We share 12 tips to ease the transition into using educational technology in your classroom.
Educational technology plays an important role in the classroom, and this role is only increasing in importance as time goes on. In today’s classrooms, more and more schools are implementing technology into their lessons, whether that means using an interactive whiteboard, increasing accessibility through the use of laptops and spell-check, or committing to working with an algorithm-driven digital curriculum such as Bedrock Learning. However, despite its increasing popularity, there are pros and cons of implementing educational technology.
Introducing educational technology to your classroom requires organisation, effort and consistency if it is to boost productivity and improve outcomes. In this blog, we list 12 important factors to consider before introducing technology to your school so that you can make the most out of your new tech.
1. Set the rules for student use
When introducing technology to the classroom, it’s crucial to make the rules transparent about how you expect that technology to be used. For example, if you’re incorporating quizzes or homework tools that require learners to use their personal mobile phone, make it very clear that only at specific times are learners expected to be on their phones, and that anybody caught doing something non-work related on their mobile phone will face consequences.
One of the advantages of implementing technology is that it helps to avoid miscommunications. When homework tasks are assigned in writing rather than verbally, you can be sure that every student sings from the same hymn sheet. However, it’s still important to be clear about boundaries and expectations - allowing technology in the classroom means being very clear about which technology, when, how and why.
2. Keep it simple
Despite the benefits of educational technology, don’t feel pressured to implement every tool in your arsenal at once. In fact, trying to introduce too many varying types of educational technology will make each of them less effective.
Select the type of educational technology you believe your learners will benefit from most, whether that’s a physical piece of technology like a SMART board or a digital learning curriculum, and focus on consistent implementation and acquiring buy-in from other members of staff. One type of educational technology utilised across the curriculum is more effective than many types of educational technology used inconsistently.
3. Avoid time suckers
Many types of educational technology are designed to save teachers time. If you find yourself spending more time than you are saving, or than you are seeing in your learners’ results, then maybe you should think about using the technology differently, or switching to a different kind of technology altogether.
For example, if you’re introducing a homework hosting application to your class but find yourself spending more time marking work than you were previously, it may not be worth the effort - whereas an algorithm-driven learning curriculum might save you time where you need it most.
Make sure to match the educational technology method you’re trying to implement with your needs as a teacher and as a class.
4. Student-friendly software
As well as being suited to you, it’s important that any educational technology you implement is user-friendly and intuitive for your learners. If you’ve found a piece of technology that saves you time, you’ll almost certainly be tempted to keep using it, but what matters most is that it improves the learning experience for your students.
That doesn’t mean that educational technology that makes teachers’ lives easier has no benefits for learners. Teachers with sufficient time have more energy to devote to the teaching content that truly matters. However, you’ll see better results from your educational technology choice if it is time-saving for you and easy to use for your learners.
5. Prepping the classroom
Prepping the classroom effectively depends on the type of educational technology you’re implementing. If you’re introducing an online learning curriculum, here are some of the ideas our Bedrock schools have used to prepare their classrooms:
- Creating a Bedrock word board, where the words students are learning on Bedrock are put on a display to expand the whole class’s vocabulary
- Booking a computer room for a lesson every one or two weeks for learners to complete their Bedrock work
- Encouraging competition between classes by making a Bedrock points leaderboard
If you’re using an unfamiliar interface, why not make a display in your classroom explaining to students how they can log in and complete their work?
6. Getting the right tech
Getting the right tech is about identifying what your learners need most.
- Do they need explicit vocabulary and grammar tuition to boost their literacy?
- Do they need consistent Tier 3 vocabulary instruction?
- Do they need a tool that facilitates scaffolding?
- Do they need structure?
- Do they need additional support in reading and writing?
Each of these specific educational needs requires its own educational technology. Many of our Bedrock schools use Bedrock Learning to tackle their overall goal of whole-school literacy and vocabulary improvement - get the right tech that fits the goals of your school.
7. Who pays for what?
Making an argument for implementing educational technology means demonstrating its necessity to key stakeholders, who can then allot part of their budget to new tech. However, the finances of new educational technology depend on the budget they are taken from.
