One meaningful use of education technology is the ability to change how students can share their voice
After 10+ years of exploring and writing about the evolving relationship between technology and teaching and learning, I find |myself asking more often than ever, “out of all of these ideas, what's really working and making a difference?” One great answer to that question has been the subject of a couple of recent discussions I've shared here, and it's really been resonating with me.
One use of “edtech” that jumps right out at to me as a clear win is that it can allow us to move away from the situation in which only the “smart”, confident students are likely to raise their hands to participate in class. Tools that allow for a thoughtful, written reply can produce more meaningful learning moments than the common practice of “calling on” students. It exercises some important skills as well – thoughtful reflection, writing, summarizing thoughts, and more. This is a seemingly small application of technology that can be a big difference maker for some students.
If you checked out my recent interview with Stacey Roshan, author of the new book Tech With Heart, you know that Stacy is an advocate of the power of tech to give students a voice. The subheading on her book's cover reads, “leveraging technology to empower student voice, ease anxiety, and create compassionate classrooms”. Where technology truly shines in our courses and classrooms is when it enables teachers to be caring and to strive to understand and help the students sitting in their classrooms. Stacey is a shining example of that.
Tools and Techniques
So what kinds of tools can be used to this end in and outside of the classroom? If you are using any sort of course management system, like Edmodo or similar tools in K-12, or one of the many popular Learning Management Systems in higher education (Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, D2L, etc.), the classic discussion board is a readily available option.
Of course, a key consideration is what kind of tech students have available to them in the classroom. If they have computers, that makes it easy, but if they have tablets, portable devices, or smartphones the options are also also many. Mobile access is available for many popular CMS/LMS platforms. Mobile devices also work well with popular social media tools, some of which can also work in the classroom environment.
Popular Social Media tools as an Enabler and Opportunity
I just recently spoke with Flipped Learning Network Board Chair Ken Bauer, specifically to dig into his use of social media platforms in his higher education courses. As you will hear in our discussion, social media can be a powerful enabler for students as long as you follow good practices.
Here are a few of things we explore in our discussion (with apologies to regular readers for duplicating much of this list from just a week or so ago 🙂 ):
- Giving students a choice of platforms to connect with (but not too many choices).
- Not requiring the use of social media (the LMS is the ‘fall back' for those who do not wish to engage on more public platforms).
- Using a hashtag to represent a specific course (but not narrowing it to specific terms or sections, thereby gaining a long term resource enabling students to explore the interactions and resources shared by prior students).
- How these interactions in Twitter, for example, can allow outside experts to weigh in. It can be very exciting for students to see that an industry professional commented on their post.
Are YOU Leveraging Tech to Give More Students a Voice?
Regardless of the tools and techniques you use, if you are missing out on the opportunity to expand on the opportunities that tech can give your students to express their ideas, their concerns, their VOICE, then you really are missing out. This is one of the clear “wins” that technology can deliver in today's teaching and learning environment. I'll be examining quite a few others over the coming months.
Teachers – We Want YOUR Input. What has YOUR Experience Been with these Techniques and Apps?
I would love to build on these posts and flesh these ideas out further by talking with teachers who have experience with them, and sharing takeaways from those conversations with readers. Please drop a comment and let's chat!