Like pretty much any other topic in the universe, edtech now has countless pages, networks, forums, blogs, companies and conferences devoted to it, with aficionados sharing top new tools and flinging acronyms from PLN to BYOD across Twitter. All this can seem a little daunting if you are a teacher coming to education technology for the first time and trying to find your feet, or get the measure of how it all works by dipping a toe in, without necessarily feeling ready to just dive in head first.
With so many complicated resources and tools being branded the ‘next big thing’ or the ‘MUST HAVE’ classroom accessory, it can feel pretty intimidating knowing where to start or how to get a handle on it all. But in reality, to have a connected classroom and to enable your curriculum to benefit from some integrated technology all you need are a few basic edtech tools to start out with. Try these top tips to kick-start your toolkit – you’ll soon be on your way to adding more!
A Class Blog
Starting a class blog is a great first step to entering the digital realm with your classroom, but still feels relatively uncomplicated, remains firmly within your control and can be done easily and simply with self-explanatory tools like WordPress or Blogger. The great thing about a blog is that it is so adaptable – you can use it however best suits your class, whether that means letting your students run it like a news source, or using it to post homework and academic resources, or school updates and information for parents. It’s a great way to start navigating online with your students and will also hopefully lead to some contact and collaboration with other classroom blogs, which could be a step towards another level of digital interaction.
A Twitter Account
Without meaning to sound clichéd, Twitter really is one of the best places to connect to like-minded educators and it’s a huge resource just waiting to be tapped. Joining Twitter doesn’t mean you have to start posting regularly – but it really is a great way to follow edtech tools and developments, particularly using popular hashtags like #EdTech and #EdChat Perhaps even more importantly, Twitter is your lifeline to kind, supportive educators who will always be happy to help you out with questions and queries about any form of EdTech!
An Educational Platform
One of the richest rewards of using edtech in the classroom is the opportunity it offers you to connect quickly, easily and more efficiently with your students. An education platform like Collaborize Classroom is a great way to keep things like documents, assignments, deadlines and discussions all in one place, and really can make the job of administrating a classroom and a curriculum much, much easier. You can even use it to move your grade book online!
A Global Connection
Without a doubt one of the most exciting resources education technology has to offer is the opportunity to connect and work with classrooms from across the world – and this can be hugely beneficial for your students, both in terms of academic and cultural learning. If you only use one edtech tool, let it be a resource like ePals, Skype Classroom or Classroom 2.0, each of which will allow your students to connect quickly and easily with their peers in other countries.
An Online Assessment Tool
Pop quizzes have moved into the 21st century and the ability to test your students’ knowledge using education technology is a core part of digital learning. Try a simple tool like That Quiz, which enables you to set tests on multiple subjects to suit the level of your students, or even to use pre-prepared quizzes instead to save you even more time.
What would be in your essential EdTech Toolkit? Let us know in the comments below!
Image courtesy of Flickr, Robert S. Donovan.