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.

7wayspic1

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.

7wayspic2

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.

7wayspic3

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.”

Here’s How You Can Write Like a Halloween Story Champ

Here’s How You Can Write Like a Halloween Story Champ

dracula_voki_halloween

If there’s any time to get creative during the calendar year, it’s Halloween. Be it the costumes, the carving, or the confections, this spooky holiday is brimming with opportunity.

From Coraline to Frankenstein, and with the psychological thriller Girl on the Train hitting theaters this weekend, let’s just say there’s plenty of suspense brewing in some of our favorite books.

To be fair, not all of us think in the macabre mindset, but we can certainly all think in the imaginative one. This Halloween season, writing activities are the perfect outlet to tap into the creative voices of your students.

It’s the common rite-of-passage for critically acclaimed novels to be adapted for film. We can’t offer you a budget to get your story to the big screen, but we have something else in mind.

It just so happens that Voki is well equipped to participate in the Halloween writing process with you. Voki avatars do the job in adding animation to your ideas—not to mention social media can get them visibility.

As for characters, Voki has all your usual spooky suspects: Dracula, Frankenstein, skeleton, witch, zombie, bat, jack-o-lantern. But if you steer clear of the haunted path, then we have over 200 characters too choose from that can meet your imagination’s needs.

Teachers can prompt their students to write about anything pertaining to Halloween, but we recommend something that gets them thinking in the spirit of the holiday, something out of the ordinary.

Students can write their essay, and then create a Voki avatar(s) to narrate it. Using Voki Presenter, they can upload images, backgrounds, and links to create scenes and settings for their stories. There’s choice in how you want the story to be told. You can upload audio, type in text and have one of the Voki automated voices recite for you, or record your own voice.

We know: this is starting to sound more and more like a movie, and the students more and more like screenwriters, producers and directors.

It’s Halloween—what better time to think box office big?

FullSizeRender (3)

 

Catherine Alvino is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Oddcast. She holds a BA in English Literature and a MBA with a concentration in Marketing. She loves to write and is proud to work for a company that adds value to learning.

 

Featured Teacher Sheila Slawiak Transforms Her Classroom with Voki

Featured Teacher Sheila Slawiak Transforms Her Classroom with Voki

featured_teacher_canva

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!

featured_teacher

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!”

The Benefits of Hooks

The Benefits of Hooks

How many of you have found yourself in this situation: it is Saturday night and you are watching TV.  All of a sudden, this intriguing movie trailer comes scrolling across your screen.  It is a teaser about this amazing movie coming out this summer.  You are captivated and memorized.  You have to find out as much as you can about this movie that has captured your attention.  You are hooked, line and sinker.  You will be buying tickets online to see that movie as soon as they are available.  Effective classroom hooks are the same in regards to exciting movie trailers.  A great hook gives students a preview of what an amazing lesson is getting ready to be taught and learned. It can make the difference between the best lesson ever and the worst.

Student engagement during lessons is an area in education that teachers are battling on a daily basis.  Dorit Sasson, author of “7 Ways to Start a Great Lesson”, emphasizes that “the most important part of the lesson occurs during the first five minutes.” What is the trick to engaging students? According to “Shooting for Success!  Madeline Hunter Lesson Cycle”, written by the creator of the “anticipatory set” or “hook”, “the hook should excite students about the subject matter.” Hook activities are short introductions at the beginning of a lesson or even a project.  A hook can be a song, rap, dance, game, acting skit, art activity or even a technology-integrated activity that is directly related to the lesson’s topic. Ms. Hunter also states that the hook should “grab the students not focused upon learning. By having an activity related to what will be learned, it shifts their attention to the learning process. Anticipatory set can also establish a readiness or anticipation for what is to follow. For the “hook” to do so, it must pique students’ interest. Otherwise it might do the opposite and turn students off to the topic.”

