How to Use Technology to Boost Learning and Accelerate Achievement

We have come a long way in our online learning journey these past forty years. I remember in 8th grade (1982) being assigned a time slot once a week to go to the library. I had a partner, turned on the computer, and followed the directions in a 2 inch binder. No teacher, just me and the binder. What did I have to do? I had to enter html code to learn how to use a computer. It was frustrating at times, since I had to learn on my own, but I figured it out. Was this the beginning of online learning? It’s absolutely CRAZY when I think about this now, but that is how I had to learn computer.

Online Learning: Teacher Training

When I think about my undergrad studies, there was absolutely no class for technology. Fortunately, I had a computer to use for typing papers, but there was no other need. Fast forward twenty years, today’s undergrad educational programs include coursework to use technology as an instructional resource. Additionally, today’s educational companies provide frequent technological updates, a variety of resources, training, and teachers and parents find it easier to navigate. As a result, they find value in the various online learning platforms.

Although there are a variety of online learning resources available, it can be challenging to figure out how to use technology as an instructional resource. Therefore, in this post, I will share several options that can be easily implemented to use technology as an instructional resource.   

Online Learning: Three Questions

Three questions to always consider when determining if technology should be used are these:

  • How is this technology resource supporting student(s) in learning the required and expected standards;
  • How is this technology resource supporting the student(s) in scaffolding learning;
  • Is this technology resource the best method for the student(s) to learn the material?

When planning and designing lessons, keep these questions in mind to ensure technology is being used appropriate for each learner. Once you figured out if technology is an appropriate resource, use the strategies shared below to boost learning and accelerate achievement.

Online Learning: Instructional Center

During a “Daily 5”, literacy, math, even social studies and science subject center environment, planning one center for technology usage is an opportunity to use technology in an instructional setting.

Whether students are utilizing technology to research a topic, create a slide deck, or engage in a personalized learning program, instructional technology engages and motivates students to learn. However, we must always ensure the technological tool is the best resource to achieve the learning outcome(s).

Online Learning: Instructional Whole Group

Another effect way to use technology is whole group. Whether you are using a video to introduce a topic, extending learning for students, reviewing learning for an upcoming assessment, or monitoring progress by gathering individual data, these are just a few effective ways to use technology whole group. There are many resources like Plickers, Kahoot, Quizlet, and “voting” devices that provide methods to engage all students in learning.

Remember to keep in mind how the technology is being used and if this usage is meeting the learning outcomes for each student. Why? Sometimes students can get lost in the whole group lesson, and depending upon how the technology is being used, can be a waste of time.

Online Learning: Instructional Advantages

There are several advantages to using technology:

  • When students are using technology for learning, this usage does free up some time for you to work closely with other students who need additional supports, small group, or 1:1 time with you;
  • Students who use personalized learning programs like Lexia, Imagine Learning, MobyMax, and IXL are receiving instruction at the student’s readiness level and progress can be monitored via the teacher dashboard;
  • On the dashboard of most online programs, you’ll be informed of students who need remediation and those who are advancing their skill set.

Online Learning: Instructional Disadvantages

Just as there are advantages to using technology, there are also some disadvantages:

  • While students are engaged in learning, using a program that monitors students’ “whereabouts” in cyber world are effective in ensuring students are using the computer as a tool for learning and not exploring places outside of the learning requirements;
  • Students depend on technology so much, they lack the knowledge of finding information that is NOT on a computer;
  • Technology fatigue can set in and students begin to lack the enthusiasm for learning if they are on a screen most of the day.
Online Learning

Online Learning: The KEYS to Success

An important instructional strategy to always remember is to MIX IT UP. Students do NOT want to learn everything online. They need time to engage all learning intelligence, participate in the arts, movement, and engage with peers. Experiential learning supports students’ “why” I need to learn this and “how” this learning will help me. Therefore, I HIGHLY encourage you to mix up the various types of instruction.

In the face-to-face classroom, I plan my lessons using a blended learning format.  Some lessons are online; whereas, others are whole group, small group, and/or 1:1. Lessons are varied based upon the concept being taught. I always ask myself if technology is the BEST way to teach the content or if there is a better way. Keep the three questions above forefront when designing instructional lessons. Your students and parents will appreciate how you integrate online learning resources in the daily lesson sequence.

Online Learning: FREE Resource

There are numerous resources available that promote learning. Check out my free resource for some of my favorite online learning platforms that can be implemented in the classroom and/or into your instructional toolbox for future usage.

Online Learning: Related Resources

Check out my these related resources with some great ideas and links to support online learning for students.  

Tech Expo Experts

Technology Tips to Personalize Learning

How to Teach Computer Science: Code

Online Learning Consortium

Online Learning: Final Thoughts

Students are self motivated and better engaged when using technology. This work represents the work that adults do in their profession, and students understand this as “real work”. Over all my years of teaching, I have never had a student refuse to work on the computer, whether the student is designing a slide deck presentation, working with a partner, viewing a video to support content, or “playing” an educational game.

Remember: The trick to using technology appropriately is to mix up the day with varied learning opportunities that include technology when this is the best resource to use.  

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for 29 years working in the PK-6 elementary classroom, English learner instructional specialist, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    The kids in the outback studied by radio in the not so far gone days.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Radio? Do you mean they had like “walkie-talkies” to learn or the radio station. WOW! Either of those would be challenging.

  2. Karie

    We are so lucky now days that we can offer this online learning.

  3. Charlotte Boehms

    We didn’t get the chance to prep anything for our students. I hate that, but at the same time I’m glad to have uninterrupted time with my own kids.

  4. Holly

    Thank you so much! I have been looking for help for keeping the kids engaged and focused on education.

  5. Lisa

    This comes in handy now. My older kids do a lot of combined online and group learning!

  6. Tricia

    What a great resource for those who are at home! Thanks!

  7. Debbie

    Great resources. I hope children will be learning during this quarantine!

  8. Cora

    Best wishes to you as you teach! I was educated at home and we hope to be able to do the same for our girls when they’re old enough so I’ll be needing to learn how to teach well.

  9. Lucy

    thank you for sharing! this is exactly what everybody needs right now!

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