When we think of the digital classroom, we tend to focus on the technology. But we are not yet at the point where technology can replace the teacher, and we most likely will never get there. This is because it is the teacher’s duty to guide students to use technology responsibly. Transitioning from a traditional classroom to a digital classroom requires more than just integrating technology, it requires teaching strategies to implement technology in the most effective ways. As many education technology experts gather for the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, we’ve come up with 15 strategies that every teacher in the digital classroom should follow.
15 Must-Follow Teaching Strategies:
1. Use Mobile Learning and Social Media to Create A Community
Mobile learning and BYOD are quickly becoming staples of the digital classroom. These models of the digital classroom allow students to engage in the learning process with their personal devices. Tablets, laptops and smartphones expand the boundaries of the classroom and encourage a stronger sense of community, both inside and outside of school. Student can keep in contact with peers and access their assignments and lessons, all on the fly. Social media applications like Yammer also go a long way to promote responsible and safe discourse in an environment that educators can manage.
2. Embrace a Philosophy of Formative Assessment
Formative assessment allows teachers to better gauge their students’ comprehension of class concepts. When combined with digital solutions, struggling students can be identified and receive help before their grades start to drop.
3. Put Communication and Clarity First
Because the digital classroom encourages students to be more autonomous and allows for greater self-regulation, it is imperative that educators communicate their goals and grading standards in a clear manner. Students should have access to real-time feedback on their assignments and be able to view their grades within seconds. This way, students can track their own progress as they strive to meet the teacher’s standards.
4. Take Advantage of E-books and Digital Content
Teachers must look at the benefits of E-books and online resources. The biggest benefit is cost. E-books and online texts are usually cheaper than physical textbooks, and these excess funds can then be used for other resources. The digital reading list can also be continuously updated by teachers to provide the most relevant content for students. There are even websites that curate online information and allow teachers to design their own textbooks.
5. Encourage Handwritten Notes
A recently published NYT article discusses the correlation between learning how to form letters and reading comprehension. In order to gain a greater understanding of what they read, students must be able to construct the letters that make up what they read. Just because teachers embrace E-books does not mean that they should abandon handwritten notes.
6. Upload Online Lectures
Teachers should flip the classroom. Allowing students to view the lecture portion of the lesson plan on their own time puts a lot of responsibility on them, but it frees up a large portion of class time for more collaborative work. This changes the dynamic of the classroom from teacher-focused to student-centered.
7. Personalize Instruction
When students view lectures on their own time, teachers can use class time to concentrate on collaborative work, discussion and any confusion students may have about the class. Personalized learning platforms can be used to engage students and make them feel more excited about class.
8. Have Brainstorming Sessions in Class
Class time can be used to encourage brainstorming sessions. In these sessions, students are free to be creative and express their ideas without being stigmatized for giving wrong answers. Open discourse enables educators to evaluate students’ understanding of concepts and pair these students with peers who compliment their weaknesses.
9. Incorporate Interactive Learning
Interactive learning is they key to student engagement in the digital classroom. It allows the teacher and students to use technology in collaborative ways and get the most out of their digital education.
10. Take the Learning Process Outside of the Classroom
Field trips have always been a great way to engage students with relevant real-world experiences. The digital classroom allows teachers to take this even further. Teachers can bring virtual reality into the classroom, or they can use Periscope, a livestreaming app which gives students the opportunity to observe different cultures and lives around the world.
11. Establish Peer-Assisted Learning
Using digital tools like OneNote, educators can encourage peer-assisted learning in the classroom. Completed assignments can be shared and accessed by different students, and students can offer their suggestions for improvement in the documents themselves.
12. Diversify Projects
One of the benefits of the digital classroom is that it allows educators to step away from the traditional classroom and implement new and fun teaching strategies. Instead of book reports, try a video summary. Instead of essays, have students create their own podcasts. Digital natives are already familiar with these tools, and teachers should take advantage of this to make the classroom more interesting.
13. Restructure the Classroom
The spaces we create impact our identities. Classrooms are no different. Rearranging the classroom space is an easy way to enhance student engagement and facilitate the flow of information. It also gives students greater autonomy by taking away the restrictions of traditional seating charts. Create your own classroom café and allow your students to freely move around it.
14. Give Breaks
Traditional pedagogy has shied away from breaks, but with the amount of digital consumption that takes place in the digital classroom, breaks are needed to avoid screen addiction. Educators should establish times when students cannot access their devices. Short bursts of physical activity revitalize students and combat educational fatigue.
15. Seamless Integration and Management
The less time students spend navigating the digital classroom, the easier it is to keep them focused and engaged. When implementing digital tools, teachers should consider combining them into an easily accessible user-friendly digital classroom.
With a UI design solution like LiveTiles Mosaic, this integration has become a breeze. By simply selecting the tile with the functionality they desire, educators can create an engaging digital classroom. As the screen shot below visualizes, in-class assignments, readings and social media tiles can all be placed on the same page. Mosaic runs off of Microsoft SharePoint and is free for any K-12 class with an Office 365 tenant, which means that the digital classroom is safe and secure, and can only be accessible to those with the proper login credentials.
Digital technology has changed our lives. It has changed the way companies conduct business and the way people communicate on a daily basis. It has also changed education. Many teachers are joining the digital classroom, and it’s important that they develop teaching strategies to effectively guide students through the learning process. Without these teaching strategies, the digital tools are useless.