I have talked about what hooks are and what purpose they serve during a lesson.  Now let’s talk about the benefits of hooks.  Hooks provide engagement, excitement and a gateway into the lesson’s objective that can prepare and motivate students to learn the content being taught.  Students can focus on creating more productive work and hooks make the learning environment fun right from the start.  These activities can tap into the multiple intelligence approach to learning simply by allowing teachers to be creative with the type of hooks used to kick off the lesson. For example, in Using Hook Stations to Engage Students in a Lesson, Hillary Mills, a 7th grade Science-Geology teacher, uses hook stations to kick off her geology/biology lesson.  The stations are set up just like small group learning stations but incorporated at the beginning of the lesson.  Each of the stations incorporates different hands on activities, with the students acting as geologists studying fossils in each case.

Before I became the Voki Content Development Manager at Oddcast, I was a classroom teacher for twenty years with a Master’s degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University.  When I reflect on the years I taught in the classroom, the lessons that resulted in the best student engagement were always the ones that kicked off with an awesome hook.  I would always use different style hooks that would touch on the variety of learning styles in my class to meet all of their learning needs.  Of course I was passionate about integrating technology as much as possible into my lessons!  I really wish I had the opportunity to use Voki Speaking Characters as hooks when I taught. It would have been one of the top software integration tools incorporated into my lessons. I truly believe Voki Hooks capture and engage the 21st Century learner.  There are a variety of ways to use these speaking characters and Voki Hooks are just one way.  The Voki Hook activities guided by the Voki speaking characters provide top level engagement at the beginning of lessons. There are over 250 speaking characters to choose from and some fit perfectly into themed units of study. There are also hooks created to celebrate special days of the year like Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day and National Pencil Day!  Here are some examples of exemplary Voki Hooks—feel free to incorporate them into your classroom lessons:

March Madness Multiplication

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=0eb178c5581f651876fadae5a8980899

Tell a Fairy Tale Day

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=57d2108c6efd565d5bd6b27e4c7e747a

Phases of the Moon

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=494ad0d24e15c7da81c7ea265c7f4cb4

Pencil Day

http://www.voki.com/presenter/playPresentation.php?id=29ec8066dea8748449b852688c46ee5a

Voki also has a product called Voki Teach.  Voki Teach is a library of Common-Core aligned lessons, hooks, and tech project activities in the areas of ELA, Math, and Social Studies. Science and Foreign Languages are coming soon.  Learn more here: http://www.voki.com/teach/home

 

the goldfish and the hook

 

 

Christy_Pic

 

Christina Bazemore is the Content Development Manager at Oddcast.  She was an elementary, high school, technology lab teacher and soccer coach for twenty years.  She received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia Southern University and her Master’s Degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University.  She is fulfilling her lifelong dream of working and living in New York City.  She has one son, Andy and a dog named Shadow!   Christina is a big Georgia Bulldog football fan!

National Hot Dog Day, Kindergarten Math, and More

National Hot Dog Day, Kindergarten Math, and More

National_Hot_Dog_Day.png

 “I’d rather hear it from an avatar.”

Who’s with us? We know the millions of teachers who use Voki worldwide can agree, but we’ll speak for ourselves—avatar technology rocks. No doubt about it, a new chapter of teaching and learning is making an indelible mark in the classroom—and Voki is helping write the story. Read on to learn our ed tech developments—it’s a page (er, paragraph?) turner.

Character Analysis Meets the Techie Teacher’s World

ELA was never so animated. This four-step lesson plan—story selection, graphic organizer completion, written reflection, and Voki creation—will get your students analyzing character development on a whole other level.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Avatars Teach Kids About Democracy

Bring current affairs discussion into the classroom using the Voki Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton avatars. It’s never too early to teach the merits of democracy.

Kindergarten Math: Shapes and their Characteristics

Can you classify a shape without using its proper name? Learn how to use your observe and describe skills in this all-new Voki Teach lesson for your kindergarten kiddies. Geometric vocabulary, including ‘side,’ ‘corner,’ and ‘curve,’ is discussed.

National Hot Dog Day is July 23!

