The incorporation of edtech in the classroom isn’t a Red Casino attempt to gamble on children’s education. Numerous studies have shown that edtech offers numerous benefits to students including the expansion of immersive learning, the ability to customize learning for each student, the ability to provide students with easier access to more learning resources, to add fun to learning, to increase collaboration among students, to better prepare students for the job market of the future and to teach students about digital life.
Some of the edtech tools in use today require both teachers and students to learn new educational methodologies and become proficient in various digital technologies. Others are easy to use and give students new strategies for learning with a few clicks of the mouse.
Some of the newest and most effective edtech tools being used in K-12 frameworks today include:
Minecraft takes players through the exploration of a blocky, 3D world where they craft tools and other items, build structures, create simple machines, extract raw materials and perform other activities that allow them to build their virtual world. There are multiple game modes in which players cooperate or compete, search for health resources fight enemies and simply strive to survive. Users generate game mechanics such as servers, texture packs, modifications, skins, custom maps and more.
Schools are using Minecraft to foster collaboration, creativity, computational thinking skills, social and emotional learning, map skills, mathematical reasoning, sequencing, reading and problem-solving skills.
Minecraft now has an Education Edition which allows educator to select the type of lesson on which s/he wishes to focus/ these subject include art and design, math, coding, historical events, geography, writing and language arts, space exploration, planetary systems, food production, energy systems, sustainability/recycling, energy transfer, units of measurement, etc.
The Minecraft: Education Edition integrates with Windows, Chromebook, Mac and iPad.
Remember blackboards? Linoboard is a virtual blackboard where the teacher can post videos, photos, texts, questions and more for students to ponder and review. The fun comes when students respond because they post their own responses on the linoboard where not only the teacher but other students can see what they’re posting. The interaction is endless as students post notes, pictures and even their own links and videos to respond to their peers. The board can be organized in any way and sub-boards can be created to facilitate sub-discussions.
Linoboards are a great way to facilitate student discussions, share resources and links and make a classroom bulletin board with announcements, assignments, links of interests and so on. Linoboards are a good tool to promote collaborative learning. The board can be public or private and the teacher can moderate the sticky notes before they are published on the board.
Kahoot! can be used as both a learning and an assessment tool by connecting students and teachers either online or in-class. Both teachers and students create Kahoot! quizzes using a pre-designed template as the base or with a self-designed template. Kahoot! questions can include puzzles, polls, multiple choice questions, true/false questions, multiple choice questions, word clouds and more. If you don’t want to create a new Kahoot! you can peruse the database where thousands of previously-designed Kahoot! quizzes are available for your use.
Kahoot! has proved to be a powerful learning tool because it promotes deeper understanding of the material to be taught. Teachers can gather student feedback using polls and assess the effectiveness of the lesson in seconds by reviewing students’ answers to questions. The platform supports puzzle-type questions.
Educators like Kahoot! because it motivates and activates students’ learning by assessing student’also provides instructors with the ability to further student-to- student interaction and facilitate class discussion.
The Kahoot! digital library contains thousands of formative assessments on topics ranging from robotics and STEM to SEL, civics, space, math, literature, social studies, history and almost every other subject.
In a political climate of increasing polarization, AllSides aims to teach students critical thinking skills by providing them with diverse perspectives, balance news articles and opportunities to engage in authentic discussions.
Students can look at the site to assesses the political bias of prominent media outlets and then different versions of similar news stories from sources of the political left, right and center. For many students, looking at AllSides is the first time that they see news accounts as presented outside their traditional filter bubble.
AllSides was not created specifically to be used in the classroom but teachers who want to encourage their students to look at their news sources with a more critical eye will find this tool to be of great use.
AllSides rates sources on a five-point scale: Right, leans Right, Center, leans Left and Left. There are media bias charts listing popular sources created by staff members consisting of people who span the spectrum of the political landscape.
AllSides for Schools includes programs such as Mismatch — a platform that connects users who differ politically and geographically.
Storybird offers writers and readers creation tools that can be used to transform learners’ experiences reading and creative writing experiences.
Students look through the library to identify stories that interest them and then go on to create their own picture books, poems and stories. There are art tools that allow users to create artwork that helps them express and develop feelings and ideas.
Storybird is appropriate and adaptable for all ages and levels. The stories cover all language levels and are then used to inspire learners to create their own content. The online space transforms creative writing activities by providing characters, scenes and artwork that guide the user to create anything from a picture book to a full-length novel or piece of poetry.
Learners are encouraged to read and write stories that focus on specific grammar or vocabulary and are based on various characters, themes or events. The process involves reading, brainstorming, planning, editing and sharing with options for peer-evaluation.
The goal of Storybird is to stretch students’ imagination and enhance their engagement through collaborative learning.