7 Ways Technology is Improving Education

7 Ways Technology is Improving Education

Over the years, technology has shown the potential to improve various sectors in society—and education is one of them. Teaching and learning are becoming a more interactive practice than what was the case a few decades ago. The need for tech literate individuals has also encouraged many schools to incorporate technology into their curricula. Various schools are converting their classrooms into tech hubs.

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However, unless we are ready to appreciate and make use of technology in the classroom, its potential cannot be fully realized. Prudent measures should be put in place to ensure that education is sufficiently promoted by using technology. This article discusses the top seven ways technology is improving education today.

1. Enhanced teaching

There are concepts in class that are well taught through illustration rather than mere theory. For instance, explaining the effect temperature has on molecules can be a little ambiguous, but thanks to digital simulators, such concepts are well understood by the student. Teaching using models is an effective way of illustrating significant changes in processes while ensuring that the students remember the idea for a long time.

Teaching is never complete without assessment. With the help of technology, testing the level of students’ understanding of a learned concept is done in real time. The teacher can use this information to help weaker students and move to the next topic after being satisfied that all the students are on the same page.

2. Improved communication

Education is founded on the effectiveness of communication among students and teachers. This way, flow of knowledge is enhanced at every level. The classroom has been made into a community where teachers quickly post assignments, and the students can ask questions for verifications. Moreover, they can communicate with peers on different relevant matters.

There are sites that allow a student to learn a particular language with native speakers. This is done through video conferencing. Other platforms that enable students from different countries to exchange notes and ideas are also available on the net.

3. Use of interactive textbooks

Gone are the days when a textbook was only using texts and images to present information. Technology has introduced the use of digital and interactive books with audio and video capabilities for enhanced reading. Using videos and animations while studying has been proven to be one of the best methods of grasping a new concept. Technology has allowed highlighting various ideas, setting reminders, and making improvements to the information in textbooks. This enables students to understand everything better.

Students no longer have to carry big textbooks around in their quest for learning. A student can now have multiple digital books on one device and compare the notes with a simple tap. Convenience in learning is taken to a completely new level.

4. Advanced Research

The use of the cloud to store information has allowed web-based research to become more efficient. Unlike before when one would have to sort through massive piles of books to find the desired pages, technology comes with efficient searching tools. You will agree that a lot of time is saved with technology that is used in internalizing the new information and ideas learned.

The ability to compare research results by researchers worldwide has made it possible for enhanced results and quicker acquisition of solutions. This is one of the most obvious advantages of technology in students’ life.

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5. Students can learn at their pace

It is true that different students have different abilities to grasp a concept. While others are quick learners, some are significantly slow learners. This has made it difficult for slow learners to cope with their peers in class. This is something that technology has come to change.

Such students can now go over learned concepts at their convenience and have time to consult their teachers privately for a deeper understanding.

6. Learning is more fun

The use of new technology has made students enjoy their studying more than ever. Keeping a student engaged in learning is also crucial in improving the retention rate of new concepts learned. Laptops and tablets used in class make a seemingly boring subject more enjoyable. Where a subject is not entirely understood, a student can find a live streaming video online for better understanding and a different approach to an idea.

7. Examination has gone online

Taking tests has never been more convenient. Many people are choosing to take online courses at their convenience and later sit online exams with accreditation. These examinations seem to be the main thing of the future. Everything is done in real time. For teachers, recording the scores of students and grading them is now done at great convenience. Furthermore, a teacher can identify students’ weak spots and make the necessary improvements for a better personal approach.

Ranking of different students from different schools is also made easy with technology. Additionally, taking international examinations online is becoming more and more common.

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It will be improper to end this article without mentioning what technology has done for students with special needs. On different devices, such as the iPad, students with special needs such as the autism spectrum have been given a chance to learn with convenience. Powerful studying tools enable them to study like other students and have the same opportunities in the job market. Students from less advanced countries who have access to technology are also given a platform to display their talents.

It is only fair to say that technology has a lot to offer when integrated in education. The advantages of new technology in classrooms cannot be overrated. One thing is certain, though; teachers will always have control over educational process even with the use of the best technology.

About the Author:

Crystal Roman is a blogger and freelance writer for Edubirdie. Her lifestyle credo is “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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Featured Teacher Sheila Slawiak Transforms Her Classroom with Voki

Featured Teacher Sheila Slawiak Transforms Her Classroom with Voki

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This summer, we asked our Voki community to submit their stories on how Voki has changed their classroom experience. We’d like to share with you the story of Sheila Slawiak, our featured teacher winner, who transformed her students’ attitude, engagement level, and integrity in their work using Voki.

Last school year during Q4 I tried out Voki for the first time.  I teach inner city struggling urban middle school students at a Level 4 school and before Voki, no project impressed them!  Then I found Voki and tried it!  To my surprise, all of my students loved it (from special ed to honors); I had 100% student engagement; and I had a student focused class!  It was a huge WOW! For me and for my students.  Even my most  highly risk students produced their product using my project requirements.  Never did I hear, “this is too  much work!”

