Incorporating technology into the classroom is the most effective way to maintain student engagement, but it requires teachers who understand how to modernize their curriculum. The Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Educational Technology at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) gives teachers the "knowledge essential to integrating emerging technology into a broad range of learning environments."
How Can Teachers Develop the Skills to Use Tech Effectively?
Before teachers can use technology to increase student engagement, they must develop the skills to use it effectively. The specialized education technology curriculum at Texas A&M International University features coursework designed to help educators become more tech-savvy, with classes like the following:
- EDIT 5320: Instructional Leadership and Technology Integration
- EDIT 5340: Emerging Technologies, Models, and Learning Environments
- EDIT 5350: Accessibility, Equity, and Assistive Technology
Strategies for Engaging Tech-Literate Students
U.S. students of all ages are starting school with, at minimum, basic technology skills. It follows that teachers who use up-to-date technology can motivate students to learn better. Traditional book reports or oral presentations simply won't resonate with tech-literate learners who require a more dynamic educational experience. Teachers who want to motivate their students not only to engage but also to excel will want to consider the following tech-centered strategies for reinvigorating the learning environment:
- Gamify the Classroom
According to the International Society for Technology in Education, "Students love playing Kahoot!, Quizizz, Quizlet Live, Gimkit and the newest online trivia and games, Blooket." Each of these free platforms allows teachers to gamify learning by creating quizzes students can answer from their own personal devices. Many of these platforms have a pre-existing bank of quizzes that teachers can use to save time while lesson planning. Quizzes are a way to increase students' recall abilities. Students who are unmotivated by competition may respond to a learning environment that enables participation without requiring them to speak in front of the class.
- Create a Class Podcast
The New EdTech Classroom reports that "Starting a student podcast is an excellent way to use education technology to promote different voices in the classroom." Using a platform like Soundtrap to create a class podcast allows students to develop speaking and listening skills. It gives students a chance to share their opinions, promotes engagement in the learning environment, and fosters empathy and understanding to create a sense of community. Students also gain experience with digital content creation that could potentially lead to careers in journalism or media arts.
- Take a Virtual Field Trip.
The New EdTech Classroom goes on to say that "Students can use tools like Skype and Google Hangouts to go on virtual field trips, as well as connect with other students, educators, and presenters around the world." Virtual learning experiences are proving extremely valuable as school districts face the reality of a post-COVID budget crunch. Through virtual connections, students can enjoy low-cost interactions with their peers or with subject matter experts from all over the world. Instead of simply reading about the Sistine Chapel or the Louvre, students can experience a virtual tour of these famous sites.
- Promote Digital Citizenship.
"Teaching digital citizenship skills to students is one of the most important reasons why technology must be a central part of public education today," notes The New EdTech Classroom. Eliminating cyberbullying, protecting individual privacy and combating misinformation are just a few of the challenges facing young people in the rapidly expanding digital world. Teachers must take steps to ensure that students learn how to do the following:
- Determine the accuracy or reliability of online information
- Understand the core principles of internet safety and online security
- Respect their fellow digital citizens
- Recognize how addictive social media can be
Integrating technology into the learning environment unlocks many opportunities, but it requires responsible, well-educated teachers. The Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Educational Technology at Texas A&M International University gives teachers the knowledge they need to lead their schools into the digital era.
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