Most young adults and older professionals today rely heavily on technology. In an increasingly digital world, there is almost no way to escape tech in its many forms and applications—and rightly so, as it is incredibly useful and can help us improve our capabilities and achieve greater things. That’s one of the reasons why there are many tech tools every student should have to help them learn at home and in the classroom.
Still, despite the digital age we are living in, some adults question how much exposure to tech kids should have before they reach a certain age. Understandably, parents don’t want their children to become reliant on technology or become so obsessed with it that they don’t have other non-tech experiences.
But technology can be an incredibly useful educational tool for students of all ages, even young elementary-level learners. The key to using edtech appropriately is to do so under supervision.
Students shouldn’t spend their entire day interacting with technology. However, in the right setting and with the right tools, edtech can greatly benefit them. It can help with things like homework, independent study, skill development, research, language, math, science, and more. Edtech can even help them develop better organizational and time management skills.
This article will look at the importance of having access to technology today and the top tech tools every student should have whether they are learning at home or in the classroom.
Why it’s important for students to have access to technology
Despite what many think, there are actually a lot of kids who struggle with tech and computer literacy due to a lack of proper guidance and equitable access to technology. Though it’s understandable to want to limit how much access a child has, it is important for them to have supervised and guided access as they will eventually need quality tech and computer skills as they get older and enter the workforce.
Equitable access to technology is particularly important. It doesn’t refer to a student being limited due to parental restrictions but rather to things like ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical and mental ability. But all students, no matter who they are, where they are located, their financial situation, and their capabilities, should have access to the same technology for learning purposes.
Technology can help bridge gaps for students who may be struggling or otherwise do not have access to certain things. It can help them improve their skills, knowledge, and overall educational experience. So parents, guardians, and educators must provide edtech to ensure all students have access to the tools they need.
Top five picks for tech tools every student should have
Thanks to advancements and growing access to technology, numerous edtech tools are available to help students of all ages and capabilities. However, it’s important to do some research to identify which tools are right for your child or student and to provide access to them under supervision. While technology is useful, it can be abused, or some students might simply not understand how to use it correctly without guidance.
Below are some of the top tools parents and educators can use today to enhance the learning experience:
Pear Deck was designed to help support active learning to keep students connected to their learning communities and on track with educational goals. It allows educators to make interactive lessons utilizing active learning, formative assessments, retrieval practices, and more. This enables educators to close the achievement gap, whether students are learning in the classroom or at home.
FlipGrid is quickly becoming one of the most popular edtech tools to aid students in and out of the classroom. It is a social learning video discussion app that provides a safe and open space for learners of all ages and abilities to connect and have meaningful discussions. It also allows educators to create discussion topics, which students can then respond to outside the classroom, where there is less pressure to perform. They can respond with video recordings and even continue the discussion with other students to keep their ideas flowing after the school day has ended.
Nearpod offers educators real-time insights into how students learn using interactive videos, lessons, slides, activities, and gamification. The goal of the platform is to help educators better understand and support the varied ways that students learn and absorb information. It even offers Nearpod VR, which enables teachers to enhance the learning and creative experience using virtual reality.
TinyTap is a great educational platform to use for young learners. It was founded on the belief that anyone can teach and learn if they are given the right tools that address their specific needs. Using TinyTap, families, teachers, and students can learn from each other by creating their own personalized games, activities, and apps. You can even access and play thousands of others that have already been created and shared by a worldwide community of educators and learners.
Popplet is touted as being a tool that provides the easiest way for students to visualize, capture, organize, and collaborate on their ideas. It uses mind-mapping and brainstorming visuals and techniques to help learners think more creatively and improve their memory retention. The tool is great for individual brainstorming or in-class group projects to help students come up with solutions and ideas to solve various problems.
Read more: 7 Digital tools for project-based learning
Tips for parents with at-home learners
The tools above are just some of the many edtech tools and resources available to teachers and families looking for ways to enhance the learning experience. Understandably, as a parent or guardian, it can be much more of a challenge to create a quality, at-home learning environment for homeschoolers and remote students when you don’t have teaching experience.
The tools above can help, but there are many other ways to enhance and improve your child’s at-home learning experience. For students who are interested in STEM subjects, for example, you seek out specific online courses and bootcamps to help them improve their skills and knowledge. Coding has become incredibly popular today amongst students, and there are numerous online coding tools, classes, and resources available.
Additional tips for parents with remote students and homeschoolers include:
- Creating a distraction-free environment that inspires creativity and productivity;
- Using positive language and encouragement to keep them motivated;
- Addressing technical issues and limitations and using age-appropriate edtech tools;
- Ensuring they have a good school-life balance to keep them mentally and physically happy, healthy, and engaged.
The internet is full of highly beneficial educational tools and resources for students of all ages. Even though they shouldn’t spend the majority of their days using technology—needing other authentic interactions and downtime—edtech is still something that they should have some access to. So families and teachers need to find the right tech tools every student should have and provide access to them under supervision to ensure the best learning experience possible.
Charlie Fletcher is a writer and former preschool teacher from the lovely “city of trees”, Boise, Idaho. When not writing, she can be found exploring the great outdoors or geeking out over the latest Game of Thrones fan theories.