Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
If you compare the current day classroom to those of the past, you’ll see more than just blackboards, chalk and textbooks. The quick evolution of technology means we are constantly adapting and changing the way we teach our students.
From facilitating lesson plans to helping teachers share resources, edtech is a network that connects teachers with each other, as well as with students and parents.
Technology is also helping teachers cope with a heavy workload. Automating some of the paperwork is helping teachers concentrate on actually being able to teach.
But no matter how willing we are to use it or how user-friendly it is, using educational technology for the first time can be an intimidating experience. We’ve put together some tips for how to integrate edtech tools in a productive and stress-free way.
1. Create a PD plan
Before you decide to jump into edtech, you’ll need to design a process of professional development. A smart and detailed plan will help make the transition easier.
First, be realistic about what access you have to technology and what possibilities this access allows you. If your students don’t have easy access to computers, for example, consider using apps that are accessible through smartphones.
The next step is to establish your own comfort level with technology. Don’t be embarrassed to say you're a beginner! The world of edtech is still quite new and there are plenty of people in your position.
Once you’ve got a plan, put it into motion! Look for PD opportunities online outside of your school to begin to connect with other educators exploring the same challenges.
2. Start a professional learning network (PLN)
You don’t need to look far to find an edtech expert. Sometimes your best resource is your fellow teachers who are already successfully using technology.
A PLN is meant to be your support system. Think of it as a non-judgemental place where you can go to learn and share. Integrating edtech is an ongoing process and you’ll need your PLN to guide you along the way.
Try forming a PLN with your grade level team to strategize solutions specific to your age group. Lesson-planning with edtech becomes less daunting when you know you’re not in it alone.
3. Explore online resources
There’s an abundance of great resources online on what teachers are doing with technology. Besides teaching you practical tips, they can also inspire you to use edtech in your own creative way.
Twitter has become a significant network for teachers to collaborate and learn. There are many online forums you can join to discuss new tools and techniques on integrating technology.
You can also follow many edtech coaches, such as Stacey Roshan and Bethany Petty, on social media for up-to-date analysis of the latest technology. Many of these edtech coaches also have blogs and podcasts that provide even more useful information.
4. Take it slow
Don’t try to tackle every tool at once! The amount of edtech platforms on the market is overwhelming and new things are always coming out.
Focus on learning one specific app or tool first. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can then think about how to integrate it into your curriculum.
There’s no pressure to become an expert right from the get-go! Start with the basics and expertise will come with practice.
5. Focus on the content
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the dazzle of a tool. Remind yourself that with edtech, learning should always come first and technology second.
Edtech integration needs to be content-driven. Focus on the educational goals and how a tech tool will help reach them. Consider whether a new tool can be integrated into existing lessons or if you would need to plan new lessons.
6. Let students be the teachers
Our students are much more tech-savvy than we are! Tap into that knowledge and don’t be afraid to let them be the teacher when it comes to tech.
Consider giving a new tool to a couple of students and asking them to learn and test it out first. Once they figure it out, they can teach the rest of class, including you!
7. Reflect on the process
A great way to learn more from a new experience is to reflect on it. Try keeping a journal to think about the difficulties and successes you’ve had, and to brainstorm better ways of implementing edtech with students.
Consider asking your more knowledgeable colleagues for feedback. They can observe your teaching and give you strategies for developing your use of edtech. Not only will this improve your practice, but it will also boost your confidence.
8. Use video
We lose a lot of learning opportunities when we decide to block video streaming sites. Keep in mind that YouTube doesn’t have to be the enemy.
Videos can play an important role in your classroom. It’s possible to find smart ways to use these tools and create a video-friendly environment that teaches our students how to use them responsibly.
With sites like YouTube, Khan Academy, and TED-Ed, finding a video clip that enhances your lesson is easier than ever. There are already hours of quality videos on any topic you can imagine.
Edpuzzle relies on all of this amazing video content to give you the power and freedom to use it in your classroom. Because sharing is at the heart of Edpuzzle’s philosophy, you can also see what other, maybe more Edpuzzle-experienced teachers are doing.
You even have the chance to let your students have a go at video lesson-making themselves. When you create a student project, your students get the chance to show off their skills. Who knows, maybe they’ll teach you a trick or two!
Think these steps sound doable? Choose an edtech tool and start learning today!