Via Edudemic

Contemporary classrooms have moved far beyond the worlds of pen and paper. Many technological advances are helping teachers everywhere engage and educate students of all ages and abilities like never before. Take a look at some of the best recent innovations that you can use to revolutionize your classroom.

Google Drive Aids Paperless Collaboration

Google’s free Google Drive is a powerful and green classroom collaboration tool for teachers and students. Group work is a breeze with Google Drive. Students can create and collaborate on the same Google Doc, then make changes to it whenever inspiration strikes. Rather than working in their own notebooks on many documents that must be synthesized, students can keep all their ideas in a central location.

Google Drive also makes classrooms more sustainable. Instead of distributing a photocopied assignment brief to every student, teachers can share the same document in “view only” mode to prevent wasted paper. Assignments can then be completed and submitted through it as well, which puts an end to that old excuse about doggie-devoured paperwork.

The cloud-based service is part of the Google Apps for Education platform. It’s telling that, by September 2012, Edudemic reported that 72 of the top 100 schools in the United States were using this platform. Clearly, the schools that matter know that it gets results. If your school district isn’t on board yet, you can create a personal account to use Google Drive for free to give your students the same competitive edge.

If you’re struggling to get your head around it, TeachThought makes it simple with an informative video tutorial about using Google Docs in the classroom.

Glogster Helps Students Create Digital Projects

The NCTE Definition of 21st Century Literacies states that students should be able to design and share digital information. Blogging platform Glogster helps them gain competency in this important skill.

Think of Glogster as the 21st century version of a poster board. The site helps students create engaging, interactive projects which integrate text with static pictures, audio, and video components.

Teachers can ask their students to create the virtual online posters known as “glogs” any time they’d assign a traditional poster presentation. The digital format helps engage reluctant students and challenges gifted ones. New Learning UK has created a great 90-second YouTube video that demonstrates how students might use Glogster.

Portfolios Go Digital

Portfolios also have entered the digital age with the advent of ePortfolios. According to the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, the ePortfolios available through providers like Desire2Learn and Digication mix traditional portfolio features with multimedia items.

These ePortfolios allow students to build a record they can be proud of and reflect on their learning anywhere that they have Internet access. According to Stony Brook University, they may even serve as professional, personality-driven portfolios when students are ready for college or full-time work.

It’s important to strike a balance between allowing the ePortfolios to be student-controlled spaces while ensuring that pupils make an effort in maintaining these resources. You may choose to forgo control over the structure or organization of the portfolios but ask for regular contributions of a certain size or length.

Skylight Makes Microscopes Smarter

It’s not just modern phones that are getting smarter. Contemporary science classrooms are also making their microscopes smarter. The Skylight is a smartphone-to-microscope attachment which allows students to capture photos from the microscope eyepiece on their phones.

It has great implications for classrooms, particularly when resources are scarce. A traditional microscope allows just one student to see the image at a time. With the Skylight, teachers can take an image and project it so the entire class can see it. They can then draw attention to particular parts of the image or even send it to absent students via email.

Skylight co-creator Andrew Miller told Mashable the device also helps engage an increasingly tech-savvy generation of students. “Younger people, who are used to always being with their phones, can interact with old technology in a new way,” he explained.

Clickers Help Engage Students

Hand-held electronic devices called “clickers” are changing the way that teachers quiz their students. Students use the clickers to tap in their answers to multiple-choice questions posed by their teachers. They’re a great way to keep kids engaged, particularly in large classrooms. They also help teachers gauge the retention of shy students who may be reluctant to participate verbally.

An Ohio State University study found that students who used the devices during their physics lectures scored 10 percent better on their final exams than students without clickers. They also helped reduce the achievement gap between male and female students. The researchers suggested this could boost the self-esteem of female students and encourage them to pursue careers in STEM fields.

While the studies looked specifically at the clickers’ application in science classrooms, the devices could be valuable for reviewing any topic.

Google Glass Has Untapped Potential

Google Glass has only been available to the public since May 2014, so it’s a little early to assess the impact it will have on modern classrooms. However, educational experts believe the wearable technology could revolutionize the way students learn.

“We’re just scratching the surface with this new, exciting tool,” EducatorU.org co-founder and Glass Explorer Andrew Marcinek wrote on Edutopia. He’s already seen students using Glass to provide firsthand video documentation of classroom assignments and record lectures. At Swallow Union Elementary School, Glass allows students to film themselves with commentary as they solve problems. This gives them valuable insight into the process. Marcinek says that students find the devices easy to use and appreciate their firsthand perspective which cannot be replicated by video recorders on smartphones and tablets.

In the future, we might see students wearing Glass on field trips so they can access facts and figures about the sites they see or learning new languages in real time using the inbuilt translator. Students could use the Glass to share the scientific wonders they discover in their backyards with classmates, and teachers could use the facial recognition function to recall students. The sky’s the limit!

These technological advances and others like them are helping to revolutionize modern classrooms like never before. Implement them in your own classroom, and you’ll probably see them start to pay off right away in terms of student engagement.

This post was originally featured on Edudemic and was written by the staff of Edudemic.

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