I do have to admit, I used a lesson plan from the Voki blog as an idea.  Our school requires monthly written essays that show “citing of evidence”.  I took the idea of writing a persuasive essay about the importance of healthy snacks.  I gave my students a text set of 3 articles regarding the pros and cons of healthy snacks so they could synthesize their essay.  I also told them that their audience were 5th graders so they could feel important sharing what they have learned about healthy snacks.

To my surprise, they were so involved with all the activities in order to produce a talking persuasive avatar.  For the first time, there were no moans or groans inundating the lab, or piercing eyes staring at me. For the first time, I was able to facilitate peer reviews where each student really took an interest in their partners’ work.  For the first time, each student wanted to present their findings. For the first time, each student either scored a 3 or a 4 on my rubric vs. 0-3s. And for the first time, I was rated with high evaluative scores from my principals!  We all won and I attribute these wins to Voki!  Next school year, I’ll invite parents!

Thank you Voki for being so imaginative and for not ever settling!

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Sheila is an Instructional Technology Teacher for grades 6-8. She is passionate about teaching educational technology to both her students and colleagues. Shelia has expressed this sentiment on teaching: “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you can encourage all students (no matter what their challenges are in learning) to express their thoughts by utilizing audio applications like Voki that allow students to imagine greatness!”

Character Analysis Meets the Techie Teacher’s World

Character Analysis Meets the Techie Teacher’s World

“You have to be willing to meet them where they are and take them where they need to go.”

I’m not really sure who said this to me, but it has been a statement I return to often as I attempt to guide students into the future, toward careers—some of which do not exist today.   What we do know as educators is that students will need to be able to analyze, problem solve, and communicate in increasingly diverse manners. Analyzing characters in literature provides an opportunity for students to practice those skills that they will later transfer into the workplace.

Meeting Them Where They Are

The students we meet in the classroom today have never known a world without technology. As educators we cannot ask them to power down in order to function in our classroom.  We must power up to allow them to experience a classroom that is a meaningful authentic experience or we will never get the buy in we need to move where they need to go.  One of the many ways my teaching partner and I attempt to meet them where they are is through the use of web lessons.

Taking Them Where They Need To Go

This summer, my teaching partner, Angela Drake, and I began to explore a way to improve student mastery in regard to analyzing how a character changes or responds to the plot as the story moves toward resolution.  We decided that a good starting point would be to engage students in familiar picture books and charging them with analyzing the characters as they move through the plot elements.  Together we created a web lesson that would allow students to select one of three stories to analyze.  You can find our web lesson at www.characterschange.weebly.com.

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Step One Selecting a Picture Book

The SAG Foundation offers a wonderful site called www.storylineonline.net which features popular actors reading a variety of picture books.  This allows students to engage with the story of their choosing in a new and exciting way.  Every student loves choice and Storyline Online offers something for everyone.  We selected three books which offered students an opportunity to analyze how and why a character changes as the story progresses.

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Step Two The Graphic Organizer

The second tab of the web lesson provides a link to the graphic organizer we would like the students to use to gather their evidence to support their analysis of how and why the character changes.  Read Write Think offers a wonderful graphic organizer specific to our purpose.  You can find this resource and many others at www.readwritethink.org.

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This is the graphic organizer we selected from www.readwritethink.org.

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The direct link to this organizer is http://goo.gl/zCJYPo.

Step Three The Writing Plan and Google Docs

Google Drive offers a variety of tools and the best part is it’s all free to use and you are given the extra benefit of your documents, slides, forms, and spreadsheets being at your fingertips wherever you go.  Upon finishing the reading and finalizing the details in their graphic organizer, students are then instructed to create a Google Document to record their analysis of the character.  Students are expected to describe what the character is like at the beginning of the story, how they change, why they change, and then finally, a description of the character at the conclusion of the story.  They then meet with their peer editing partner to review conventions, make suggestions for revision, verify they have met the expectations of the assignment, and review the piece to make sure it makes sense to the reader.  After final revisions have taken place, students can then move on to the next step—creating a Voki to share their analysis.

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A Brief Digression

Teaching students to communicate in diverse ways is an important part of our instructional goals. Using a talking avatar of their own creation gives students the sense of choice and control they need and provides even the quietest student with a voice to share their knowledge.  In fact, Voki became my hero last year when a student who seldom spoke in class created a Voki Book Talk that left me astonished at the insight and depth of knowledge he possessed, but had been previously unable to express.  Here is that sweet book talk  http://goo.gl/CEU5PL.

 

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Step Four Creating Your Character Analysis Voki  

The final step in our web lesson instructs the student to create a Voki to share their analysis.  I’ll let my Voki avatar tell you about this step. http://goo.gl/q9xzSj

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Using the Vokis created by your students as a formative or summative assessment of the CCSS RL 6.3 standard is an excellent example of “meeting your students where they are and taking them where they need to go.”
Where to Find Me

Please join me on Twitter @cariehinkle and visit my website  at www.cariehinkle.weebly.com to hear about the latest adventures in this techie teacher’s World. Also, look for me on Instagram at carieh5 and periodically, as a featured class on EdTech Baton.

