Edtech trends: New ways to engage learners

George Hammond-Hagan

George Hammond-Hagan is an Ivor Novello award-winner and founder Studytracks. Studytracks V1.0 was launched in February 2016, allowing students to revise for exams on the go, in an enjoyable and effective way. The innovative, free app merges music with study materials, using lyrics relating to a specific exam theme or topic. At the end of every track, learners can then test their recall using the in-app quiz.

At present the app features 46 songs within various subject categories for GCSE revision though it will be fully loaded from September with over 350 tracks (A & AS Level subjects coming soon). Studytracks works by turning topics into easy to remember “hooks”. As the student listens to the music, these hooks become embedded in their memory - just like the lyrics to a song - so that when something triggers the hook (like a word or phase in an exam question) students are able to recall the information easily and effectively.

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Website: www.studytracks.education/ Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image credit: Pixabay // MariusMB Image credit: Pixabay // MariusMB

With the influx of technology available in today’s digital age, it’s no surprise that both the current and future generations of students have a natural curiosity for using and exploring the latest technology and gadgets. It’s part-and-parcel of their everyday lives; they’ve grown up with it and often know more about tech than the older generation, including their parents and teachers.

As a father, I understand how much tech appeals to Generation Z, but beyond what edtech resources my son uses, I’d never considered just how entwined tech and education have become. In today’s day and age, there really is something for everyone in education. However, with the ever-evolving needs of schools and teachers, and changes to education in general happening regularly, what latest edtech trends are helping those at the centre of the pedagogical sphere: the students?

Keeping it smart

One trend we have seen emerging over the last year or so is the use of smartphones in the classroom. When iPhones, Blackberries and Androids launched on the market, the use of mobile phones within the classroom skyrocketed, much to the frustration of teachers, causing schools to develop rules and regulations for phone use during school time.

“There really is something for everyone in education.”

However, despite numerous debates as to whether it helps students’ performance or, in fact, distracts them, I believe that when used appropriately, they can really enhance the learning experience, and smartphones are increasingly becoming a tool for learning.

As well as being able to take photos and videos of work, track their progress and research topics using the internet – all of which help to bolster their learning – smartphones also provide teachers and students with a line of communication, so they can send and receive emails about coursework or homework. Obviously, there are safeguarding issues to consider with smartphones, but when implemented and managed correctly, they’re a brilliant learning device.

Learning more and learning better

Following on from this, education apps have also proliferated over the past few years, opening up a whole host of learning opportunities. Apps can provide so many different and innovative ways for students to learn. For example, there are apps available that: help students’ monitor their progress; turn subjects into relatable content to increase understanding; include elements of gamification to engage the user and foster healthy competition among fellow learners; and combine learning with other 21st Century tools to help increase students’ willingness to revise. But, when it comes to the latest edtech resources, the most effective ones are those which have been devised by thinking outside the box and, therefore, give teachers and students something new, exciting and truly beneficial.

With so many products and resources to choose from, it can often be overwhelming for teachers and students to work out what’s going to be the most effective. However, it’s no secret that when we enjoy something, we remain focused for longer, so if edtech can offer students a 21st Century learning tool that’s effective and really appeals to them, then they’re going to learn more and learn better. And this will always be the aim of the game in education.

What are your favourite edtech developments? Let us know below.

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