The best teacher tools online selected by our EHL faculty members. An overview of what these teaching apps can really bring to the online and blended learning classroom and to the learning outcomes.
Facilitating both teacher and learner
It’s amusing to think of how once mobile devices and tablets were frowned upon in the classroom. Thanks to the surge in remote teaching, technology has widened the scope of education by assisting teachers in their quest to plan lessons effectively, engage their students online and create an environment of interconnectivity. Contrary to a few years ago, apps, tools and devices are becoming increasingly useful for reaching the learning objectives in these digital times.
Educators can plan, organize and deliver their teaching through a huge variety of learning-oriented apps. Thanks to the right software, many teaching tasks are streamlined: keeping attendance, distributing & recording homework, engaging students inside and outside the classroom via effective communication. With the attention span of the average Gen Zer standing at approximately four seconds, it’s easy to understand the appeal of a lesson that features quizzes, videos, a chat room and gamification.
Today’s learning arena has evolved into a digital space where teachers and students communicate virtually and learn from the comfort of their homes. The Covid pandemic has enforced distance teaching for the past year and many unforeseen benefits have emerged as a result. The regular use of teaching apps is certain to remain part of the pedagogical furniture way into the future.
Fabiano Ruggeri is EHL’s Digital Services Director and was the person the school turned to in spring 2020 when it was necessary to go from classroom to online teaching within a matter of days. His opinions on the question of teaching tools and bringing technology into the classroom are very clear:
“Pedagogy should always drive technology, not the other way around. IT tools are here to provide solutions and systems, not to take the place of teachers. Today there are hundreds of different teaching systems and apps on the market, but knowing how to use them effectively is where the pedagogical skill lies. Before implementing any digital tool into a lesson, every teacher should ask themselves: what’s the interoperability of this teaching accessory and how will it benefit the learning objectives?"
As far as popular teaching apps are concerned, a recent survey among EHL faculty proves Ruggieri’s point that the app has to be at the service of the learning outcome. Ian Millar, (Senior Lecturer in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation), states:
"While students generally expect tools, apps and instant info in a lesson because it’s more 'fun', the teacher knows all this serving a greater purpose. In fact, what's really going on is that knowledge is getting checked, engagement is secured and a lot of cultural timidity is being pushed aside to make way for more impactful learning."
Feedback from EHL faculty confirms that the use of teaching apps is an excellent way to engage students, take the general temperature of the online class and figure out who’s listening and learning. Digital apps are also an agile way of engaging different learner mindsets. For example, quizzes are an interactive and playful method to check up on what students have retained from the previous lesson, but results can be left anonymous so that there is no competitive edge that some students may prefer. Furthermore, a student’s ability to use and understand technology is improved.
Ultimately, digital resources are enhancing and opening up learning systems of the future generations. Education apps empower teachers to effectively manage and organize their classes, and above all, stimulate students to reach their specific learning outcomes.
Best teacher tools online hand-picked by EHL faculty
- Kahoot: Contains thousands of engaging quizzes for teachers and learners. Teachers can make or edit their quiz in minutes and blend various question types to improve engagement. A fun and effective way to measure which concepts students have understood fully and which might need reinforcement.
- Google Classroom: A learning management system (LMS) used to organize lectures, class material & notes, distribute & grade assignments, connect to students efficiently and make important announcements. It has million+ downloads and ranks within the top 20 best apps for educators.
- Zoom: The no.1 app in 2020 for work, education & communication. Instant screen sharing options, cross platform instant messaging, good audio & video quality, plus the New Meeting function lets teachers invite up to 100 people to join the video class.
- Remind: Promotes better communication among teachers, students and parents. Real-time feedback & comments in or out of school; a good resource to help keep communication open between school and home. Teachers are able to manage up to 10 classes with an unlimited number of recipients in each group.
- Camtasia: A screen recorder and video editor for tutorials, lessons and training videos. Teachers can record a lesson for review or for absent students to watch; they can also select something from the library and integrate annotations, animations, visual and audio effects. Students can create videos that demonstrate understanding or make observations.
- Slack: A one-stop platform for teachers to communicate effectively with students & parents. It offers real-time communication outside the classroom. Good for sharing lesson plans, making announcements, engaging in group chats or private conversations.
- TED-Ed: High-quality videos and lesson plans, a great resource for students and teachers looking for inspiration, education and fun. “Explainer videos” that help students better understand an idea. The videos and animations are highly engaging and well produced.
- Quizizz: Playful and exciting learning thanks to quizzes created by thousands of teachers. Students complete them alone or in groups. Teachers can assign homework from quizzes to boost student engagement and can create quizzes on any subject to help students learn new things.
- Socrative: Helps teachers spark conversation, share opnions and learning through user-created polls and quizzes. Students access questions via a Room Code. The answers register immediately on the teacher's computer as students submit their responses from almost any device.
- Google Jamboard: Essentially a giant digital whiteboard that can be used by the teacher from any remore device. A great tool for integrating with Google Classroom since it is able to utilize Google Drive materials.