A Thank You

Special thanks to my teaching partner, Angela Drake, who is always willing to join me on any adventure.

 

The Voki Weekly: June 16th Edition

The Voki Weekly: June 16th Edition

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“I dwell in possibility.” –Emily Dickinson

Hey Voki friend! 

We’re kicking off this edition of The Voki Weekly with a quote that resonates well in the ed tech community. You can say that poetry was to Dickinson what technology is to today’s classroom—both are vehicles to endless possibilities. Let’s take a look at all the things Voki has made possible this week with its avatar technology:

  • Press. If you’re looking for a well-written read on what it’s like for a company to enter the ed tech arena—the challenges and the excitement—and that also covers the new legislation springing up in an age where students are now accessing technology in the classroom, this article is for you. A special behind-the-scenes look, this article showcases some of the pioneering brands in the biz—and what their products specialize in. We’re thrilled that Voki received a spotlight in this kidscreen news.
  • Trump and Hillary Vokis now available. Have you seen the new Trump and Hillary Vokis yet? They bear a striking resemblance to their Republican and Democratic counterparts. Now’s a good time to start thinking about how you will be teaching about the election come the beginning of school.
  • Voki for Education app now available. Looking for a convenient way for you and your students to access Voki? How about from our new app? You can download it for free in the iTunes App store onto all iOS mobile devices. It’s a perfect way for your students to work on projects in the classroom and at home, and it’s also a great assessment tool.
  • Hooks. Print cards are getting a little old, aren’t they? Have your students make their deserving dads a Voki card for Father’s Day (6/19). Did you see our Flag Day hook narrated by President Reagan? If you haven’t, you can check it out here. Be on the lookout for the Summer Solstice (6/20), Don’t Let Nouns Get You Down Day! (6/23), and Camera Day (6/29) hooks. We’re especially excited about the hook coming out soon honoring the birthday of Eric Carle (6/25)—you know, the tissue paper illustrator and author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Remember, all our hooks are posted on our Facebook, Twitter, and G+ pages.
  • Lessons. Last week, we published 4th Grade Social Studies. The topic was New York: The Early Years. Check out the free lesson here. For Level 3 Subscribers, the entire unit is available on voki.com. Today, Kindergarten Science will be going live on the site. The topic is The Five Senses. Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and G+ pages today for the link to the free lesson.

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and on our blog. We love engaging with our Voki community! If you have any questions, ideas, or feedback, please feel free to email us at feedback@voki.com .

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator

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Voki Teach: An Engaging Way to Teach Common Core

Voki Teach: An Engaging Way to Teach Common Core

 

Hello Voki Users!

I am practically bursting at the seams with excitement. Why? You ask.

Well, Voki.com has just released its newest product— drum roll please….

 

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Voki Teach

Voki Teach is a Common Core aligned, ready-to-teach curriculum, designed by teachers for teachers! 

Let’s face it, as a teacher you spend hours on the internet searching for content, followed by hours crafting your lesson plans and worksheets, followed by hours of wondering if your lessons are Common Core aligned. By the time you step in front of your students to teach, you are exhausted and drained.

We wanted to support teachers and provide students with the chance to engage with rigorous content in a positive, engaging, and meaningful way. And so, Voki Teach was born!

 

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Why Students Will Love It

Voki Teach is an academic experience. This experience allows students to interact with characters similar to the ones they admire on TV, but with a slight scholastic twist. In the classroom, the characters act as educators, mentors, and experts, taking students on scientific, literary, and analytical adventures.

 

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Why Teachers Will Love It

Engaging Common Core aligned content in ready -to-teach form is hard to come by. Voki Teach provides teachers with common core aligned lessons crafted by certified teachers. With Voki Teach, teachers will spend more time facilitating learning and less time preparing materials.

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Here’s How We Did It

Our team of teachers, certified in Literacy, ESL, General Education, and Special Education, studied the Core Knowledge curriculum and molded lessons that they believed would benefit their own students. By infusing instructional best practices, they were able to generate lessons that maximize engagement and foster effective teaching.grades lessons

 

Right now, we have two domains available for kindergarten through second grade. Our team of teachers is continuing to craft engaging lesson plans and presentations. Our goal is to provide teachers with a variety of themes and topics to choose from in grades K through 6th.

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There’s even more  good news! For a limited time, Voki Teach is available for free when you purchase Voki Presenter, or if you already have Voki Presenter!  Now is certainly the time to sign up for presenter if you haven’t already!

Click here to see a Voki Teach Lesson!

Let Us Know What You Think!

We would love to get your feedback! Please take some time to check out Voki Teach and please do not hesitate to share some of your suggestions.

Happy Teaching!

Until Next Time,

Heather 

HeatherBio: Heather is the Community Manager at Voki and is part of the Marketing Team at Oddcast.  Before she joined the Voki team, she was a teacher for 7 years!  She has taught in charter, private, and public schools all across NYC. With her teacher hat on, she will create meaningful, engaging, and relevant content that can be implemented in your classrooms.  She is excited to partner with you to engage and educate your students!