Options of various applications continue to become available specifically catered toward education. However, it is essential to remember two important frameworks that help guide successful technology integration. The first is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK), a framework that identifies three areas of consideration when planning technology integration. As you plan, consider how technology is utilized based on the SAMR model: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.
Meaningful Technology Integration
It is important to remember that we should not just use technology for the sake of having it in our classroom. Instead, technology has a limited and specific purpose based on the TPACK framework and SAMR model (Parsons, 2020). Some applications support good practices better than others, and I want to highlight three applications that could be used frequently and meaningfully in your classroom.
Technology use in the classroom should not just be a gimmick or buzzword. It should be seen as a tool that helps facilitate learning. When technology is being integrated meaningfully, no one stops to think that they are using a tech tool. No one stops to say, “Hey, we are now using a marker.” The same is true for technology. It should be relevant, meaninful, and connected to learning.
Formerly known as FlipGrid, this application quickly caught the attention of Microsoft as a startup in 2018. Today, Microsoft makes this online application available for free. It allows educators to create discussion activities within their community of learners.
Flip can achieve multiple ISTE standards that guide the overarching technology usage skills (Trust, 2017). However, the application stands out in its ability to create creative communicators. Once a prompt or instruction is provided, students post their video responses. Responses can be cropped and edited. These tools add an extra layer for students to express themselves. The dialogue continues since students can leave video comments on other students’ posts.
Make learning fun and engaging.
ISTE standards are standards set by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to guide the best practices for using and teaching technology in learning environments. Students must be prepared to thrive in a constantly evolving technological landscape. The student section of the ISTE Standards is designed to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process.
There are several activities available. This helps with the planning process. If you find an activity you like, you can edit it to match your classroom. If it has not been created yet, contribute it for other teachers to use.
One of the standout features is the ability to add a rubric if necessary. Using a rubric or a set of criteria to assess the performance provides more objectivity to grading and clarity to students on what is expected. It is a great idea to leave an exemplar that you created to give further clarity. You will also find that by role modeling, you will create a safe environment students feel open to sharing.
The application includes several privacy and security features to prevent people from outside your classroom from accessing the content. As a Microsoft product, it includes industry-leading education security and privacy commitments.
Nearpod is a simple-to-use interactive tool that provides immediate insight into your student’s understanding. This is an excellent tool for formative assessments and adjusting lessons based on that data. Nearpod can enhance your lessons by adding interaction, videos, gamification, and online activities.
As you conduct your lesson, the application provides visual feedback on student understanding and progress. This allows you to offer immediate support or even change your lesson. This is a powerful tool that allows teachers to adapt instructions in a way that was not possible before.
There are several built-in formative assessment tools. Some of the tools are digital substitutions for common formative assessments such as quizzes, while others redefine the assessment process. As you collect data, you can differentiate instruction for groups you create or assign modified assignments to specific students. This application supports better inclusion, and increasing inclusion promotes more significant academic benefits, improved critical thinking, and higher overall achievement levels for the entire class (Bowman, 2010; Molina et al., 2021). You can easily individualize the learning experience and take learning beyond the classroom.
Nearpod has a database of premade lessons created by professional educational companies and other teachers. You can create your own and share it with the community. Utilizing the dynamic media and features of the Nearpod lesson you adapt or create, you will be able to facilitate learning better and improve student outcomes.
Those who would like to take interactive lessons to the next level can consider Explain Everything. In simple terms, this application can modify and enhance the capabilities of your whiteboard. Explain Everything will help you create engaging lessons and interactive lessons. You can assign activities and tasks directly from the platform and manage performance. For those with Promethean whiteboards in their classroom, you can leverage additional features with Explain Everything.
This application could be used daily to record instructions and give interactive presentations. Lessons could be a form of blended learning or used as a flipped classroom to help prepare students for the next class content. I think the most powerful feature of Explain Everything is the ability to record lessons. All students can review lessons as necessary, or absent students can maintain progress with the class.
This is not just a teacher application. Students can also use the application to demonstrate their understanding. You can provide digital feedback to students’ projects and use it as an assessment. The entire class can use the material students create to share and build a culture of peer learning. Peer learning will increase student motivation and student success (Tullis & Goldstone, 2020). Projects could be done independently or collaboratively.
As with the other applications listed, you can use premade content or share content with other teachers. This helps to manage precious planning time efficiently. Even if you decide not to share, your content will be available for next year and serve as a central repository for your digital lessons.
There are several applications available online. Some applications have limited and specific purposes, so they are used sparingly. The applications listed above have the potential to be used every day. Furthermore, they have the ability to be used in various ways so that students are exposed to novelty. Finally, all of the applications listed support the TPACK framework and SAMR model.
As you create, please share your work with our school’s community. It will help other teachers see the potential of each application. Below, I have created an example of each being used from different subjects.
Bowman, N. A. (2010). College diversity experiences and cognitive development: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 80, 4-33. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654309352495
Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2009). An Educational Psychology Success Story: Social Interdependence Theory and Cooperative Learning. Educational Researcher, 38(5), 365–379. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X09339057
Johnston, O., Wildy, H., & Shand, J. (2022). Teenagers learn through play too: communicating high expectations through a playful learning approach. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-022-00534-3
Molina Roldán, S., Marauri, J., Aubert, A., & Flecha, R. (2021). How Inclusive Interactive Learning Environments Benefit Students Without Special Needs. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 661427. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661427
Parker, R., Thomsen, B., & Berry, A. (2022). Learning Through Play at School – A Framework for Policy and Practice. Frontiers in Education. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2022.751801
Parsons, P. (2020). TPACK & SAMR: Real Frameworks for Evaluating Instructional Technology. AALL Spectrum, 24(4), 33–36.
Trust, T. (2017). 2017 ISTE standards for educators: From teaching with technology to using technology to empower learners. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 34(1), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2017.1398980
Tullis, J.G., Goldstone, R.L. (2020). Why does peer instruction benefit student learning? Cognitive Research, 5(15). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-020-00218-5