If you’re using new tech in your computer lessons, perhaps that money could be allotted from the IT budget. If literacy technology is a key part of your school’s literacy plan, then maybe it could come from the English budget. Some schools use digital learning curricula to close gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students, and use their Pupil Premium funding to implement this tech.
The key feature between all of these is that you have to demonstrate the usefulness of this new technology and its potential benefits on your learners - this is where it is important to delve into the data behind why a certain type of educational technology is so effective.
8. Ensure new educational technologies are accessible
Suitable accessibility means different things for different learners. It could mean ensuring the colours used in the new technology are high contrast, or checking that new tech has built-in or compatible spell-check software. Regardless of the specific needs of your learners, ensure that any new educational technology you implement is accessible for all of your students - better yet, that it has options to customise the layout and interface to appeal to all learners.
Some forms of educational technology, such as virtual classrooms and spell-check software, are designed for the purpose of increasing accessibility. If you have learners in your class who need additional support accessing the work they are being set, prioritise their needs to make sure every learner in your class has equal opportunity to thrive.
9. Don’t get technology for technology’s sake
This relates to the previous point: avoiding overcomplicating the implementation of educational technology. Trying to tackle too many types of technology at once ends up with all of them being applied inconsistently - no matter the data-proven benefits of a certain type of technology, when not applied consistently, your learners will lose out on the positive effects.
As powerful a tool as educational technology can be when implemented thoroughly, few benefits will be felt if its implementation comes at the expense of proper lesson structure and scaffolding techniques. Selecting and embedding the right technological choice takes time, so only dedicate your time and effort if you’re confident a new piece of technology will be a great fit for your school and your learners.
10. Understand the limitations of certain technology
As effective as educational technology can be, it’s not human. Technology is no replacement for strong teaching in the classroom. For example, spell-check is a fantastic tool, allowing students who struggle with spelling to convey their thoughts in a way that others can understand - however, no amount of spell-check software will allow a learner to understand the concept they’re writing about, even if they’re able to spell it. For true understanding of a topic, learners need a great teacher.
It’s the same for a digital curriculum. These types of educational technology, such as Bedrock Learning, are ready-made with a bespoke curriculum ready to teach learners - however, without motivation by teachers and implementation in the classroom (or support from parents and guardians at home), there’s a limit to how effective these curricula can be.
Educational technology is at its most effective when combined with in-person learning, giving learners the balance they need to thrive.
11. Don't depend on technology
There’s nothing quite like having your entire lesson planned on a digital platform, only for the wifi to cut out at the last minute. As technology becomes more advanced, we can hope that situations like these will happen less and less frequently, but tech still isn’t 100% reliable, and it’ll always be the situations where you want it to work the most that it will malfunction.
Educational technology is a fantastic supplementary tool, but it shouldn’t form the foundation of your teaching; always have a back-up plan. Technology should only make up part of what makes your teaching brilliant, and no amount of educational technology will make up for the high-quality teacher-student encounters in-person learning provides.
12. Choose the right technology partner
If you’re looking for a universally-beneficial, accessible, time-saving solution, Bedrock Learning is a fantastic choice for an educational technology partner.
Bedrock’s core curriculum teaches the vocabulary and grammar skills learners need to thrive, both in the classroom and beyond the school gates. Not only is this beneficial in English, but a wide knowledge of Tier 2 language has proven benefits in every subject across the curriculum. Explicit teaching of vocabulary and grammar closes the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged learners, helping all students communicate more effectively in every discipline. The deep-learning algorithm behind Bedrock saves teachers time spent marking, analyses learners’ assessment data, and motivates students to work independently through the Bedrock points system.
As well as this, Bedrock’s Mapper tool allows teachers to create, edit and utilise their own Tier 2 and Tier 3 subject-specific vocabulary curriculum. With over 20,000 Bedrock-created words on Mapper, teachers can implement a ready-made vocabulary plan in just a few clicks. Teachers from your school, your academy trust and even the world can choose to share resources and curriculum plans with one another, saving you time and money.
For schools with a goal of improving disciplinary literacy and encouraging a school-wide approach to literacy, Bedrock’s core curriculum and Mapper tool are brilliant choices - simply click the button below to arrange a meeting and find out more.