“They could walk around in their physical space but be viewing Machu Picchu, which was pretty cool,” Hall says. “It’s becoming more common to see that kind of technology, especially in STEM-focused classes.”
Augmented and virtual reality tools can help make visual, hands-on instruction more accessible by eliminating barriers such as the cost of purchasing materials for every student, Hall says.
“Maybe students are going to complete science labs that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous,” she says. “360-degree virtual reality video allows kids who don’t normally travel to travel. It opens the door to opportunities they might not have had.”
What Are the Advantages of Supporting Pedagogy with Technology?
Technology can help maximize instruction’s impact by offering educators a more dynamic way to present information and directly involve students.
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“If they’re replicating a task they could have done without the computer, it might not increase engagement,” Burns says. “But if they’re using game-based assessments or video, and students are actually creating content, that’s going to be more engaging than just watching a video and reading articles.”
Incorporating technology kids use outside of the classroom into assignments — such as asking students to discuss a particular character from a book — could help drive engagement even higher, Burns says.
“We might bring in new ways for kids to accomplish that assignment, like creating a podcast where they interview a character, with another student in their class taking on that role,” she says. “It demonstrates their understanding and would be more relevant to the experiences they might have as a consumer of content.”
Tech tools such as cloud-based file-sharing and communication and learning platforms can also help educators offer more personalized, frequent instruction.
“More teachers are seeing the benefits of tech and thinking, ‘I used to have to carry a whole crate of papers home to grade, and now I have access through Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams. I can see students’ work in real time. I don’t have to wait until they’ve finished a paper to analyze it; I can provide feedback and support throughout the writing process,’” Hall says.
Today, there’s no shortage of tech tools that could be used in instruction and pedagogical approaches. However, while bells and whistles may entice educators, items that feature them won’t automatically guarantee student success.
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“Technology should be something that adds to your instruction,” Hall says. “Teachers need to think about the task at hand. What do you want your students to be able to do or know?”
Technology, she says, has become much more enmeshed with pedagogy than when she began teaching 25 years ago with a single computer in the classroom. Educators may still be hesitant, though, to use new solutions and devices, even if they feel one might be a good fit for a particular lesson.
“It’s okay to fail forward,” Hall says. “When teachers are trying to match technology with their pedagogy, they don’t have to be experts when it comes to the tech tools, because oftentimes students are quick to pick it up and can actually show us things. If things go great, awesome; if they don’t, course-correct. I can’t imagine, and I’m excited to see, what technologies will help enhance learning in the next 10 years.”