedback from colleagues and students about their efficacy. Remember, as you would tell your students, failure is part of learning.

Bear in mind that not every technology tool will work for your subject and students, and different cohorts may have varying responses to using technology. However, there are many benefits to be gained from trying new approaches to teaching and integrating technology into the classroom.

Continue to try new ways to deliver learning outcomes will keep teaching interesting for instructors and open new opportunities for learning for both teachers and students. Technology is well integrated into students’ experiences outside the classroom so using these tools makes sense.

And when students leave the classroom to return to, or enter, the workplace they will enter a world where adapting to use technological tools is an integral part of their professional lives. For faculty, technology is becoming an integral professional tool.