You don’t have to tell us twice. In this hook activity, lend your ear to our Voki hot dog avatar and support his cause—post a picture of a frank on July 23 with hashtag #NationalHotDogDay!

Voki 2.2 Coming Soon

Did you like the above hook activity? Well, there’s good news for more than just our frankfurter fans: our Voki 2.2 edition is due out later this summer. What does this mean for you? More time, less search. Voki Teach will now house all Common-Core aligned lessons, hook activities, and tech projects organized by subject area and grade level and with the same layout as our favorite video resource, Youtube. Share links to these resources, and Level 3 users, edit lessons and hooks to your liking.

The Voki App is Now Available in the iOS App Store

Create Voki avatars at your fingertips with our Voki app. It’s the perfect tool for students to work on projects and assignments. Download it here.

Tune in for Live Coverage of the School Technology Summit, NYC

Voki is attending the Department of Education School Technology Summit on July 27! Catch live updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages to get the scoop on ed tech news from inside the event.

Has Voki had a positive impact on your student’s life?

If so, we would love to hear about it and inspire others! Please email feedback@voki.com and share your story with us. If your story is featured, we will provide your classroom with a free, one-year level 3 subscription valued at $100.

Stay cool, Voki fans!

Sincerely,

Catherine Alvino, Digital Marketing Coordinator

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….

 

vt featured image

 

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!

 

vt facilitate learning

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.

 

vt prebuilt

 

 

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.

vt designed by teachers

 

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.

VP with VT no pricing

 

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! 

 

Teacher Easter Basket! (Sorry, no chocolate…)

Teacher Easter Basket! (Sorry, no chocolate…)

teacher easter basket

The Easter Bunny hasn’t forgotten about the teachers or Blended Learning!    He (or she, for that matter) has delivered  a list of online interactive games (and a read aloud) for you to use!

Not only that!  She (or he) has included ways to use these games and activities as teachable moments and classroom culture builders!

Happy Gamification! And Easter!

Find the Easter Eggs

Capture

Teach your students how to work together by supporting one another during this game.

  • What do we do if our classmate makes a mistake?
  • Why is it important to wait our turn?
  • If we lose the game how should we react?

This is a great way to strengthen your classroom culture with games!

http://www.softschools.com/games/puzzle_games/easter_egg_hunt/

Easter Egg Designer

eastereggdesigner

Get your students’ creative juices flowing.  This activity is great for students who get frustrated with drawing. This activity allows for creativity by just clicking, dragging and dropping!

  • Let your students design their own Easter eggs in pairs (to practice  taking turns)
  •  On the smartboard to make a whole class created Easter egg
  • Or individually (if you have enough screens in the  classroom)

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/eastereggdesigner/

 Easter Egg Candy crush

eastereggcandycrush

Most of your students all probably know the game “Candy Crush”  Use their previous knowledge of this game to build excitement in the classroom. Have them practice teamwork by splitting the class into two groups  and helping them come up with systems to make group decisions.  Then let them compete against each other. Talk about how the competition played out. What did they do well? What could they do better next time?

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/eastereggs/

 Dye Easter Eggs in the Classroom!

virtualeasteggmaker

 

Teach your students how to make  Easter eggs and an Easter basket – virtually!!

Some of your students may not get a chance to dye eggs this Easter. This activity allows your students to engage in this activity without all the mess. Have your students take turns. You could even turn this into a writing activity and have your students write a “How – To”  make Easter Eggs writing piece!

(*IMPORTANT NOTE: Remind them not to boil water/ go near the           stove without an adult!)

http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/easter/games/easterbasketmaker/

“Happy Easter, Curious George”  Read Aloud  

curiousgeorgeeaster

Pop in some think aloud questions/comments, and some turn and talks to get your students thinking during this read aloud. At the end of the read aloud, do a whole class conversation (or grand conversation) about the book to assess your students’ listening comprehension and to observe their level of critical thinking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ATdGIp4V-s

I– I mean, “The Easter Bunny”, hopes you enjoy your basket!

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!