How Leading Educators are Prioritizing Tech Tools for 2024

Technology in the classroom used to involve playing Oregon Trail on one of the four available PC’s in the “computer lab" (how many ways can one person die?). Long gone are those days as we usher in an age of 1:1 computers and digital white boards. Regardless of your pedagogical stance, technology must be integrated in your lesson plans. Kids are finnicky, you know that, so lets dig into some tips, tricks, and tools that will keep your classroom running with high student engagement. 

***BONUS: Teachers, as you read, check out the engaging and cooperative style tools linked throughout the article.***

I was a teacher for 5 years prior to coming to Centre. After 4 years of collegiate education courses and multiple "Technology in the Classroom" seminars, I thought I was prepared for utilizing technology with my students. As any second year or higher teacher knows, regardless of the philosophies and theories, I wasn't even remotely prepared for the classroom, technology included. Kahoots and Google Classroom were the technology cornerstones in my teaching philosophy essay (which each school always required to keep on file for some reason despite the fact that it resembled just about every other teacher's who had copied it from the internet) and I thought I was #winning. After year one I learned, I adapted, and I became better at using technology in the classroom (even though my plagiarized teaching philosophy never changed). 

When COVID-19 rocked our world, technology became both the bane and benefit of my existence. In-class Socratic Seminars became Google Meets and Pear Deck sticky notes (I still hate that resource but you might so I'm linking it), paper quizzes were now Google and Microsoft Forms or worse Mentimeter quizzes, and every morning I held "office hours" for an hour when no one showed up after which I would grade plagiarized after plagiarized essays (oh, the irony) until we could finally enter back into the "hybrid" classroom the following school year. 

But the need for technology had never really changed, nor has it, in our current post-COVID classrooms. We live in a world largely driven by the use of computers and smartphones, knowledge quite literally at our fingertips. So why wouldn't we incorporate it into instruction? Still, many schools struggle with nearly-crippling budget cuts and teacher shortages, and some have had to make difficult choices. Furthermore, IT leaders are given the challenge of balancing technology integration while protecting students and staff from cybersecurity threats targeting their personal information. Not to mention the search history on some of those classroom computers. Geez, students are weird. 

Technology is a requirement. Not that our world changed drastically as far as technology goes during COVID-19, one thing we did learn is that without technology, your classroom is not functioning at its capacity. 

6 Benefits of Technology in the Classroom

Before I get into the benefits, I want to be clear about something I've learned in my transition to Centre. Technology is a must, absolutely, but so is the protection of that technology because hackers don't care whether you're an adult or a student, they just want their information. Before engaging with new tools, work with your IT staff on campus and create a plan to protect your students both in the classroom and on the world wide web. Once that's squared away, your benefits increase. 

  1. Instructors Can Personalize the Student Experience
    The word you're looking for is "differentiation" and every school requires it. Like adults, students are individuals, and in order to foster true learning in a classroom (and not just the kind in that Harry Wong book they give teachers during "new teacher orientation"), students must be allowed to explore at their own pace. Tools like websites, apps, learning games, e-books, and virtual tutoring help the student learn at their own pace. Digital materials can support classroom learning topics, and introduce different teaching methods for each student’s unique learning needs. Google Classroom is basically a classroom staple and the extensions to GC are nearly endless for differentiating learning styles. I would use things like "web quests" for individual learning ownership following by a quick formative assessment in Google Forms. And there's something for everybody at every level. My AP English classes would utilize online AP College Board "classrooms" videos paired with AP style questions (prepping them for the AP exam that was online those years) all while on-level 10th graders were engaging with interactive Holocaust museums and survivor videos paired with new vocabulary lists on Wordle

    Additionally, students love competition and games (generally. You always have that kid who prefers to study quietly in the corner. Remember differentiation?).  K-12 and college students prefer to have technology integrated into their curriculum. Computers, tablets, smartphones, and the internet are the same tools that they use at home. Students are already comfortable using these tools to connect with other students, their instructors, and their institution. In fact, a 2022 Learning Innovation survey found that 74% of students would typically use at least two devices simultaneously for school work.

  2. Teacher Flexibility and Time Management 
    Here is my mantra for the rest of my life: there is no work-life balance for educators. I know it sounds like I'm harsh on the education system but it's largely true. Regardless of what department you were in, you were taking essays, tests, projects etc. back home to grade (besides math, somehow the Math Department never took their work home). Off-periods are consumed with lesson planning and making copies and maybe getting a few "bell work" grades in to meet your weekly and quarterly admin-required grade quotas. But after that, what many don't realize is that a teacher preps outside class to perform in class. You don't get to lesson plan or grade during class (unless it's the coveted "movie day" or the dreaded "test day" which was a double standard because while you get that time back, you're also adding another thing to your list to grade). So being able to adapt your classroom materials to online forums is paramount for your time. 

    Google and Microsoft Forms will grade your quizzes and test for you. AP grading software will offer a "general" AP essay number and Google Classroom institutes a plagiarism check for all submitted written work. Outdated Kahoots (did you know they have a "team mode" now? It's cooperative as well!) are replaced by auto-graded Quizzizz  and Blooket review games. TED Talks Education replaces your length lectures and allows for breaks that include formative assessments. My point should be clear by now, implementing technology in the classroom decreases educator's grading commitments, increases time management and student engagement, all while meeting your gradebook requirements. 

