From checking our emails on the go, to having groceries delivered right to our doorsteps, we constantly use technology to enrich, expand, and simplify our lives. By harnessing high-tech solutions to everyday problems, we’ve brought countless improvements into our homes, our workplaces, and the society we live in — so why should the classroom be any different? By teaching students how to use assistive technology, not only can teachers make education more accessible — they can also create exciting new opportunities for learning at every age and grade level. And in an era where COVID-19 is driving a massive shift toward distance learning, the need for technological literacy has never been greater.
Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or an aspiring educator, now is the perfect time to start exploring the benefits of assistive technology for young children. If you don’t consider yourself to be especially “tech-savvy,” that prospect might sound intimidating — but don’t worry. In this article, we’ll explain what teaching tech to children entails, discuss some of the reasons why it’s so important for educators to promote the use of technology, and provide you with a few simple tips for helping your children or students successfully adjust to a tech-focused model of learning.
What Does Teaching Technology to Children Involve?
Before we dive into its many benefits, it’s important to start by discussing what “teaching technology” actually means at a practical, nuts-and-bolts level. Educational technology — or, as it’s frequently shortened to, “edtech” — is a broad term that encompasses a variety of tools, strategies, and methods that all utilize technology in an effort to deliver better learning outcomes for students. Some common examples of edtech include online courses, digital textbooks, and mobile apps — and, just as crucially, the strategies for using them.
The website educationaltechnology.net, which offers a wide range of resources for teachers, defines edtech as “a field of study that investigates the process of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating the instructional environment and learning materials in order to improve teaching and learning.” In other words, edtech is the junction where teaching and technology meet, whether that’s conducting a virtual lab experiment, using a digital portal to organize and grade assignments, running essays through plagiarism-checking software, or setting up a chatroom where students can discuss their questions and ideas in real time.
20 of the Best EdTech Apps and Tools for Teachers, Students, and Families
As our world grows more complex, so does the relationship between young children and technology. Instead of resisting or ignoring this trend, which merely limits learning opportunities, savvy educators will use edtech to empower their students. But where to get started?
Below, you’ll find a list featuring 20 of the top edtech resources for educators, students, and their families, including mobile apps, quiz builders, cloud storage, presentation tools, and more. While certainly not exhaustive, this list will give you a solid starting point for exploring the possibilities edtech has to offer.
- Canvas Teacher
- Google Classroom
- Google Hangouts
- HOMER Learn & Grow
Now that you have a clearer understanding of what edtech is — along with some great examples that you can try out in your next lesson plan — let’s explore some of the reasons why educational technology is so important for students and teachers to master.
3 Educational Benefits of Children Using Technology
There are numerous reasons why edtech is important — not only in the context of the current pandemic, but for the foreseeable future. Keep reading for a closer look at some of the immediate and long-term benefits that educational technology has to offer students.
#1: Edtech Simplifies Distance Education and Remote Learning
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many educators and students to rely on distance learning tools, such as Zoom, Blackboard, and Canvas. These and other examples of edtech, such as the 20 we’ve listed above, make remote learning possible regardless of physical separation. With the course of the pandemic and its long-term effects on society uncertain, it’s prudent for educators to build coursework around technology, rather than relying on traditional or in-person models.
Of course, a student can only be successful if he or she has a clear understanding of how to use the tools provided. By taking the time to educate students on the use of edtech now, teachers can save precious time on avoiding technical difficulties later.
#2: Edtech Prepares Students for In-Demand Careers
In an economy that’s increasingly driven by data, algorithms, AI, and computing, technological literacy forms the foundation of many industries and careers — including some of the most lucrative. From computer programming and software development to engineering and nursing, many jobs demand a high level of technological proficiency. By introducing students to educational technology at a young age, teachers can help to plant the seeds that will later grow into rewarding careers.
For more information on this subject, you might be interested in our articles discussing the most employable master’s degrees, the best master’s degrees for the future, or the most in-demand bachelor’s degrees you can earn online.
#3: Edtech Gives Students Flexibility and Support
No two students learn in the same way or at the same pace. In a conventional classroom setting, this can translate to students being excluded, being left behind, or not being challenged enough.
Technology empowers teachers to create dynamic and innovative lesson plans that blend numerous types of activities and assignments, from interactive games and presentations, to AI-assisted learning, to digital worksheets and textbooks. By opening up new and flexible avenues toward learning, edtech makes it easier for educators to meet the diverse needs of their students. When used thoughtfully, edtech has the potential to make your lessons more memorable, more accessible, and more fun.
From facilitating remote learning, to preparing students for tech-focused careers, these are just a few of the reasons teachers should understand — and utilize — edtech for young learners. Regardless of which subjects or grade levels you teach, the strategic use of edtech can enhance any curriculum, making it easier (and more exciting) for students to excel.
14 Tips for the Successful Use of Technology in Early Childhood Education
Putting edtech into practice can be easier said than done, particularly for educators or students who are accustomed to traditional teaching tools. Whether you’re a brand-new teacher, an experienced educator, or a student’s family member, the tips below will help you succeed.
7 Edtech Tips for Teachers and Educators
If you’re a teacher (or are on the path to becoming one), you may find the edtech tips below useful.
- Be sure to use up-to-date versions of apps and digital textbooks
- Consider attending online education conferences for teachers
- Explore relevant hashtags on Twitter, such as #edtech, #remotelearning, #onlinelearning, #k12, and #edutwitter
- Make sure students receive clear instructions and know where assignments are located
- Practice using all of the features an app or website offers (including lesser-known tricks and shortcuts)
- Remember to periodically check in with your students
- Stay informed and up-to-date by exploring edtech blogs, forums, and newsletters
7 Edtech Tips for Parents and Families
Is your child struggling to adapt to distance learning? Try these virtual learning tips for parents and family members.
- Ensure all devices are charged before class
- Give your child encouragement and support
- Keep distractions to a minimum
- Make sure you have a stable internet connection
- Remind your child to take occasional breaks and stay physically active
- Set up — and stick to — a consistent routine
- Use an app (or simple notepad) to securely manage passwords
Want even more tips on implementing assistive technology for young children? Try exploring some of these helpful resources for families and educators:
- EdTech Center, which offers insights into distance education and other edtech issues
- EdTech Magazine, whose website covers a huge range of topics for K-12 educators
- The U.S. Department of Education’s official edtech website, which discusses best practices for technology use in early childhood education
Your Teaching Career Starts with an Education Degree or Certificate from National University
Established in 1971, National University is a respected pioneer in the edtech space, with a history of online programs reaching back more than 20 years. If you’re searching for a rigorous program that values technological innovation, we encourage you to consider applying.
We offer a wide variety of fast-paced and fully accredited programs, including certificates, undergraduate degrees, and advanced degrees in fields of study like teacher education, special education, educational counseling, and educational leadership. For more information about our teaching programs, or to begin the application process, contact our admissions office today.