No doubt generation Z wants more engagement and involvement in the classrooms, and it is just amazing how technology can help educators create opportunities for more active and engaging learning. We just need to realise how technology can transform the way we teach in the digital age. While pedagogy should drive the technology use when designing learning experiences, great technology prompts us to think in more creative ways. Here are three ways to create learner-centred classrooms using three amazing digital tools:
1- Increasing learner accountability
Accountability is an important skill we all want our students to develop. It helps them own the responsibility of their learning, actions and their academic performance. It is a skill that can develop in time and with a more holistic approach, however you can still consider the level of accountability you assign to your students when planning your lessons.
Flipgrid is a perfect tool you can use to encourage students to assess their own learning and set learning goals for themselves by creating and uploading their videos onto the class grid. Flipgrid is a simple tool where you create a topic to which students send their video responses. You can ask them to express what they have learned, what they think can improve and what they should be aiming to achieve in the next lesson or semester in video format. Students can also showcase their work in the videos and create a kind of e-portfolio to demonstrate their achievements.
Another creative way of using Flipgrid to increase accountability in your classrooms is student-led parent conferences. You would lead the conversation and show the student work to their parents in the traditional model. With Flipgrid students take the lead demonstrating what they have achieved to their parents throughout the semester using their video-portfolio on Flipgrid.
2- Encouraging inquiry-based learning
Let’s face the fact that lectures are not always fun and engaging, especially when information is so widely available on the Internet. Instead, let students find their own answers to the questions they are curious about. Inquiry-based lessons lead to curiosity, which then results in more engagement.
Anyone remember web-quests where you would design inquiry-based tasks for students? They would start with some research on a specific topic, gather information and present their tasks online. We do not have web-quests anymore although they were great learning tools, but we have a tool with a similar idea behind: Hyperdocs. They are simply designed in a Google document with the steps of a task design: Engage, explore, apply, reflect and extend. You can find a great example here. With Hyperdocs students take a more active role while exploring a topic and find their answers on their own.
3- Letting them create learning content – not consume it
Teachers spend a lot of time creating content for students to learn. While it is necessary for most of the time, why not asking them to create their own learning content from time to time. A traditional example of this would be students’ creating vocabulary flashcards and then use them for practice. Instead of you finding the pictures, cutting them out and even laminating them, they can create them and learn at the same time. The techie way of doing this is Pear Deck and Quizlet in combination. A little tutorial first: Pear Deck’s Flashcard Factory allows you to create a list of words and their definitions on your teacher dashboard, but the fun part is that students then take this list and create flashcards with visuals while they can pair up and work together to create them. You can then export the set of student-made flashcards to Quizlet where your students can have further practice.
When you know what tools are available out there, it is easier to get creative and think of alternative ways to make learning more motivating for students. What techniques or digital tools do you use to adapt your teaching to the new generation’s learning preferences? Leave a comment below.