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Classroom Technology & Student Choice: Creative Strategies to Engage Students on a Budget

Thursday, May 12, 2016 -- Shannon LaBree

Just as technology has rapidly evolved and impacted so many aspects of daily life, its involvement and implementation in the classroom has also advanced significantly in recent years. But do students really want all of this technology in their classrooms? According to research from CompTIA they certainly do! As reported by THE Journal, 92% of students say that technology makes learning “more interesting” and 55% would like to see more technology used in their schools.  

But what kind of classroom technology do students want? And what will most effectively drive improvements in student achievement? Not all districts and classrooms can afford the latest-and-greatest trending tools like 3D printers or iPad tablets for every student. So, how can educators on a budget use technology to engage and excite their students while helping them make meaningful academic gains?

Here are three examples of strategies to incorporate technology your students are familiar with into your lesson plans:

Social Media 

Create a social media account for your classroom and rotate ownership between your students. This provides an opportunity to educate students on responsible social media use, and offers parents the chance to get a glimpse of what their child is learning daily by following the account. Social media is also a great outlet for creative expression and making new connections. For example, social media can be used to facilitate “pen pal” style relationships, connecting students and classrooms around the world. This is a great chance to teach your students about different cultures in an exciting, authentic way. 

Mobile Devices 

Most students have at least one mobile device, and you’ve probably had to remind your students at one point or another to put the device down and pay attention. But, what if instead we encouraged the use of those devices as part of classroom learning? One way to do so is to create a simple question-and-answer research game. Take a subject like history and ask a question such as, ‘what year did America gain its independence?’ Then, encourage students to use their phones or tablets to find the answer online. The first person to answer correctly wins! This can be a great way teach new information in an interactive, engaging manner while simultaneously helping your students learn about responsible online research methods.

Skype/ FaceTime 

Taking field trips around the world is difficult and costly, but with Skype in the classroom, you can take your students anywhere, virtually. Skype in the classroom provides virtual field trips, Skype calls with another classroom from around the world, or even guest speakers. For example, if a student or fellow teacher is taking a vacation to the Louvre in France and is willing to Skype or FaceTime your class, turn it into an opportunity for your class to learn about the Mona Lisa or other famous works of art.

Effective use of technology in the classroom doesn’t need to involve a complicated software implementation or costly 1:1 program. Take advantage of the tools that are already at your fingertips and try incorporating them in a different ways to give your students the classroom experience with technology that they are looking for!

Need a little more inspiration? Check out these 10 free digital resources for educators!