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Here are 6 things to look for when searching for tools to encourage student voice.

6 things to look for when supporting student voice with edtech

Encouraging student voice leads to greater achievement and ownership over learning--here's how to support it

When students feel like they are helping drive their education and have a say in their own learning—having student voice–achievement thrives. That’s been a given, even when education technology was only a pencil and paper.

Many edtech tools promise to help promote student voice, but how can educators tell which to choose?

Related content: How I give my students voice and choice

With years of experience using edtech to engage students, presenters in the edWebinar “Encouraging Student Voice and Choice in the Classroom” identified edtech tool characteristics that support student voice and give students agency in their education.

Six things to look for when choosing tools to support student voice

1. Ease of use: While seemingly obvious, tech resources shouldn’t need elaborate training for students to start using them. Drag-and-drop, point-and-click should be the standard approach. For elementary-age students, it’s best if all actions take place on the same screen.

2. Templates: Eventually, students may want to create their own backdrops, style sheets, etc., but at the beginning, they just want to add content. Having templates for different types of projects allows them to focus on their learning activity, rather than how to create layouts.

3. Broad scope: In addition, templates, layouts, and other standard content should encompass a variety of grade levels, topics, and languages. For example, holiday themes should represent more than two religions. Also, many students and teachers work in multiple languages, and there should be the same level of support as there is for English.

4. Web-based: Because students—and teachers—need anywhere, anytime access, the programs should be available as long as students have internet access. Similarly, the programs should be device-agnostic.

5. Annotation tools: Students should not only be able to create, but they should be able to take notes, make comments, and mark up any creations. This is not only important for students looking at a teacher-created document, but also for when they are collaborating with their peers.

6. Collaboration: The most essential element is the ability to collaborate—student-to-teacher, student-to-student, or even parent-to-student. The program should not limit how students can work with others and learn.

Ultimately, the goal is to give students a voice in their education and, hopefully, to have fun in the classroom. The best edtech tools support student voice and allow students to explore problems and develop solutions, and any tech tool should embrace creativity.

About the presenters

Richard L. Tso leads marketing for PowerPoint, Inking and 3D at Microsoft. He is passionate about education and understanding how people genuinely use technology in their daily lives. Prior to Microsoft, Richard served in various roles including VP of Marketing and VP of Communications at startups and was on the Music in Education team at Yamaha Corporation of America. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in human biology with a concentration in child and adolescent development and media education.

Lauren Pittman is a special education teacher with 12 years’ experience working with students with exceptionalities. She is a graduate of Berry College in Rome, GA and holds a degree in early childhood education and certifications in general special education and adaptive special education as well as an ESOL and math endorsement. She is currently working on completing her Master of Education degree with a concentration in special education – high incidence at Vanderbilt University. As a champion for accessibility and inclusion in today’s classrooms, Lauren travels around the country presenting at schools and conferences on the importance of inclusion and how to leverage technology to meet student needs.

About the host

Adam Parker Goldberg works on Flipgrid’s Engagement Team. Flipgrid is Microsoft’s video discussion platform for educators and students around the world. Integral to Flipgrid’s success is the incredible Flipgrid Educator community which actively carries out the mission to “empower every individual to share their voice and respect the diverse voices of others” and directly impacts the design and creation of Flipgrid features. The Engagement Team serves as a catalyst among and between the community and the product. They share, celebrate, and showcase the ways educators engage, empower, and amplify #StudentVoice. In addition to doing this daily via Twitter and email, Adam loves visiting schools on #FlipgridBusTour adventures and connecting with educators at conferences.

Join the community

Innovation in Education is a professional learning community on that brings together teachers, administrators, researchers, and policy-makers to foster collaboration in improving education.

This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by Microsoft Education. The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

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