Home Technology Tools That Aid Online Learning

By Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick and Tracy Vasquez

a high school student sitting at a desk attending class online

In today’s new normal of teaching and learning, educators and families are searching for ways to make learning relevant and relatable for students. Technology tools can be a useful resource to make the process engaging and meaningful. Here are some of those tools and how they can be implemented in specific areas.

Zoom

This video conferencing application can be used for virtual morning meetings. Teachers can meet with students as a group or individually to continue the sense of community as well as assist students individually in learning new content. For direct instruction, teachers can utilize the screen sharing feature of Zoom to demonstrate and model the concept being taught. Additionally, teachers can record a lesson and subsequently share the lesson’s link with students and families so they can support their students’ learning.

Padlet

Essentially a virtual canvas, this online learning platform allows teachers to collect ideas from multiple students in class. This boosts engagement as students will want to see their ideas pinned on the virtual board. A teacher can collect ideas at the beginning of a lesson to glean background knowledge, cultural knowledge or personal interest information on a topic. The teacher can also support group or independent student work on Padlet by pinning questions, links or ideas for student-led learning. Students can then add to the teacher’s Padlet, or they can create their own “Pad” to display works demonstrating personal learning, such as papers, websites and pictures.

Museums of the World and National Parks Virtual Tours

With the availability of videos and real-time streaming services, students, teachers and families can tour a variety of museums virtually. For example, if Art Masterpiece is offered as part of the curriculum, a parent volunteer can collaborate with the teacher to access a museum that houses the artists’ collections. In some instances, the museum docents are also on hand to provide overviews and answer questions. Similarly, many U.S. National Parks provide virtual tours of their sites that families and teachers can explore when students are engaged in learning about natural sciences.

Today’s Meet

Think of this as a class discussion that takes place through written language, like instant messaging. The teacher or one of the students can start by asking a question, and all other participants can reply to answer or to investigate further. All posts are displayed on a page so participants can look back at what was “said” and contribute their thoughts as well. This also becomes an excellent record for the teacher to keep for participation points and formative assessment records.

Webquests

This could very well be the original form of inquiry-based learning. A simple Google search will result in a library of already existing Webquests that cover a slew of topics in all subject areas for grades K-12. Educators and families can find a Webquest related to a topic their student is learning and support them in completing the various experiences and tasks that are embedded in each lesson.

Symbaloo

Not only are these pre-created symbaloos a treasure trove of resources for teachers and families on any subject area and topic, but symbaloo can also become an optimal technology tool for virtual learning. A teacher can select an applicable matrix to modify for the class or put together a matrix of items on a topic for students to work through at their own pace. For example, pieces of the matrix could include links for:

  • An introductory video
  • A pre-assessment quiz
  • An online encyclopedia
  • A website demonstrating real-life applications

These technology tools are just a sampling of a wide variety of resources available to families and educators to support the students’ online learning and development.

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