As we lean into a new school year, it’s important to think about how educators across all areas — in the classroom, outside of the classroom and in leadership — can engage students.
You can aim to make the year as hands-on and engaging as possible by creating meaningful experiences for students with technology. There are ample ways to authentically embed edtech into your instruction regardless of who you are as an educator. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Begin by looking at the ISTE Standards.
The ISTE Student Standards aim to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process. Regardless of your role in education, student-driven experiences are essential for authentic learning. The ISTE Student Standards act as a road map to elevate student learning and assessment.
For example, if a teacher wants students to create an authentic learning product, they may lean on ISTE Student Standard 4 (Innovative Designer): Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
2. Embed technology into your lesson in a meaningful way.
It’s important to remember that edtech lesson design always starts with the learning goals and not the technology. By asking yourself how a particular lesson can be enhanced with technology, you avoid using technology for technology's sake.
3. Let students choose the right tools.
Student Standard 1 (Empowered Learner) states that students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals. You can help students choose technology platforms and tools that can help them achieve their learning goals. For example, if a student wants to create a video to demonstrate their learning, they may want to explore video-creation platforms like WeVideo, Screencastify or YouTube. You can help them vet these tools to find the best one for their project.
4. Introduce students to the technology tool.
If you’re expecting students to use a specific tool for a project or assignment, take the time to make sure they know how to use it before it is applied to a lesson, project or activity. Don’t assume they will know how to use a tool just because they are savvy with other technology. And if they get stuck, create a classroom culture where they feel asking other students for help and not just you.
Students feel empowered when they are seen as the experts, so this is a good way to create collaborative classroom culture.
5. Collect feedback on the final product.
Make sure students have opportunities to share feedback on each other’s work and that the environment is safe and supportive. If appropriate, seek opportunities to share student work with a larger audience that includes parents, other educators and the public at large. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they’ve learned, and use this as an opportunity to improve lessons and projects in the future.
There is no question that technology will continue to offer innovative ways to engage students. As you and colleagues at your school use technology to facilitate these experiences, consider looking at the ISTE Student Standards. They can help guide your thinking as you provide authentic learning experiences for students.
Victoria Thompson is an ISTE Ambassador and a STEM integration transformation coach at Technology Access Foundation, a nonprofit leader redefining STEM education in public schools. She is also a consultant for Ignite EdTech and a learning specialist for NCCE. She has worked in education for five years and began her journey teaching fifth and sixth grade math and science in Summerville, South Carolina.