3 ways teachers can make learning more interactive

From gamification to crowdsourcing, improve learning with these interactive elements

interactive-classroomToday’s students are a uniquely interactive group. Most of the 80 million Americans who are part of the millennial generation—a group that comprises the lion’s share of today’s student population—can’t remember a time when they didn’t have instant access to the internet.  Most of them grew up playing video games, and ever since they can remember, they’ve been in constant contact with friends via social media platforms and text messages. A growing number of today’s instructors also fall into this group.

Educators who want to reach students who favor interactive communication know that integrating digital tools into their lesson plans can be an effective strategy, and many have incorporated technology tools into the classroom in one way or another. But to make a real difference, educators have to integrate technology in a meaningful way. It’s not sufficient to just use social media platforms as an alternate communication venue or post schedules on a class Facebook page.

So how can educators use technology in a more meaningful way? Here are three methods educators are successfully using to connect with a new generation of students in the classroom.…Read More

New instructional technology for the 2011-12 school year

Toshiba is marketing its Thrive tablet as a tool for education.

New tablets that aim to challenge the iPad, software for managing mobile learning devices, and innovations in student response systems, interactive whiteboards, and other teaching tools are among the latest developments in instructional technology for the new school year. Here’s an overview of some of these recent developments.

Mobile learning tools

With mobile learning taking off in schools, a number of ed-tech companies have released products that aim to make it easier to deploy and manage a mobile learning initiative.…Read More

Is better learning a click away?

Clicker technology has advanced, but some professors prefer simpler models that won't lead to distractions.
Clicker technology has advanced, but some professors prefer simpler models that won't lead to distractions.

The students in Michael Dubson’s physics class at the University of Colorado fell silent as a multiple-choice question flashed on a screen, sending them scrambling for small white devices on their desks.

Within seconds, a monitor on Dubson’s desk told him that 92 percent of the class had correctly answered the question on kinetic energy, a sign that they grasped the concept.

Student response systems, or clickers—not unlike gadgets used on television game shows—first appeared in college classrooms over a decade ago and have since spread to just about every college and university in the country, thanks to cheaper and better technology.…Read More

Victory in Victorville: A replicable model for school improvement

TTClickerSixth Street Prep School is a K-6 charter school in the Victor Elementary School District in San Bernardino County, Calif. Linda Mikels became Sixth Street’s principal in 2001 and was immediately challenged by the school’s three-year history of declining test scores, a large Title I population, and a relatively young teaching staff. In the years prior to her appointment, the school yielded less than acceptable test results–17 percent proficiency in English/language arts and 30 percent proficiency in mathematics.

Sixth Street Prep could have easily made excuses for lagging scores considering its economically disadvantaged population is 85 percent–nearly double the state’s average of 44 percent–clearly qualifying this school as high-need.  Furthermore, 50 percent of students are English Language Learners, and two-thirds of the teaching staff have five or fewer years of experience.  However, Mikels maintains that her school’s demographics should never be an excuse for lack of achievement.

“What concerns me about excuses is that it is all about efficacy. Rather than teachers and leaders perpetuating excuses, we pledge not to make excuses or blame kids if they do not achieve,” she said.…Read More