Times have changed since “classroom technology” mostly meant students trying to hide their iPhones under their desks.
EdTech is sweeping across schools – and bringing a wave of change with it.
Some of this change is simply solving some of the challenges that have plagued teachers for decades; things like communicating with parents, creating learning support materials, or keeping kids engaged.
But some of it is fundamentally changing the way learning is delivered. It’s allowing teachers to make classrooms more equitable and accessible. And it’s targeting some of the overlooked struggles that make learning more difficult for some kids, giving teachers the tools they need to help them fully participate in learning.
Let’s take a look at some of the technology that’s having the most impact today.
Kahoot! is already a familiar tool for most teachers
credit: Kahoot!What is it?: For most teachers, Kahoot! will need no introduction; in the last few years, the customizable quiz platform has become a mainstay of almost every student’s classroom experience.
How it works: Teachers can either select from hundreds of pre-existing quizzes in the Kahoot! ecosystem, or (most importantly) create their own quizzes that fit their students and their curriculum.
How it’s changing learning: It’s a fast, easy way to get kids engaged and interacting with the lesson content. Since pop quizzes like these are a great way to improve memory retention, teachers often use Kahoot! to recap at the end of a lesson, but it’s also a great way to help students warm up their brains at the beginning of the day.
ClassDojo makes communication easier
credit: ClassDojoWhat is it: A communication platform that makes it easy for teachers, students and their families to keep in touch securely.
How it works: Users can send messages and share content like photos and videos from almost any device. ClassDojo also includes a translation service that allows users to read any message in their native language.
How it’s changing learning: Getting important information from teachers to parents – and vice versa – is always a challenge, especially when your students are young. For most teachers, communications with parents still rely on calls home or sending kids home with a letter in their hand.
ClassDojo makes it very easy to keep parents in the loop, without compromising security.
Teachers can also use ClassDojo to assign activities to students and rate a student’s behavior, helping parents stay up-to-date with where their child is struggling – or triumphing! – on a daily basis.
Canva gives teachers access to powerful design and publishing tools
credit: CanvaWhat is it?: Canva is an online design tool that aims to ‘empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere’ – which essentially means making it easy to create visual content like leaflets, worksheets, posters and presentations.
How it works: Teachers can choose from a wide selection of templates – plus a huge range of fonts, images, shapes and design elements – to create the content they need. Canva runs in the browser, so there’s no need to download any software; teachers can just open up the site, complete their design, and then save it to their computer.
How it’s changing learning: Giving teachers a free tool that’s also easy to use is invaluable when it comes to creating worksheets, slides, posters and other classroom materials. With Canva, teachers can achieve a level of quality that would have been completely unattainable before – which gives them way more opportunities to engage students and get creative.
Voice Selector Study
Voice Selector Study cuts through noise and helps students focus
credit: Nuance hearingWhat is it?: Voice Selector Study is a small tabletop device that hones in on the voice of the teacher and tunes out distractions for individual students.
How it works: Students can plug any wired headphones into Voice Selector Study to hear the voice of the teacher more clearly and reduce background noise. It’s built on world-leading acoustic beamforming technology, which uses an array of microphones to focus in on sounds coming from a certain direction (in this case, usually the front of the class).
How it’s changing learning: Paying attention in a noisy environment can be challenging for the best of us, but it’s even harder for children, who often struggle to filter out noise or use context clues to guess what a teacher might have been saying underneath all the hubbub.
That’s why this type of technology can be life-changing for kids, especially those with ADHD who find concentration a challenge or get easily overwhelmed by noise. Compared to other tools that amplify the teacher’s voice across the whole classroom, voice amplification tools like this are an excellent way to help kids participate fully in learning, without cutting off the potential for two-way communication between teachers and students.
Achieving calmness and focus is at the heart of Headspace’s mission
credit: HeadspaceWhat is it: Headspace is a science-backed meditation and mindfulness app designed to help reduce stress and improve mental health. It’s already used by adults all over the world to change thinking patterns and sleep better, but it’s increasingly being used by educators as a way to promote mindfulness in the classroom and support students better.
How it works: Headspace offers free access to K-12 (primary-secondary) teachers in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. With it, schools get everything from guided meditations to classroom posters and tools to help students practice mindfulness.
How it’s changing learning: Teachers have known for years that students’ mental health has an enormous impact on their learning – but, it’s often been difficult to give kids the support they need in a classroom context. A free tool like Headspace can make a real impact, as well as give students mental health skills they can use for life.
Better, deeper, more accessible learning, powered by tech
As EdTech continues to boom, it’s becoming more and more clear that the best tech empowers teachers, students and parents to participate fully in the learning process.
From simple quiz platforms like Kahoot! to advanced focus devices like Voice Selector Study, or innovative tools like ClassDojo, the EdTech that is truly driving change slots seamlessly into the rhythms of everyday life in the classroom.
And, in doing so, it does what educational technology should do: enhance abilities, remove barriers, and open up new opportunities for students.