7 Data-Driven Ways Teachers Can Use Technology to Improve Classroom Quality
By Anya Kamenetz
You may have noticed an increasing trend in education today: Teachers doing homework. It’s a trend I noticed after years of teaching and researching education tech, too. Because homework is so popular, we’re starting to see a lot of techniques and technologies aimed at teachers to get them doing more “homework,” including:
Teaching students how to write a persuasive essay.
Getting students to engage in creative exercises that are engaging in the classroom.
Teaching students how to solve problems in math using software such as Scratch, a software that allows kids to draw on a computer screen.
Just as important as having all these ideas from teachers in one place are making them easy to manage and get teachers to work on. You don’t need to do the work yourself to find the best ideas for innovation in the classroom. It only takes a few minutes to do a Google search to learn.
Here are seven data-driven ways teachers can use technology to improve classroom quality
Find out what their students’ homework is about. It’s no secret that working with students through the digital classroom is making it harder to remain focused and believe in your project. With those distractions, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget that you’re actually making progress. During the digital classroom, after the last hour of the day, every teacher has children look up at the screen, rather than looking to find their pens, notebooks, and pencils. Then, write down what they are writing, and do it over again. Ask them why they did the assignment. As a student, I’ve heard adults say that I haven’t worked this hard in years. That’s not quite true—I have never had to go back and complete a teacher’s work, or write down exactly what it is that I am doing and why. Ask them to work independently and help them keep going in their assignments. Several years ago, you didn’t see many teachers working independently on assignments. Teachers are managing and classwork through computers these days. Ask the teacher how they have or haven’t learned about this digital classroom, and ask them how they can use the digital classroom to teach more effectively. Talk about changing your approach to managing the project. As teachers move more of their management and tasks to computers, is their team of management people changing to reflect that? Do they have more direct support to make sure their own priorities are kept on track? What resources do they have to help them work better as teachers in the digital classroom? Find out their current goals. This is a soft and basic skill for all managers: we need to ask for direction, and we need to give direction. To understand goals, we need to talk to the people in charge of the tasks that you’re responsible for. Use that conversation to determine your expectations, and talk to your team about how best to achieve them. Learn from the best. Look for what others are doing that is working and then follow their leads. The younger students in every classroom will always be looking for the newest and coolest features to use in their technology. This may not be what you need at this time, but they can teach you what they really like. Then use this information to draw up your own goals and set up your program to optimize your rewards. We can start to replicate best practices that are already working in other classrooms. You don’t need to invent the wheel here, but you can certainly learn from the best ways that other teachers are using technology.