    Curriculums, learning trends, and student engagement can rise or fall on the basis of teacher support. And as parents found out, teaching their "little angels" is not as easy as they once thought. Technology in the classroom would never flourish without the support of instructors, and an overwhelming percentage of teachers are eager to use even more technology in the classrooms.

  3. Remote and Blended Learning 
    COVID-19 forced us to learn new things, students and teachers alike. For some it was an easier transition, but for others it was hardest move from classroom instruction to remote learning. At that time I was forced into using calendar tools and Google Meet lectures that made teaching harder for me and easier for students' predisposition to cheating. But, as we went, I learned better techniques. Screencastify over Google Meet lectures, utilizing Google Classroom's plagiarism checkers, uploading written and screen-casted instructions for interaction instruction. It got easier. Not only that, when we blended back into the classroom (which has become a standard accommodation in some school districts, even in 2023), I could continue to use those tools. Not only were student familiar with it, but it became their norm just as much as it did mine. 

    Remote and hybrid classrooms offer several benefits, including a cost reduction for some schools. Blended learning programs often use e-textbooks to allow their students to have unlimited access to their learning material. Blended environments also support online submission of electronic documents, cutting school costs on paper and other materials. 

  4. Instant Access To Knowledge 
    Admit it, teacher, you've done it before. "I don't want to write this quiz, so I'll Google it and rip off someone else's" (I'm looking at you, Teachers Pay Teachers). The Internet gives students and teachers instant access to answers beyond what’s in their textbooks. In fact, today’s kids are already familiar with “Googling-it” to find answers to questions. The gift of the internet to the classroom gives teachers the chance to give their students a holistic view of any given subject while still giving students the guidance to find the right sources. In-classroom internet research gives teachers the opportunity to teach their students how to assess the quality of the information they find online while removing the one-sided restrictions of a textbook.

    The internet allows for interactive and responsible knowledge learning while teaching students research skills for papers and debates. We live in a world where technology can be used for educational good, so use it! 

  5. Get Students Ready for the Workplace 
    One of the greatest benefits for technology in the classroom is getting kids ready for "the real world." Whether they "do" and go on to be a CEO or "do not" and become an educator like yourself, they will be required to utilize technology. Remote work and digital flexibility is currently the next great movement in the workplace, and students who use technology in the classroom today will be more adapted to using it in the future. The importance of technology in the classroom goes even beyond simple digital literacy: it promotes workplace soft skills like critical thinking, independent research, and cross-technology proficiency. Cross-curricular social learning for the win. 

  6. Improving Tools and Improving Student Skills with Limited Financial Cost 
    Technology toys, like interactive whiteboards, tablets, learning apps and websites, are always improving. Even the ways students access and interact with information is always improving. Developers are conscious of the benefits of technology in the classroom, and a lot of money is being spent on developing mobile apps and e-Learning courses with proven results. Also, tech tools provide a learning opportunity for students to learn about internet safety while staying engaged with their teachers. According to Educators Technology (and specific to the subject I taught), "a larger majority of teachers attest to the positive influence of web technologies on students writing. For instance, 96% view that technology helped students share their work with a wider and more varied audience. Another 79% agree that digital technologies encourage wider collaboration among students and boost student creativity and personal expression." But please, don't forget, with great technology advancement, comes the need to protect to tools. Hackers develop just as fast! 

    On top of all that, by transitioning your hardcopies to digital ones,  your out of the cost to develop and maintain a website are significantly less the investment in additional textbooks and workbooks (websites are also easier to update than a printed textbook). Whatever it takes to teach effectively and not have to use your own money, right? 

Education sector needs to prioritize Technology

You are on the front lines. It's difficult, it challenges you mentally, emotionally, and sometimes financially, but to see them graduate, to see them get the answer right after failing over and over, to see them finally "fit in" with a group because you taught them to be themselves...that's why you're there. Sometimes when you're lost in the day-to-day, you can forget the reason you wake up every morning and fight for the students you get to (or sometimes have to) teach. 

You deserve the time technology will offer you. You're not slacking off by making that test a Google or Microsoft Form. You're not a "bad teacher" because you chose to show them a TED Talk over lecturing them from the front of the room. You're someone who molds minds and helps young men and women understand where they can fit in this world. Don't let the hectic and the chaos pull you away. 

Many educators say that the cost of technology is too high to successfully implement technology in the classroom. However, there are still cost-effective solutions that can help you get the technology you and your students need and deserve in the classroom. If you're concerned, check in with your administration and campus IT team, then contact us

Partner with an IT solutions company that already works with school districts throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma to learn about your options for mobility, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), 1:1 device deployment, and more. Contact Centre Technologies for more information about our education technology solutions today.

Originally published on October 25, 2023

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About the Author

Emily Kirk Emily Kirk

Creative content writer and producer for Centre Technologies. I joined Centre after 5 years in Education where I fostered my great love for making learning easier for everyone. While my background may not be in IT, I am driven to engage with others and build lasting relationships on multiple fronts. My greatest passions are helping and showing others that with commitment and a little spark, you can understand foundational concepts and grasp complex ideas no matter their application (because I get to do it every day!). I am a lifelong learner with a genuine zeal to educate, inspire, and motivate all I engage with. I value transparency and community so lean in with me—it’s a good day to start learning something new! Learn more about Emily Kirk »

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