Making EdTech Beneficial for Teachers and Students

Keys for leveraging tech in meaningful ways

by Jim Britt

We are all born hard-wired to learn, and barring extenuating circumstances, this condition does not change during the span of our lives. When functioning properly, educational technology should augment this natural ability. In his article “Key Trends for 2017: Innovation in Educational Technology,” Doug Harward makes several salient points regarding this augmentation that transfer well from industry to the classroom. Millennials entering the workforce (and students entering our classrooms) are bringing new expectations regarding work and collaboration.

Learning is:

  • Best achieved in small ongoing increments
  • Best achieved over time
  • Best assessed on demand
  • Best implemented using multiple devices
  • Best absorbed over multiple forms of media

Harward’s takeaway is to focus on speed, efficiency, and effectiveness. The method to achieve this is by adapting content to learners’ needs. Use adaptive learning techniques to reduce the time it takes learners to become proficient, and in the process, eliminate the need to teach content previously mastered. The learner focuses on the compacted learning objective of what is essential to be learned. One of the most effective techniques for increasing retention and application is to reinforce content over an extended period of time. Mobile apps and e-learning are two ways to achieve this.

Our Sentence Analytics software addresses the needs raised by Mr. Harward. To begin, let’s examine what makes sentence diagramming so difficult. The biggest obstacle to success with sentence diagramming is the laborious and time-consuming process of drawing the complicated diagrams by hand. This process is frequently inconsistent and incomplete. If the student should make an error, correcting it becomes a difficult and drawn-out procedure. At this point, the student can become discouraged and disengaged from the learning process. However, we have reinvented the process: our software takes care of the drawing!

From the start, our diagnostic assessment places the student at the appropriate starting point in the software. Next, the lesson presented to the student is narrowed down to a specific type of sentence construction with several practice sentences. The student can find out at any point whether the answer is correct. After three tries, the software provides the correct response. This narrow focus and immediate feedback allows the teacher to utilize the precious instructional time on what is needed for the whole class or the individual student. The real-time interaction between the software and the student gives the student the feel-good rewards associated with success in gaming situations. This, in turn, provides intrinsic motivation which increases endorphins and can result in the student putting in more effort. Formatting in this manner allows the students to develop their visual literacy skills while using hands-on interactive software to master the complexities of comprehending advanced academic text at a higher level.

Many students are coming to testing from a culture of failure. The exam has defeated them on more than one occasion. They need a change of heart.  As Cheryl Johnson states, “Creating a culture of learning is as much about changing a mindset as it is about delivering learning that makes an impact.” (“The Latest Trend for Learning 2018” eLearning Industry 01/12/2018) Our program is designed to recast the mindset of failure with one of competence. It also gives teachers the tools and practice needed to get a flying start.

In summary, Sentence Analytics software overcomes the difficulties of sentence diagramming in the following ways:

  • Takes care of the drawing
  • Allows the student and teacher to focus their valuable instructional time on the chosen learning objectives for the specific lesson
  • Interacts with the student in real time to reinforce right answers and correct wrong ones
  • Provides intrinsic motivation which increases endorphins and therefore leads to the student putting in more effort
  • Includes a teacher package of pre-tagged sentences allowing the teacher instant access to the targeted material allowing them to easily find examples of the sentences they are trying to teach
Author Further Reading

This post includes mentions of a partner of MindRocket Media Group the parent company of edCircuit

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