In recent years almost every school has adopted, on some level, the use of educational technology in their curriculum. Educational trends come and go but the integration of edtech can fit into any of those philosophies, policies and institutions to make the process of acquiring information as exciting as a Vegas casino event.
Using edtech can increase student engagement, allow teachers to track progress more easily and in real-time, give students the chance to collaborate, improve the digital literacy of the learners, allow for differentiated learning and more.
There are hundreds of easy-to-use (and often free) edtech tools that anyone can access with a computer and access to the Internet. What are the best?
ProWritingAid is a comprehensive tool that encourages students to improve their writing skills. The tool checks for overused words, passive voice, incorrect grammar, overuse of clichés and sentence variety. Users can compose in the tool itself or copy and past or upload a document into the template.
Once the text has been submitted the user will receive a summary report with statistics about the strengths and weaknesses of the piece. The summary report will also include suggestions for changes and data on the piece’s readability, average sentence length, overuse of adverbs and more. Students can see their strengths and weaknesses for a more personalized instruction.
Empatico is a free tool that takes students on a tour of the world through experiences that spark kindness, curiosity and empathy. Live video is combined with interactive activities with the goal of fostering meaningful connections among students from around the world. It’s basically a 21st century pen pal, but a lot more fun and exciting.
Anyone can make a poster or other graphic image with Canva. There are tools that you can use for free and, of course, additional tools that allow you to make the image even more exciting and interactive. You can create logos, business cards, resumes, infographics invitations, flyers, certificates, wallpaper, and more with backgrounds, text and photos. The use of Canva can inspire students by allowing them to express concepts and data through creative design. Stories can come to life though this design tool that gives learners the opportunity to innovate, explore and engage in new ways.
Google Tour Creator
Google Expeditions has been a standard classroom tool for a number of years. Google Expeditions gives students the chance to experience many of the world’s most famous and not-so-famous sites in 3D.
Now students can create tours, using imagery from Google Street view or their own 360 photos. Once the photos have been uploaded into Poly, Google’s library of free AR and VR objects, they’re ready to be included in a Google Tour.
Google tours can make the world more “real” as they plan out a route that brings them into contact with sites that they’ve never actually seen but can now envision. Alternately, the tour can be of a site with which the student is familiar – their home, street, neighborhood, local shopping mall or school. The Google tour can be used as a way to reflect on a field trip, as a supplement to a creative writing project or as a creative way to present a subject.
Having VR technology makes it easier to create the tour but Google provides Google Cardboard for those that don’t – the Google Cardboard can be used to make a VR headset with just a smartphone and some imagination.
Quizlet is a tool that can be used with students of any age. It allows the teacher to help students review material in a fun and interactive manner. Teachers create quizzes about any type of material, from math to foreign languages, from spelling to geography. Teachers can make their own classroom set, assign students to create quizzes for their peers or use a quiz that another teacher has created – each teacher can archive his or her quiz for use by other classrooms, sometimes in a location clear across the country.
Studying through games makes it easier to learn and retain information. It also creates an engaging learning atmosphere for everyone. Students can work independently or in pairs or groups. The students can also compete against each other to see which student/group of students can complete the quiz first.