Education technology is an extremely hot topic right now and mobile apps are the perfect solution for teachers hoping to enhance their classroom experience. There are several ways mobile apps can not only help teachers, but also students and their parents. With mobile devices becoming the norm in school settings, apps are the the perfect enhancement to any curriculum. Here are five ways you can use them to engage your students.
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are changing the way students communicate with each other outside of school. Many of them are collaborating on group projects and organizing activities through social media. Cell phones are becoming common as early as elementary school. Apps can be great tools for announcing updates and information to students in a timely manner. They're being used to also foster communication between students through chat, forums and other features that build on in-person conversation. They're a great option to provide students with the most up-to-date information on their performance and help them understand how to improve without having them rely on office hours.
Apps are the perfect way to get a paperless classroom. Going paperless takes commitment and time, but once the transition is made, the efficiencies that come along with it are endless. Tools like Microsoft OneNote and Google Apps for Education help keep teachers organized and have several built-in tools for educators such as lesson plan templates, note-taking options, and more. Google Drive and Dropbox allow for an organized storage system that beats a physical filing cabinet any day. Many of these also have add-ons that power up their capabilities and allow educators to build their own custom solutions. Apps like Gradebook Pro are great for keeping track of student grades and materials without the pile of papers.
There are several apps that are made for in-classroom experiences. Digital whiteboards are replacing traditional whiteboards and are enabling students to have a more interactive learning experience. There are now also apps such as Doceri that allow teachers to flip back and forth through several class materials such as PowerPoints, whiteboards and screen casts, providing students with a seamless and integrated lesson flow. Real-time collaboration features of integrated solutions such as Google Apps for Education show students they can directly contribute to a project and see the impact of their work. Chat apps such as Skype take learning to a new level by allowing students to personally connect with each other easily, and also connect with those they might not have had access to in the past.
Educators learn the most from other educators. It's exremely invaluable to hear about other teachers' experiences first-hand. Teachers Pay Teachers has an app, where educators from all around the world share resources. This includes everything from lesson plans to classroom activities and decorations. Items sell for a small fee and the platform takes on an Etsy model with reviews for both users and products. Twitter is also a great resource for educators trying to implement technology in their classrooms. Follow the hashtag #edtech for the latest on technology news and even live chats where discussions happen regularly.
More and more apps are being developed to keep parents in the loop. Simple tasks such as push notifications, requests for signatures and record-keeping can be accomplished with mobile apps. Two-way communication between parents and teachers is essential. Apps such as BuzzMob are a good place to start. These apps not only enable parents to visualize what their children are doing, but also enable them to directly contact teachers.
As you can see, mobile apps are the next wave of educational tools and have many use cases for any classroom. Whether you build your own or use apps that are already available, they are sure to improve the experiences you and your students have.
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