Technology isn't a silver bullet to all problems in education, but with the right knowledge and training, it can empower existing forms of learning and teaching. And like other industries, it should also increase productivity, reduce friction and save time.
I know you’re busy, but by investing a few moments to learn a new technology, you might save yourself - and your students – days or weeks in the long run.
Here are five ways technology can be a benefit, rather than hindrance to a teacher's day.
1. Paperless teaching
Teachers and students are often found swimming in a sea of paper. But outside the world of education, the majority of work is managed online. Tools like Google Classroom are designed to allow teachers to send students assignments and resources digitally, rather than through reams of printed hand-outs, and are easy to learn.
Students working digitally rather than on paper can also help out with tasks that, done manually, can be time consuming and tedious. In some situations, automated marking systems where teachers can mark assignments on screen can save a huge amount of time.
2. Digital organisation and productivity
Teachers need to be the masters of time management – and like any other job, if time isn't managed properly, it can lead to stress and a poor work-life balance. There are many online tools available to help, such as Microsoft OneNote and Evernote, helping teachers get more done and more quickly in the time they have available.
These applications can be great because they are flexible enough to be used in different ways. For example, it's possible to create class plans as notes which are tagged for organisational purposes. Other ways you can use them include creating to-do lists, sharing notebooks with students or taking photos of what’s been drawn on the whiteboard.
3. Online teaching resources
There's no point reinventing the wheel – there are many sources of information online designed to help teachers with the business of teaching, and many of them are free. One of the most well-known of these is TES.com, which offers many resources for teachers – helping in areas such as pedagogy and professional development, as well as offering classroom toolkits.
Our Engage platform is also packed with training and teaching material. Ever fancied teaching your class about the basics of computer science? Robotics? Engineering? You don’t have to be an expert yourself. Learning as you go is half the fun.
4. Let students use the power of mobile
According to the Speak Up survey, 89 per cent of high school students have access to a smartphone and 50 per cent have access to a tablet. We know you might be sick of confiscating phones and having your quiet time interrupted by ringtones and incoming texts, but many students are using those devices to make their learning more effective.
60 per cent had used a mobile for on-the-fly research, 40 per cent for collaboration and one third had set up reminders and alerts.
By changing the image of mobiles in the classroom from a time-wasting toy to a powerful learning tool, you can improve their productivity, plus reward students with a sense of responsibility for their own learning. It’s difficult to tell a teacher that your dog ate your mobile.
Related to the empowerment of students, technology can be used to get them working with each other. Instead of having to speak up in front of teachers and the class, children have the opportunity to get online and share what they're learning. Different classrooms across the globe can collaborate with each other – think Skype.
Careful use of social media tools allow students to meet up and work together outside of the classroom walls. Instead of teachers doing the planning, students can do the hard work by arranging their own study sessions and meetups. And with tools like Yammer and Facebook, teachers can also make sure they are effectively communicating and learning from their peers.
Please let us know – what hacks do you use to work more effectively?