Using Technology to Support Learning
By Arafat Gatabazi |
Gone are the days when we would have to sit in a physical classroom not so patiently waiting on the shrill sound of a bell to alert you to the next period of torture. Your concentration wanders, and before you know it, you have no idea what is happening in class, and you’re starving! What an absolute horror. Along comes the year 2020 to introduce us to the fantastic COVID-19 pandemic. Though unprecedented, the pandemic has allowed us to be more open to some of the amazing capabilities that technology has to provide in education and in many other facets of our lives.
Both younger and older students will agree that they have had to embrace technology to adjust to the world more than ever before.
Technology helps us welcome revolutionary structural changes that can help learners be extremely productive without leaving the house! Impressive, huh? Technology combines classrooms with digital learning resources, such as computers and hand-held devices, to support teaching and learning. It promotes opportunities for students, activities, and teaching resources. More so, it supports anytime-learning and builds 21st-century abilities. Did I mention that you can even bring a snack?
How it All Started
In many cases, teachers had little choice but to default to the same content and course structure used in face-to-face teaching taken straight to a virtual video call, as time pressures prevented the opportunities to engage in careful online course design. The speedy transition from traditional to online learning has placed more pressure on multiple groups like the hearing/sight impaired and the non-tech-savvy, essentially leaving them in the dark.
The use of online learning platforms and content formats that were not optimized to meet the needs of students who used assistive devices created additional obstacles to their full participation in online learning. This brings us to making online learning accessible.
Podcasting is a popular yet simple way to make learning accessible by use of audio files. Although this method has been around for some time, podcasting in education provides a convenient way to deliver audio content that students can listen to. All they have to do is subscribe and boom: an instant ‘classroom’ whether the student is in bed or out jogging! Vodcasting is pretty similar to podcasting, with the only difference being that video is added to the audio files. The benefits of both include an easy and affordable way to share and distribute skills easily, quickly, and affordably.
But now what?
The back-to-back Zoom classes are becoming boring and repetitive. You do not even bother to turn on your video anymore, let alone your audio. You are craving human interaction.
Moving even further behind the scenes, developers use several smart, innovative ways to keep learners engaged and coming back. Online interactivity makes up a variety of features that encourage sociability with classmates. These design features help the students engage and range from timers, virtual high-fives, and point systems to competitions, exciting quests, and anything else in between. These tricks have proven to immerse students in course content as well as increase feelings of community.
Developers and teachers make the perfect team in bringing an interesting teaching style to students. They find innovative ways to make use of everyday applications. Facebook groups can be used to live-stream lectures or discussions. Twitter is used as a class message board. Group projects turn into the most convenient collaborative tasks. Information can be shared between students and teachers. All this in the comfort of your favorite pajama pants.
Many free resources exist to enhance the understanding of using technology to support learning and education. Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, and Edx are learning management systems with awesome functionalities. Sometimes a simple visual aid like PowerPoint is all you need to ease into an online class transition. Podcasts also provide an excellent medium for anything from a review to a lecture. Now more than ever, with the world more open to how technology can support and even push forward the world of learning, the possibilities are endless.
Learning Technologist at Construct