The circumstances of COVID-19 have forced schools into an unknown territory of technology that most teachers never intended to venture into. Remote learning is arguably one of the best times for educators to be experimenting with new technology tools that they are not used to since there is no ‘right way’ to teach remotely. In a recent conversation with Rachelle Dene Poth, Spanish and STEAM Teacher; President of the ISTE Teacher Network; and Author, she shared how technology has shaped the remote learning environment.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

With anything, there is always a good side and a bad side, and sometimes an even worse side. Rachelle shared that when it comes to technology, you can have the newest and most expensive technology tools, but if the technology is not being used correctly, and is not enhancing student learning, then this technology becomes a waste of time and money. 

The great thing about technology these days is that the options are endless. The ability to find what you need and the resources to learn how to use it is incredibly easy with social media platforms like YouTube.

For educators who have a hard time integrating technology into their classroom lessons, this may sound very daunting. Transitioning to technology during remote learning could be an even more overwhelming experience than on just any regular school day. Not only can it be overwhelming for the teacher, but also for the students and parents at home learning how to use these new tools correctly and adapting to a new learning setting. 

On the flip side, you don’t have to use every piece of technology out there. You can find one or two tools that fit all of your needs, making technology more manageable. Rachelle emphasized that thinking about how these technologies will translate back to the classroom and looking towards the future after remote learning is critical to successful instruction following this time. 

Tech Tools that are Working

Rachelle shared some of her favorite technology tools that she has used in her classroom to help instruction during remote learning.

  1. Buncee – “A creation and communication tool for students, educators, and administrators to create interactive content, allowing those of all ages to visualize concepts and communicate creatively” as seen on their website. Rachelle called this a one-stop-shop where videos can be created and shared, plus access to libraries of examples and templates to get started with
  2. Remind – “Remind is a communication platform that helps educators reach students and parents where they are” stated on Remind’s website. Remind is similar to a texting service. You are able to schedule reminders to be sent to parents and/or student’s phones from anywhere.
  3. Padlet – “Somewhere between a doc and a full-fledged website builder, Padlet empowers everyone to make the content they want, whether it’s a quick bulletin board, a blog, or a portfolio” as seen on their website 
  4. Nearpod – an app that has libraries of lesson plans that can be used when on the go or in need of something new in your classroom. You are also able to create your own lessons in the app and can share them for others to use in the future. 

How will Technology Fit in the Future?

In the future, Rachelle hopes that there will be a surge in the need for teachers to learn and adapt to technology on their own. Having access to resources for research and implementation at your school could greatly impact this outcome. Rachelle also explains how keeping in mind that not every student, teacher, or parent has the same access to readily available resources for lessons is so important. 

To provide the best education possible for your students you, as an educator, have to be aware of the circumstances of your community. Your job is to make sure you have conversations with your community to find out what worked, what didn’t work and why, what did you learn, and how we can use some of the same tools to provide opportunities for our students and educators in the classroom. Communication and experimentation during unexpected school closures are incredibly significant in the preparation of future closures. 

Listen to the full conversation with Rachelle Dene Poth on our Tackling Tech Podcast!

On this episode of Tackling Tech Podcast, Brett McGrath speaks to Rachelle Dene Poth, a Spanish and STEAM teacher in PA who is also an attorney with a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology in addition to being an author, podcaster, and blogger. She shares the changes she’s observed in the rapid transition to online learning. Rachelle encourages teachers to take risks and embrace digital tools because this unfortunate situation can be an opportunity for innovation in education.

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