As a technology consultant, I’ve been thankful to support teachers as they manage all the technology at their fingertips during these past two school years affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many teachers had to adapt to a remote, technology-driven environment quickly — and I’m proud of how they’ve risen to the task for the sake of their students.
With the new school year approaching, and the pandemic still in progress, here are some important technology integrations I plan to incorporate into back-to-school plans for my teachers:
Integrating video seamlessly
The hands-down biggest challenge that I observed with remote teaching was capturing, and sustaining, student attention. Learning online offers so many opportunities to become distracted (Hello, YouTube and TikTok). So instead of fighting against the current, teachers can dive in by integrating video into lessons and assignments. This works for both in-person and remote learning.
Using formative assessments
Short and frequent quizzes play a key role in formative assessment efforts. They help check for understanding and finetune approaches to lessons. These on-the-spot quizzes also help promote active learning and allow teachers to track student progress in real-time. Live quizzes spark lively classroom discussions by asking students questions live through virtual meeting solutions, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams.
I use the recently-updated Discovery Education platform to provide users a range of question formats — from polling to open-ended and multiple-choice to image annotation — which helps my district educators find new ways to integrate assessments into instruction. I also tap the platform’s video-based quizzes. These combine video with embedded questions to create highly engaging, interactive learning experiences. The real-time display empowers teachers to gauge participation, offer just-in-time feedback, and identify remediation needs.
Growing student creativity
One of the upsides of remote learning is that it has encouraged all learners to take more control of their experiences. Students have had to manage their time and navigate an outside-of-classroom learning experience. This forced creative thinking is something I plan to promote and support by encouraging teachers to create student-created activities and presentations.
Navigating the uncertainty of the past 16 months required thinking creatively and strategically and reinventing what teaching and learning looks like. Overall, I think it has made us all better educators, regardless of role, by pushing us to innovate with technology. As our district moves back to a more traditional learning environment, I will continue to support teachers daily as they use integrated technology as part of their instructional design.
Andrea Lance is a district consultant with Richland County School District One in Columbia, S.C. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Practice and Innovation through the University of South Carolina. She uses Discovery Education tools in her consulting.
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