Technology tools for teachers are in high demand these days.
If you are like a lot of educators across the country and around the world, you are learning new ways of teaching now that COVID-19 has disrupted the world of education, triggering a need for creativity and innovation. For many, part of this process includes seeking out the best tools for online teaching.
You’re likely aware that Google continues to expand its already broad reach into classrooms in the U.S and beyond. The tech giant claims that 90 million students and educators use its productivity tools, G Suite for Education; 40 million use the Google Classroom learning management system; and 30 million students now use Chromebooks.
Of course, Google is just one of many innovators in the sphere of educational technology and online learning, and the list of cool new teaching tools seems to grow longer every day. To aid in the discovery process, we have put together a list of some of the best educational technology solutions and tools for online teaching.
Top Technology Tools for Teachers
There are seemingly limitless options when it comes to online tools and programs for teachers. While this might be true, sort of, there are some tried-and-true options that teachers are utilizing during this time of remote instruction, in-classroom teaching and hybrid teaching. To make it easier, we’ve broken it down into four primary categories.
- Google Classroom —Arguably the flagship of Google’s educational offerings, Google Classroom enables teachers to manage, oversee and streamline the remote teaching process. With this program, teachers can share instructional content, work assignments, and assessments in an online learning platform, as well as foster classroom discussions. They can also oversee all student work, monitor their progress, and provide personalized feedback to improve learning outcomes
- Blackboard —Blackboard is a comprehensive digital learning platform that supports both live a teaching environment and on-demand educational solutions. Teachers can “teach” students in a virtual classroom using video, audio, screen sharing, a virtual blackboard, and even breakout groups for more individualized instruction. From there, they can oversee student progress, communicate with parents, and hit educational milestones, all in an organized solution.
- Solfeg.io — This is a more niche solution, but just because you’re teaching virtually doesn’t mean the arts should be cast aside. With Solfeg.io, K-12 music educators can still engage with students using a web-based audio player that visually displays the melody, chords, and rhythm of a song simultaneously in real time. From there, teachers can reinforce the lesson with educational exercises and video tutorials.
- Insert Learning — To best leverage a teacher’s most available digital tool — the internet — many are turning to Insert Learning. This tool enables teachers to take any page on the internet and turn it into an interactive and effective lesson by adding instructional content, questions, videos, and interactive discussions directly on the page. Using this program in conjunction with an online learning platform, teachers can engage students and deepen their understanding of the topics in question in a fast, straight-forward manner. Insert Learning has turned the internet into “an interactive learning experience.”
- Prodigy — Described as “the most engaging math platform in the world,” Prodigy features free math games and activities that are directly aligned with district curricula from around the world. Odds are high that they have programs and lessons that align with your state and district’s specific standards, and the platform gives teachers real-time reports on student’s performance and progress. This means that teachers can teach math in a fun, interactive, online manner while still hitting the benchmarks required of them.
- Flipgrid — If a teacher suspects their students might be suffering from Zoom fatigue, there is an alternative solution that still puts them face-to-face with their students without live video chatting. With Flipgrid, teachers can pose questions and prompts, and students respond with short recorded videos. Flipgrid also supports a worldwide learning community, so teachers can share insight from other leading teachers and subject matter experts. What’s more, this program has thousands of preloaded lessons and prompts to help teachers get started.
- Edmodo — With Edmodo, teachers can create digital lessons and assignments, share them with students, and manage coursework in a singular digital platform. This program also supports improved online communication and engagement with students and their parents because teachers can send reminders and quick messages to the class or individuals, much like a popular social media platform, to keep everyone on track.
- ClassDojo — This program is less about coursework and more about fostering a classroom community even when school is done remotely. With ClassDojo, teachers, students, and parents can interact to build a positive culture in their class that supports collaborative learning and positive reinforcement through an online, interactive platform for communication.
- Seesaw — Seesaw supports remote learning through an easy-to-use online collaboration program. Students “show their work” using a variety of digital tools such as draw+record, collage, and even video to demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter in a way that works for them. Then, within the program, teachers can see a student’s thought process, measure their progress, and fill in the gaps accordingly. Seesaw also enables teachers to loop in parents so they can see student progress and stay up to date on assignments.
- Zoom— Everyone is familiar with Zoom by now, and many schools use it exclusively to support their remote learning programs. With Zoom, teachers can host live lessons, create unique “Zoom rooms” to host classroom sessions, and facilitate collaborative work conversations with other classrooms.
- Microsoft Teams — Microsoft Teams is a video conferencing tool used by many organizations to conduct business remotely, but they also have a specialized platform exclusively for educators. With Microsoft Teams for Education, teachers can still use the live video conferencing program, but they can also share assignments, documents, lessons, and more in one centralized tool.
- Google Hangouts — This platform is not recommended for communication with students or an entire class, but it’s a great way for teachers to collaborate and communicate remotely.
- Google Jamboard—Google Jamboard is an interactive whiteboard, where students and teachers can brainstorm, collaborate, and work together in real time on one shared display. Teachers can quickly pull in images from a Google search, save work to the cloud automatically, use the easy-to-read handwriting and shape recognition tool, and draw with a stylus but erase with your finger — just like a whiteboard.
- A Web Whiteboard— A Web Whiteboard is another virtual whiteboard option, with touch-friendly design that enables students and teachers to use it on tablets, computers, and even smartphones. Afterwards, teachers can save the whiteboard to share notes and lessons with students after the class is over.
Google's Expanding Role in Online Teaching and Education
While most of the aforementioned solutions are one-off programs that work independently, one solution is part of a much more robust, all-encompassing online learning network.
G Suite for Education — which is free — is one of the most widely used and effective education solutions available to teachers today. The full suite of cloud-hosted tools has 19 Google programs in their “core solutions,” but the platform also supports hundreds of other online learning programs.
What’s more, Google is also measuring the usefulness of G Suite for Education and using that information to inform teachers and improve their offerings. According to edsurge.com:
Google is not only a leader in providing teachers with tools and platforms, the company is also sharply focused on compiling and sharing information on how its teaching tools are being used with so-called “transformation reports” that feature a dashboard to help administrators understand the impact of their Google for Education implementation.
“In every conversation we had with school districts, we heard from instructors that they want to quantify the impact that Google’s tools have on schools,” Kevin Kells, global director at Google for Education says in an EdSurge.com article. “It’s not enough that they are used, but that they’re useful.”
Enhance Your Use of Google Tools in the Classroom
Some teachers, especially those whose districts are among the many now using Google education technology, may wish to broaden their capabilities by learning from educators who have mastered the Google toolset.
The Google for Teachers online learning series from University of San Diego’s Professional and Continuing Education program features multiple courses designed to improve teacher’s understanding and ability to utilize the G Suite for Education. From curriculum planning support to remote teaching, there is a USD course designed for all facets of the Google education experience.
“Educators have continually commented that the knowledge learned from Google courses that they have taken at USD PCE have positively enhanced their confidence and effectiveness in teaching all things Google,” said Matthew Evans, Instructor in the USD Professional and Continuing Education Google for Teachers program.
To learn more about our Google for Teachers programs or any of our online offerings for educators, explore the University of San Diego’s Professional and Continuing Education website, or contact us for more information.