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The Digital Classroom: Enhancing Student Engagement Through Educational Technology

Educational technology (Edtech) has undeniably transformed the learning landscape, with a steady increase in digital classrooms across K-12 schools and higher education. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a necessary adoption of Edtech for schools, colleges, and universities, and many of these tools are now integral to the learning environment. Although there are common barriers educators articulate when acquiring new technologies, research shows that, when strategically harnessed, modern Edtech can cultivate a dynamic and participatory learning atmosphere and strengthen student engagement.

92% of teachers believe technology has a positive impact on student engagement in learning.” 

What Makes a Good Classroom?

The essential priorities for successful classroom management remain the same regardless of whether learning is virtual, hybrid, or in-person. This article will explore what constitutes a good classroom, common obstacles concerning new classroom technologies, and how Edtech can help overcome these barriers and support teachers and students in their needs and goals.

Relationships and Communication

Barrier: Concern by educators that a technology-focused learning model can isolate students, increase dependence on devices, and jeopardize interpersonal connections.

Cultivating robust teacher-student relationships within a classroom environment is important. Edtech can bolster these connections by complementing and amplifying the human-to-human experience. When students are absent or educators are dealing with large class sizes, communicating with all students equally while nurturing a positive learning environment can prove challenging. Instead of isolating students, Learning Management Systems like Google Classroom and Brightspace allow students to interact immediately with their teacher and classmates, regardless of whether they are in the room physically or virtually. These platforms can also enhance peer-to-peer relationships. Group assignments can be challenging if students are required to be in the same physical space to complete their work. With online discussion forums and real-time knowledge sharing, all content is accessible to all students synchronously, and students are not limited to a time or place. They can collaborate, share ideas, and work together at any time, from anywhere. 

Collaboration and Equality

Barrier: Educators often lack confidence in the positive outcome of new technologies and are skeptical that Edtech can have a favourable impact on student learning.

Communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams, that allow for student collaboration, have revolutionized group work and team assignments. Not only are students able to work collectively on projects in real-time (without location challenges), the contributions of each team member are visible at each step. This can motivate students to engage both with each other and with the content, while staying accountable to their peers. An educator can also track students who are struggling or not contributing, and is able to provide timely, specific and personal student feedback while the project is in progress. In addition, students can access software to support different learning styles. For example, students who require assistance for reading or writing, can use digital support like texthelp to accommodate their learning needs, creating a more equitable educational environment. When educators utilize technology to facilitate connection and optimize equitable learning, these platforms can streamline the teaching process and promote connection in the classroom.

Engagement and Feedback 

Barrier: Educators can view learning a new digital tool as one extra responsibility for them to undertake, especially in an environment that already involves a constant flow of information and entertainment.

Learning outcomes are best when students are engaged. Students are more likely to apply themselves when content is interesting and they receive responsive and instructive feedback. While a digital classroom can give students access to unlimited information, Edtech permits educators to streamline and focus what information students are engaging with and how. Grading tools allow specific, detailed feedback at a faster rate, and are indispensable to the digital classroom. By allowing immediate and personalized responses, grading essentially becomes a conversation between a teacher and student. This can foster a deeper understanding of the content while strengthening the teacher-student connection. Platforms like Kahoot and Prodigy that gamify learning or Unimersiv and Discovery VR which offer educational experiences through virtual reality can also greatly enhance student engagement, while promoting focused learning. As mentioned above, different students have different learning styles. Gamification of content and experiential learning allow teachers to create unique, relevant and creative opportunities for students to engage with how and what they learn.

Interaction = Engagement 

Productivity and Time Leveraging

Barrier: A common objection to Edtech adoption is, “I don’t have time to learn and navigate another platform.” 

Grading hundreds of paper-based assessments with a red pen can be tedious and time-consuming. Using online grading solutions, educators can grade three times faster while leaving more formative feedback for students. AI assessment tools allow educators to draw on automated support to refine their grading process, saving time to enhance commentary or create other learning opportunities. Platforms that automatically grade multiple choice exams and/or simplify marking tasks (without affecting a student’s direct learning experience) boost productivity and increase efficiency without hindering the personal interaction between teacher and student. While navigating a new platform may involve  some investment of time at adoption, the time-leveraging benefits are far-reaching.


“81% of students feel that digital technologies improve their grades and efficiency.”

Reflection

Educational technology will inevitably continue to evolve and further impact the educational landscape. While there will always be challenges with the adoption of new technologies, if the focus remains on student engagement and essential learning priorities, teachers and students can use these tools to promote a powerful and participatory learning environment. 

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About Crowdmark

Crowdmark is the world’s premiere online grading and analytics platform, allowing educators to evaluate student assessments more effectively and securely than ever before. On average, educators experience up to a 75% productivity gain, providing students with prompt and formative feedback. This significantly enriches the learning and teaching experience for students and educators by transforming assessment into a dialogue for improvement.