As technology becomes more and more pervasive in the educational setting, and teachers embrace it in the classroom by way of blended teaching, it becomes more difficult—and also increasingly more important—for parents to understand the educational tech tools available to help their children excel while participating in other activities they want to pursue.
Educational Tech Tools- A Mother’s Story
Valerie Hartford has spent years volunteering at her two sons’ schools. Some time ago her younger son changed schools and had a lengthy commute to his new school. He is a very involved soccer player and has limited time at night, so it was quite a challenge to find the time to study for tests during the school week. One morning he was panicking about an upcoming test, and Valerie realized she could help him by recording his outlined notes onto his cellphone. That way, he could listen to the notes instead of music when he was on the bus, getting ready for school or anywhere else. The strategy worked—his grades improved—and Valerie thought about promoting this idea to other students. But she decided she needed a better solution to help them navigate their notes. If they needed to listen to a certain section, for example, they should be able to rewind or fast-forward to the beginning of a section instead of having to listen to the notes from the beginning again. They should be able to pick up where they left off, and change the speed of speech, if necessary. She found a software engineer who helped bring her vision to reality via OutlinesOutloud, an iPhone app now available in the App Store.
Top 5 Educational Tech Tools For Students To Use To Their Advantage
Below are Valerie Hartford’s recommendations for other educational technology tools that parents should be aware of in order to help their children. It is important to note here Valerie is detailing the technology her son currently uses, and that there are additional options available for younger and older age groups.
Quizlet: www.quizlet.com This is an app that lets you create flashcards. I really like it because of two particular features my son uses: audio and tests. Your student can listen to the content on their phone. This also means they get to absorb the information three different ways: reading, typing and listening. The other feature that is very useful is the ‘test’ feature. Quizlet will prepare a quick test on the content of their ‘set’ of flashcards. It can create more than one test so they can re-test until they get everything right. They can share the set with their friends and now some teachers are creating sets online for their students to study.
Khan Academy: khanacademy.org This is a website that offers video tutorials on a wide range of topics. My son first used it for math. He didn’t fully understand a concept his teacher had taught that day in class, and so went on the Khan Academy website to watch a tutorial. He was able to go through the math problem step by step, and replay it if he missed something. This site is another way of reinforcing what he learned and making sure that he was comfortable with the information. I would really recommend this as a way for your student to review concepts they learn in class.
Evernote: www.evernote.com This is a tool with which to take notes and organize them. It has several features that allow you to add to your notes to make them more sophisticated, such as adding photos, audio, webclipper etc. My son finds it very useful. Up until his current grade level, the teachers would give him and his fellow students handouts or make notes available on the class website. Now they have to take their own notes in class, and Evernote makes it easy to keep on track and have ready access to organized notes.
OmniOutliner: omnigroup.com At its core, this software lets you create outlines from your notes/ bulk information. But OmniOutliner’s features allow you do a lot more with your outline than simply make bullet points and assign information. It’s very user friendly, makes outlining easy, and as a result helps students develop effective study habits. (Note: Be sure to look for the student price in OmniGroup’s educational store.)
OutlinesOutloud: www.outlinesoutloud.com This is a study tool that allows students to study anywhere without having to haul their textbooks or laptop with them. With OOL, they can study while they’re walking, commuting, waiting in between classes, involved in after school activities, or even just getting ready for school in the morning—in short, they can make more efficient use of their time, which gives them more free time later. If they are auditory learners, it provides the opportunity to study in the way most effective for their particular learning style. If they are visual learners, it adds to the quality of their study by providing the opportunity for absorbing the information via another sensory channel. With increasing numbers of school districts making iPads available ,students can type and save their class notes straight to their devices (if the teacher permits that in class time), so the notes are ready to listen to right away. It’s a really convenient and easy way to study anywhere.
I hope you find these educational tech tools useful in encouraging your child and helping them do well in school.
Guest post by Valerie Hartford who is a mom, founder of StudyOutloud LLC and creator of OutlinesOutloud.