Digital tools can help transform the teacher's role

3 digital tools that are shifting the teacher’s role

Digital tools can help transform the teacher's role--as long as they aren't complicating the instructional process

Technology has infused classrooms with useful digital learning tools and has ushered in a new model of connected teaching. Teachers are now linked to professional content, resources, and systems designed to improve instruction and increase personalized learning.

But are all these tech tools making a teacher’s job easier. or more difficult and time-consuming? Teachers are now expected to have data analysis skills at a much deeper level than required in the past.

Related content: 12 findings about K-12 digital learning

In today’s digital world, they are expected to manage a great deal of technology–at least three different platforms to input their own data, student attendance, grades, and lesson plans. They are required to help their students access multitudes of apps and websites for various learning and support. They are also expected to view and use data they or others gather to inform instruction. They are expected to create individualized lesson plans for each child’s learning needs.

To truly harness the power of technology in education (minus the frustrations), teachers should have access to digital tools, including artificial intelligence (AI), which analyzes data and plans instruction. Digital tools need to become more intuitive, and seamless–just like when you turn on the TV or computer and Netflix tells you what to watch.

1. Intuitive AI tools can transform from something teachers have to manage to something that supports them. Lexplore uses AI and eye tracking to provide a clear view of a student’s reading level, providing reading scores and recommendations for instruction in just a few minutes. Eye tracking technology allows teachers to truly “see” how students are reading. Thanks to AI analysis, the eye movement patterns are translated into actionable data.

2. While teachers have always had to analyze data about how their students are learning, there are new data analytics tools that automate much of their work, allowing them to spend less time administering and more time teaching. A nonprofit organization that is pushing the envelope on intuitive digital tools for teachers is New Classrooms, which advocates for teachers to do what they do best while letting technology take care of the rest. The idea behind organizations like New Classrooms is to advocate how tech tools can help teachers without requiring them to become data analysts.

3. Meanwhile, Triumph Learning has an online learning platform called GET Waggle, which focuses on state standards-aligned content in English/language arts and math, and is built with embedded analytics at the core. Waggle, which uses games, review sections, progress indicators, and other fun features to engage students in the learning process, can be used in the classroom or at home. The platform is powered by an adaptive engine that analyzes what students know and how they learn best. It provides learning recommendations and instructions that are customized for each student. This technology is a great example of arming educators with effective digital tools that enable them to teach and not be data analysts.

A survey by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that 91 percent of teachers report using some form of analytics solution, but only 32 percent found the data interpretation to be useful. As stated in the above article, “This raises the question: Is it reasonable to expect teachers to be experts in data analysis and interpretation, given the fact they do not feel supported and are already overwhelmed with their duties in the classroom?”

So, what will the future classroom look like in terms of digital tools that enhance both the teaching and learning experience?

Joel Rose of New Classrooms won’t try to predict the future, but said that we will need to embrace the idea that there are fundamentally better ways to do school:
“To do that, we need to fully grasp the extent to which the traditional school model has been entrenched and reinforced for more than 100 years, not just on schools themselves, but on the systems, structures, and mindsets within them. Once we step back and understand how all of the different aspects affect student learning, we can begin to design innovative learning models with students at the center of the experience.”

Once we understand what learning models are best for students, we can better understand the best roles for teachers.

eSchool Media Contributors