If your tech-savvy
student hasn’t already made it clear, the Digital Age has taken firm root in
As Promethean Boards
replace blackboards and the Internet connects tutors and students across thousands
of miles, the way we educate students has taken a virtual turn. Bolstered by
federal initiatives like the National Education Technology Plan and the newly
formed Digital Promise center, teachers and students have begun the long
process of revolutionizing education in America.
According to a 2005
report released by the U.S. Department of Education, “The technology that has
so dramatically changed the world outside our schools is now changing the
learning and teaching environment within them. This change is driven by an
increasingly competitive global economy and the students themselves, who are
‘born and comfortable in the age of the Internet.’
The report, titled
“Toward a New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and
Today's Students are Revolutionizing Expectation,” also identifies the key role
teachers play in ushering in what it calls a “new golden age in American
transforming what can be done in schools by using technology to access primary
sources, exposing students to a variety of perspectives, and enhancing
students' overall learning experience through multimedia, simulations and
interactive software,” according to the report.
For Simon Dowle, a
fifth-grade teacher at Martin Kellogg Middle School in Newington, Conn., it all
starts on his iPad. With apps like Pages, Numbers, and Powerteacher Mobile,
Dowle can plan his lessons; grade papers; and keep student progress up to date,
all in one handy place. Plus, all that info is backed up on the iCloud database.
Web-based programs like Linoit and Remind101, along with his teacher website,
enable Dowle to keep in touch with students and parents in a safe, virtual
environment. Sound impersonal? Hardly.
“With all the virtual
contact I can have with students and parents, I don’t have to wait for an
answer (from them)… “I’m getting them information in so many different ways,
accountability is really placed on them,” Dowle says.
What’s more, as
broadband becomes available to more schools and students and as more schools
invest in e-readers, e-books, and computers, more students will be able to take
advantage of the numerous resources available to them. Beyond the
organizational benefits that devices like an iPad provides, educational
applications often engage a wider spectrum of learners.
“You have to really
grow with what [students] are used to so you can meet them at their level,”
Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton of the U.S. Department of
Education recently noted, “Technology has the potential to greatly enhance
student engagement, increase personalized learning, enable students to earn
credit and progress at their own pace, and equip teachers with the tools needed
to differentiate instruction.”
Dowle agrees. “A lot
of is to do with motivation…it’s something new. Some kids are just not
comfortable with a book. They need something else, and [educational
applications] provide it.”
Of course, there’s a
wide world of educational software on the market. Perform a search of
“educational applications” and you’ll come back with thousands of options
across a wide spectrum of subject areas. With so many tools available for Apple
and Android devices, it’s tough to know where to start if you’re new to virtual
learning. We’ve culled a list of 10 apps that we think will enhance the
learning experiences of just about anyone.