Three factors to consider on your back-to-school edtech hunt.
GUEST COLUMN | by Marie Mérouze
Becoming enamored with new tech gadgets is all too easy in today’s society, and the education industry is not immune to these fleeting tech infatuations. Whether it’s a demo at a tech conference or a raving review from another teacher, edtech products easily find their way to the top of any educator’s wishlist. But the problem with edtech’s popularity is that, oftentimes, products are purchased based on flashy looks and sounds, rather than the impact on a child’s educational growth.
In selecting edtech tools for your classroom, it is important to keep in mind what these products were created for — helping teachers and students alike in the learning process.
As the search for new lesson plans and gadgets begins, keep these three factors in mind to make sure you’re investing in the best edtech products on the market.
1. Edtech that can adapt to the student’s pace.
If you’re looking to stock up on new edtech for the upcoming school year, be sure to find products that have multiple learning levels built into the software. For example, apps that are capable of teaching not only how to recognize consonants, but also how to combine them with basic vowels are great for multiple steps on the road to literacy. If the device is only capable of teaching one skill or the other, then it won’t prove useful throughout the school year as your students grow and advance their skills.
Tech products for classroom-use must have the capability to increase or decrease in difficulty depending on the skill base of the child using the device. Technology with lessons that progress in difficulty are ideal for the classroom because not only do they allow students to improve, but they also allow other students at different skill levels to use the same product during the same lesson. Products that support continued and varied use have a greater value to educators because they can be accessed throughout the year, instead of just at the beginning or end.
2. Devices that positively contribute to the classroom.
Edtech products with constant background sounds, flashing lights and other distracting features can be disruptive to the educational environment. An integral part of any edtech program search is to make sure that the product won’t distract you or your students. Find devices that will fuse into your existing classroom culture. A sound edtech investment will be one that enables a new platform for children to learn, while serving as a teaching tool that doesn’t distract or undermine the goals of a focused classroom.
Another important aspect to consider is the ability to adjust audio-visible displays. It is vital that educators can customize their edtech for every learning environment that they encounter. If the students prefer a quieter classroom, the best edtech products should be able to accommodate that need.
3. Tools that promote physical manipulation for learning.
It has been proven that children have an easier time understanding fundamental theories when they physically interact with their learning tools. Interactive products are no stranger to the edtech market; many companies have created devices that do not sacrifice hands-on learning and its benefits. When looking for classroom tools, find edtech devices that require physical manipulation, instead of buying products that are completely digital. Your students need an aspect of physical movement with their learning tools to help them visualize and comprehend key concepts. For example, interactive technology is especially useful for elementary-level math teachers. Grounding mathematical concepts in physical manipulation will help students better understand what the math and numbers are truly representing.
As the edtech market continues to expand, it becomes increasingly difficult to sift through all of the educational products at your disposal. In selecting edtech tools for your classroom, it is important to keep in mind what these products were created for — helping teachers and students alike in the learning process. Don’t forget to utilize these three shopping tips as a helpful guide, and be sure to put in the appropriate amount of research to guarantee that you are making the most informed edtech investment.