10 Technology Tools To Engage Students In The Classroom
contributed by Sara McGuire, venngage.com
Technology distracts students, right? Keeps them from focusing?
One solution is to ban phones and computers from the classroom. Another solution is to harness their tech-savvy and engage students with online tools that will help them complete assignments while still engaging them electronically. Whether they’re working on a research essay, a presentation, a science project, or a math report, there are ample tools available to make the process more engaging for students.
Think about it–if students are growing up in a world that requires them to be tech-savvy, then shouldn’t tech play a big role in their classroom experience? Here are ten picks for tools to engage students in the classroom.
10 Technology Tools To Engage Students In The Classroom
1. Google Forms
We’re starting with what’s likely the simplest app on the list (well–aside the from background noise strategy): Google Forms
One of the best ways to engage all students in your classroom is to give students an easy (and even anonymous) way to ask questions, receive feedback, or otherwise reach out to the teacher. While there are many ways to do this, one of the most universally accessible (and free) methods is Google Forms.
Whether you provide specific questions and prompts for students to respond to as an exit slip (e.g., Was there any point during today’s lesson where you were confused?), or you simple leave it as a way for students to post questions anonymously (which can be useful for some struggling students who might otherwise be hesitant to reach out), a simple messaging system or basic form can help improve student engagement.
Like a few others on this list, you’ve likely heard of Socrative, a tool to “assess student understanding with prepared activities or on-the-fly questions, then adjust your teaching based on the results.”
Kahoot! is a handy tool that students can use to create in-class questionnaires and quizzes. This is handy for obtaining data for graphing assignments, data for research essays, and feedback from their classmates. Kahoot! is compatible with multiple devices and has a game-like feel that will help keep students interested.
4. Class Dojo
This is a fun tool to gamify the classroom. Students make their own avatars, gain and lose points based on classroom behavior, discussion approaches, and other soft skills agreed upon by the teacher and the class. Teachers can also use Class Dojo to take attendance and create graphs that breakdown the information for teachers. Not only will this tool encourage students to uphold class values, but it will also provide key metrics to help teachers adjust their teaching tactics accordingly.
Classroom clickers may not be the higher-water mark for innovation in education, but as a simple and useful tool that you can use almost every day, it’s a no-brainer for many classrooms.
This is a tool for teachers, to help assess students’ understanding of concepts and their engagement with the material. With some tools, teachers can project questions onto their screen using while students answer them in real-time. Students’ answers show up on the teacher’s phone screen, and teachers can see which students got answers right and which didn’t. This gives teachers an accurate picture of how students are following the information, and adjust their lessons accordingly.
Note, this is more of a general recommendation than an endorsement of a specific clicker tool or app. The problem with this otherwise ‘no-doubter’ recommendation is that many of the clicker tools are expensive–at least the ones we know of. Plickers, iClicker, Top Hat, and other tools are not only not free but often have monthly subscription-level pricing. If your school has the budget and you put it to good use, it’s likely worth the investment.
Immediate responses from every single student instantly? That’s a great strategy for engaging students.
Edvoice is a feature-rich communication tool with everything from lesson planning and rubrics, to messaging, announcements, notifications, and even tools to help prevent (or respond to) bullying in the classroom.
Depending on what you want the students engage in–you, one another, content, an assignment, etc.–they need to be able to focus, and classroom aren’t always the easiest places to do that. Background noise can not only drown out excess noise, but more helpfully as students concentrate, there is less noise because they’re concentrating. Neat trick, huh?
Create interactive lessons, assess students on the fly, and see data and student responses in real-time. Students that can ask questions and receive feedback at any time are more likely to be engaged.
With so much focus being given to data analytics these days, data literacy is a useful skill for students to learn. Whether your students have collected their own data or they’ve collected it from other sources, being able to visualize their data in an infographic is a highly useful skill. Infographics appeal to both visual learners and textual learners. Venngage offers a selection of infographic templates that students can customize.
Presentations are a core part of the curriculum but let’s face it, PowerPoint isn’t terribly engaging. Prezi allows students to create presentations that are more creative and exciting than was PP has to offer. Not only will this make the presentation creation process more interesting for students, but it will also make watching presentations more interesting as well. Plus, Prezi presentations are published publicly on students’ accounts, so their classmates can access them later to check their notes.
Because so many students are in the habit of multitasking, a good skill to teach them is how to organize and streamline their assignments. Trello is a free and super easy-to-use tool students can use to create workflow charts. Multiple students can be added to the same board; great for collaboration on projects. (See also a better list of ideas for project-based learning.)
Students probably won’t love this one but it’s a useful tool you can use to mitigate the amount of multitasking students can do on their computers. Cold Turkey is a tool that allows you to block certain websites or the internet in general so that students can focus on their tasks. Even having students turn it on for half of a period for some focuses in-class writing time will make a difference in terms of their productivity.
*previously published at TeachThought.com