The best edtech for forging connections

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is journalist and blogger with a passion for technology and continued learning. She is currently a contributing writer for Muck Rack, Ragan and Technorati. When she isn't busy writing about the latest educational or tech trends, she loves spending time with her husband and playing video games.

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The evolution of technology has brought with it numerous benefits. Education, in particular, has experienced a multitude of these benefits as technology continues to reach a variety of learners in many different ways. Silicon Valley has, in fact, been turning its attention to education more frequently. Technology education reached $1.87 billion last year (a 55% increase). So what does this mean for teachers?

"It is not unheard of for a teacher to use Twitter in the classroom, and many teachers use social media for educational purposes."

It means there are more supplemental resources available. It also means you have access to tools that allow you to monitor your students’ progress and that educational social networks are beginning to connect teachers, parents and students to promote learning in yet another virtual setting.

Educational Websites

Every year, the American Association of School Librarians lists the top educational websites for teaching and learning. The best sites include resources for digital storytelling, curriculum collaboration, media sharing, management and organization, content resources, and social networking and communication.

A few popular educational websites are as follows:

  • PowToon. This site allows users to create and share non-traditional and engaging presentations.
  • Meograph. A multimedia storytelling tool, Meograph allows users to take photos and video from around the web and put them together and add easy narration.
  • Pearltrees. Visual collaborations for digital curations allow users to organize files, webpages, photos and more.

It serves educators and parents well to familiarise themselves with the educational websites available today. Learning what’s available to supplement students’ education will help you support them.

Grade Trackers

Grade trackers like PowerSchool, RenWeb and openSIS give parents immediate and open connection to their child’s grades, attendance records, behavioral information and transcript. In the past, parents typically had to wait until parents’ evenings to find out their child’s progress. With student information systems, parents simply log into the system to view gradebooks, giving them access to grades for homework, quizzes, projects and every other assessment.

Critics of grade trackers like PowerSchool believe the imposing information systems make learning too much of an act or performance, which takes away from the authenticity of the learning process. Supporters of such technology believe it enables parents to become more involved in the learning process. Regardless of your stance, it’s easy to understand how parents are more engaged when they can track their child’s progress every day.

There are other ways to connect parents, students and teachers without sharing access to every assessment and record. Online social networks geared toward education are becoming more popular.

Educational Social Networks

More and more social networking sites are appealing to teachers and other education professionals. It is not unheard of for a teacher to use Twitter in the classroom, and many teachers use social media for educational purposes or to connect with other teachers.

One of the most popular educational social networks is Edmodo, a site that connects over 47 million teachers, parents and students. In August 2014, Edmodo raised $30 million in capital venture to expand its reach to further countries and offer new product lines.

Parents can use Edmodo to stay informed about children’s homework assignments and connect with teachers. There is also an app for parents that offers a simplistic view and easier access.

Form a Connection

It’s no surprise technology has evolved to offer remarkable educational tools. As we grow accustomed to these new technologies and they become the new norm, the connections between teachers, students and parents will likely strengthen.

Technology can help you supplement your students’ education and their progress. Knowing your students’ strengths and weaknesses will help you determine where this technology will be most beneficial.

How do you plan to use technology in the classroom over the coming months? Let us know in the comments.

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