Technology has been moving fast in the past few years. New developments have opened avenues for teaching and learning that weren’t possible less than a decade ago. Technology that started out merely as time-wasters and distractions are now being used to enhance the learning experience, and to take students to the next level.
Not all technology is feasible for every situation, and some tactics are more suitable to traditional classrooms than to homeschooling. But there are some things that work in both places, and often they can be done rather inexpensively. Here’s our brief list of three trends that can upgrade your teaching.
Virtual reality’s biggest advantage is that it’s so immersive. It can really put you in the environment. While a large number of companies are realizing this truth in regards to video games, some have realized the potential applications in the classroom. Businesses like ClassVR and Nearpod are designing VR products specifically for students and teachers, and have even put together materials for class curriculums.
With VR, you can show your students the scenes of famous battles, let them explore the wonders of the ocean, or give them the power to travel to space. Virtual reality can send your students to places they would never see otherwise, making them more excited to learn about the world they live in.
VR doesn’t necessarily cost a fortune, either. A lot can be done with a smartphone, a free app, and an inexpensive headset. Even for an educator on a budget, the future is closer than you think.
Learning can be fun, and if it’s done right, the student might not even notice they are learning at all. While not every version of gamification requires a digital device, there are great advantages to using technology to teach through games. You can give the students an excuse to use their phones in class by holding quizzes on apps like Quizlet. Or you can use actual video games to teach—take, for example, Minecraft Education Edition. Designed to help teach standard classes and lessons, the game can also be used to teach students how to code.
For a more comprehensive gamification experience, try something like Classcraft, where you can reward students with XP for good behavior, and exams and major projects are transformed into boss battles.
With a little bit of help, and a little bit of creativity, even the driest of subjects can become a thrilling game.
E-books and Tablets
Tablets are quickly becoming a mainstream replacement for traditional textbooks and class materials. It’s not hard to see why; there are a number of real benefits to using a device over hauling around heavy textbooks. First and foremost, it’s hard to overstate the value of a cheaper textbook. E-books are a cheaper alternatives to hard copy textbooks, and switching to tablet-based texts can potentially cut the $7 billion spent on textbooks each year down to $3 billion. Even homeschool settings can save money by obtaining refurbished or older model tablets for use.
A student with a tablet can potentially have access to everything from their biology textbook to the works of Shakespeare all on the same device. This means fewer back injuries due to hauling around a backpack full of books. What’s more, students learn faster on tablets, and they’re more motivated to take charge of their own education. And even in the absence of tablets, digital textbooks can be viewed from virtually any device, including smartphones and laptops, making a cheaper textbook accessible to nearly everyone.
There are many ways to use technology to enhance the learning experience in your classroom or homeschool curriculum. These are just a few ideas, but don’t be afraid to go looking for more. You might find just what your students need!