Making Your Classroom Tech-Friendly With Limited Resources

The modern trend for digitizing education is getting really overwhelming. Modern classes look nothing like they did a half-century ago. Smart apps and VR technologies have completely transformed the education process in schools last couple years.

Educational innovations are reshaping learning in a new way, they help to engage the students better, optimize the workflow, open new possibilities for teamwork and make the learned material meaningful.

But not every budget can stretch enough for purchasing a brand-new pair of VR glasses. Around 70% of teachers in low-income communities reported the budget to be the biggest obstacle for tech access in the classroom. Still, 91% of educators in PBS study reported having access to computers and laptops in the classrooms that can become a turning point for further improvements that this short guide will tell you about.

Select Your LMS

The success stories of many low-income schools show that it is manageable to create a productive place of studying without technologically advanced decisions. The remote learning that is organized with LMS (Learning Management System) enables each student work from home using their own devices.

There are popular LMSs like Canvas, Moodle, Schoology or Google Classroom, each turning the education into adventure with quizzes, interactive questioning, 3D videos, and documentaries.

The world of edtech is getting bigger and stronger each day, learning management systems hold tremendous opportunities for teachers and students alike. Having a good LMS means the rise of mobility, lower complexity, and cost for classes and custom learning experiences.

The questions considering choosing a good LMS with a set of functions that would contribute a smooth learning experience can be tricky. The first step should be considering the needs of the class and the result that you want to obtain.

Think of the content that you plan to use for educating the class. Maybe you want to use specifically video or audio content, focus more on the interactive activities or presentations?

Make your priorities. It is nice to know that your LMS will support discussion boards, collaboration among students, data tracking, and grading but it is even better to get the chance to test whether the LMS is good for you by testing it before using.

It is not only important to chose a good LMS, the aim is to select the one that will address the educational needs particularly for your class. While Canvas or Schoology will be a good pick for big universities (due to the extensive room for extra customizations), Google Classroom is suitable for schools and k-12 because it is simple, convenient and intuitive in use.

Customize the Learning Experience

Google Classroom recently announced 100 new apps that can be integrated into the LMS, it became easy for the teachers to keep the learning process comfortable and interesting. The integration means extended functionality, easier sharing between apps and improved workflow as the favorite app can be reached straight from the LMS.

Support Integrity Standards

The most common problem in online classes is peer to peer plagiarizing and recycling papers from previous years. Unicheck is a plagiarism checker software that is integrated into Google Classroom, the teachers can scan all submissions against each other and spot for similarities across the Internet sources.  

The reports are generated automatically and sent to the teacher’s email. Upon the report receiving an educator will see the similarity rate of the paper straight from the email, if it needs a revision the student can be notified by sharing the link or forwarding the report.

Create Visual Understanding

Plenty of educational content can be found online. Curiosity gathers content from 76 online education providers like Khan Academy, Coursera etc. Around 100,000 talks and videos are currently open for users in such disciplines like science, history, technology, and economics.

A teacher may give the assignment in Google Classroom based on the video or the podcast or use them as supplemental sources. The videos feature “spark quiz” question prompts based on which it recommends the content to the students, also the content can be found by the trending topics on the site.

Deliver Better Explanations

cK-12 contains lessons in science, technology, engineering, math and other disciplines. The idea is to break the content into digestible bite-size chunks of knowledge and ease the subject understanding. All the material that a teacher can use in cK-12 comes in the form of video, audio, quizzes, and books.

The teacher can use cK-12 as a part of independent or collaborative learning for students as the materials can be bookmarked, shared and resent to the classmates. The educator may assign the team project in cK-12 for the students to collaborate on or give the task for individual concept learning.

Find a Place for Grading

Edulastic is a tool for the test and benchmark assessments. Using Edulastic a teacher can create own technology-enhanced questions, mix the existing ones, collaborate with teachers-coworkers. The auto-grading with standard points for the assessment is also available.

A teacher can use Edulastic either for grading assignments and for tracking the progress of every student individually instead of creating the charts and counting the points manually.

Help Students with Formatting

In case your students are learning academic formatting styles they can use a helper such as Easybib. With Easybib students can create MLA, APA, Chicago formatting and utilize the citation generator for bibliographies.

On the stage when students learn the specifics of each format or when citations and references should be created promptly in the class Easybib could be a good helper. Along the way, the students can also use a notebook tool for making notes for the assignment or project while linking them to citations.

Involve Students in Practice

With Instructables students can learn how to create things themselves as it provides practical DIY lessons. The room for experiments is quite spacious, with 100,000 DIY projects on the site. It can suggest plenty of valuable ideas for classes in such spheres like math, art, science, engineering, etc. The educator may give a practical assignment for each student, give them a collaborative project, or suggest them to take a part in the contests that are regularly published on the site.

Encourage Classroom Creativity

TED-Ed community member Jessica Dawn Kaiser recommended Haikudeck for engaging students to be creative while they learn. With 40 million creative common images students can create presentations by adding the short poems to the images using their favorite devices and even phones. As a teacher, you can assign students to make a presentation for their press releases, professional profiles or culture projects using templates featured on site.

Search for Technology Grant Resources

Many companies may be up for charitable donations after office upgrades so having several local contacts by your side could be a useful thing. According to Nancy Jenkins, principal of the 450-student Guin Foss Elementary School (Santa Ana, CA) whose school takes advantage of several business collaborations, business partnerships can be beneficial for every school type or size, even the smallest one.

Working in tandem with schools is a new way that will benefit both businesses and schools. For instance, such companies like “Tech Will Save Us” supplies and sells toys that are made by children with a help of electronics and programming. Many small local businesses take as a regular practice providing special certificates and donations for the schools in their area when a teacher or the member of parent community asks for this.

The best creative way to approach such businesses is to write the letter featuring the checklist of things that a particular company can do for the school and how their business will benefit from it too. Schools can give a good promotion for the company in return such as promoting through newsletters, influencing the parents, making special school campaigns that mention the help through the students’ artwork, etc.

The traditional point of view is that all fundraising activities for the school should be carried out by the principal but it’s not how it always works. In many cases the teachers also take part in writing letters, making the calls, knocking the doors of local communities and associations.

The asking is the greatest point that determines success in the fundraising or suggestion for the collaboration and at some point, you might be surprised how many business owners want to help.

As for the governmental and private grants, amounts of money, requirements, and dates for the application will be different. It is a good practice to choose multiple programs for applying to increase the chances and be noticed. As a teacher or principal you can track them down from the following sources:

The students no longer drift through the library shelves or sit under the dusty books, today they can find pretty much everything in the online databases using their own devices of even phones. New studying approaches improve and streamline the teacher’s work, enrich classroom practices and engage the students. Sometimes it is just a matter of few tools and applications that divides your classroom from great performance. Luckily, there are plenty of new ways that will allow limited budget schools create classes full of motivation and inspiration, let’s get to work!