Digital teaching tools for everyone from kids to adults
Technology has changed the way we connect, communicate and share information. Now it’s finally changing the way students learn as well as the classrooms they learn in. Teachers are using digital tools and resources in their classrooms more and more, and different programs and educational websites have been developed to fill the demand, such as Khan Academy, Educreations and others. Here’s a look at how teachers use these tools in the classrooms and how students use them at home.
Even when lessons are still taught in a ‘bricks and mortar’ classroom environment, many of the resources available to teachers and students alike are to be found online. You may still use a pen and paper to take notes and use reference books but, chances are, the assessments and projects will be completed online through a secure portal – such as the accounting technician qualification offered by AAT.
Khan academy flips the classroom
Khan Academy is a free online classroom with more than 2,400 video tutorials concerning math, science, economics and more. It also provides users with a program that gives you practice questions that concern the concept you’ve just learned.
Gamification is a current trend in e-learning and badges are awarded for completing levels, rather like a video game, and for correctly answering 10 questions in a row.
One teacher has used Khan Academy in her classroom since 2011, when she completely flipped the format of her classes. This may sound confusing, but Kami Thordarson, a teacher at Santa Rita Elementary School, California, found it more practical to assign students Khan Academy videos at home, conceptual introductions that would typically be covered in the classroom, and devote class time to practice questions.
Thordarson found that homework practice problems are where students commonly are confronted with issues they cannot deal with on their own.
Khan Academy provides her with a dashboard that notifies her the moment one of her students gets stuck. She can then focus on that one student and help him or her through that problem. Thordarson no longer teaches to the middle of the class, as each student goes at his or her own pace, over achievers speeding ahead while others go at a more moderate pace.
Online practice tests
Classroom teachers and their students aren’t the only ones who can benefit from digital teaching tools. Anyone who must prepare for a high-stakes test can use online practice tests as preparation.
Over in America, driving-tests.org has vast resources and practice tests for the DMV driver’s permit. This site offers practise tests in accordance with the state you live in, so you’ll know the specific laws of your state. Over here in the UK, the DVSA offers a free theory test practise on their official site.
Collegeboard.org has resources for those considering college as well as current college students. With practise PSAT and NMSQT tests, advice from Deans and books on college essays, this is a valuable site for students of all ages. It also has tips on how students can learn about colleges they’re interested in before they visit them.
If you’re looking to study in the UK then the British Council’s Education UK may prove to be a valuable resource.
Educreations: Learn anything, teach anything
Educreations is a platform for anyone to either learn or teach anything. Teachers can create slideshows and presentations on this whiteboard, and share them with anyone in the world. Save multiple drafts and create a series of linked presentation that delve deeper into the topic you specialise in. This can be used in the classroom much in the same way Khan Academy is used; students listen to lectures in their own time and complete tangible work within the classroom where they may need help. Educreations is also used for long distance learning for ESL teachers and students.
Students cannot only view presentations, they can make their own. Teachers can assign a topic students must make a presentation on or ask students to create a presentation of their own.