How do educational technology solutions improve teachers’ lives?
Educational technology solutions have been emerging in the 21st century so we, as teachers, should be aware of the opportunities they offer us. Many platforms and apps provide excellent content for language learners, but this time, we are going to check out the features of such products that directly and undoubtedly help teachers’ everyday teaching and preparation process.
First of all, a good admin platform helps to track students, understand their learning path and enables teachers to optimise and personalise the content for improved achievement. On the other hand, these tools also facilitate lesson preparation, not only because they give you valuable insight into the needs of students, but also thanks to the easy-to-use browsing tools.
As an example, we are going to use the Teacher’s Dashboard of the BOOKR Class app as a reference. BOOKR Class is a digital interactive library app for language learners accompanied by an extra platform for educators – the Teacher’s Dashboard. The examples for the features and options are focused on the interactive books, yet the description of the most important aspects can be applicable to other educational technology solutions as well.
1. Tracking students’ activity
Seeing how active students are is key for a teacher, as our aim is to enhance the learning process and motivation. This is unlikely to happen without the proper use of the technology.
Student activity can be tracked in many different ways, using their log in and log out dates, completed tasks or results. The amount of information gained varies on the platform. Based on this,
- You can identify students who have technical problems with the tool, such as the inability to log in or the lack of a device. Therefore, you can identify the problem even if the student is too embarrassed to tell you. In the case of the BOOKR Class app, you can check their names, codes and licenses in the Teacher Dashboard
- You can identify the students who lack motivation and who need encouragement and support in their learning process. In most if not all cases, these students try to avoid revealing their inactivity by hiding their problems – educational or personal alike.
You can start a personal conversation with the student in need and assure them that you care about their learning process, problems and difficulties. A short conversation is a small gesture that can make a huge difference. can make a difference.
If students work, but their processes are not satisfactory, the teacher is able to immediately deduce what the problem might be.
- Their home environment is not conducive to learning. They need to optimise their surroundings to create the most effective learning environment possible. Some very simple tips, such as a discussion on multitasking or the option of learning at school with friends might be effective.
- They might need a motivational environment, such as some company to start working. Working in pairs or in small groups can be just as efficient as working individually and it has many positive side effects, such as improving cooperation, problem-solving skills and even humour. With group work, their academic and soft skills improve at the same time.
- It is also possible that some students are not motivated enough because they For example they need something else than what you, as a teacher, thought would be the best material.
- A task, activity, or in the case of BOOKR Class, a book is too difficult and the student needs a pre-teaching activity before embarking on the task. Based on the students’ needs, you can use an easier warm-up, such as a book from a lower level or a flashcard set before reading.
- Other students might find the activity too easy, and not challenging enough. For them, you could suggest another activity, difficulty level, or an additional twist or activity to make the assignment more sophisticated. With BOOKR Class, you might prefer to recommend another book beyond the assumed and assigned level of the student.
Another scenario is when your students work well. In such ideal conditions, you might find the information from the statistics insightful.
First of all, take a deep breath and praise yourself for creating such a productive and motivational learning environment where your students want to work. Then, observe and analyse their choice of activities, games or exercises they complete. With BOOKR Class, you can seecansee the students’ choice of books and topics, which helps differentiation and the personalisation of activities and assignments. You can get to know your class better. Let’s look at some examples:
- You can build further activities on some of the content or topics students are interested in. If you see that many students completed a given task in time and successfully, it is an indicator that the assignment engaged them and they enjoyed that type of activity.
- You can make an introverted or underachieving student feel good about themselves in front of the class by casually eliciting information about a topic they are particularly interested in. For example, if your student chooses BOOKR Class books about nature and animals, you could concentrate a little on that and involve the student in classroom discussion. Creating opportunities for students to shine is always rewarding.
Then, take a closer look at their achievements, such as their streak, scores or time spent reading with the BOOKR Class app. Teacher appreciation is extremely powerful for students, so praising them, giving awards, a good grade or any motivating feedback, even a smile (or a ‘not bad’ Obama face meme) is a must in the language classroom. A competition can also be generated that keeps them excited and exposed to quality language input.
- Catch up with your students if you can see their results and achievements in more detail.
- In the BOOKR Class app for example, you can see how much time they spent on reading a particular book. This information reflects the reading skills and literacy of the students, or the distractions that might interrupt their reading.
- You can see how many points your students earned for each activity, so you can compare results. It is a great tool for diagnostic evaluation: using that information, you may conclude that they need your attention and extra help.
2. Orienting among content
A teacher dashboard is a well-organised platform that gives teachers valuable insight into the students’ learning process and activity as well as the structure of the system itself. In the BOOKR Class Teacher Dashboard you can see the content of the whole library with every book and flashcard. The search bar helps you can easily find what your students need.
In the case of educational technology solutions for English language learners, you can search for items, e.g. worksheets, games, flashcard sets, books, activity tips, according to their difficulty level. In most cases, just like with BOOKR Class, they rely on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) or use classic terminology that can be aligned with the CEFR (elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced).
Another very useful feature is the dropdown list where you can pick a topic or grammar structure that you would like to work with. These topics are usually the umbrella terms that are easy to interpret, and not abstract expressions fueled by the fantasy of the authors. Simplicity is the key when it comes to admin websites.
With BOOKR Class, you can pick from several dropdown lists (BOOKR Class level, genre, topic, grammar, accent) and you can type in what you need in the search field, e.g.: ‘will’ or ‘countries’.
When clicking on the search results, valuable information pops up regarding the content of the item, and whether it is a worksheet, book or flashcard set.
The BOOKR Class Teacher Dashboard has an extra feature as it is connected to the students’ apps. Once the teacher assigns a book for a student or class in the Teacher Dashboard, it will appear in the students’ app in the “my books”. This connection is particularly useful during remote learning and beyond the school practice.
This feature makes differentiation easier and personalises the learning process, making it more effective.
In summary, when picking an educational technology solution, it is important to check several aspects of the tool, not only the quality of language and visuals, but also how to optimise the content for your students’ needs. It results in a better learning experience, engagement and motivation and of course, the improvement of their linguistic skills and language proficiency.