Best Apps and Strategies for Effective Collaboration in Your Classroom

Harnessing the power of technology in education is not a brand new concept. For decades, teachers have found innovative methods to engage the minds and imaginations of students through a platform that kids understand, a trending pulse they are immersed in already. And for this current generation, that means going mobile.

Given that students connect with each other and interact with the culture on their devices, it stands to reason that technology can be effective inside the classroom too. In fact, points out Harvard Magazine, “as the digital realm has permeated almost every aspect of modern life, institutions like schools remain vital levelers” in rebranding the curriculum for today’s learners. This is how to instill an appreciation for hitting the books.

Most leaders in the school system tend to agree with this assessment, considering that 57% of teachers indicate technology is an “important supplemental resource used to personalize the learning experience based on each student’s strengths, weaknesses and preferences,” according to a 2018 survey from the Education Week Research Center.

But as a teacher who might be unsure of how to fuse technology with classroom instruction, the question remains, where can you start? These online apps and websites are ideal resources to promote a creative, enriching, collaborative experience where students can be taught in a manner that is uniquely accessible to their demographic’s frame of reference.

Edmodo

This platform joins students, teachers and even parents together in a shared learning process through one cohesive interface. The endless storage capacity and functional suite of tools make all aspects of running a classroom more efficient and interactive. From assigning homework to creating exam questions to facilitating discussions to communicating with parents, Edmodo allows for active participation and empowers students to take charge of their own education.

This website also integrates with Google Apps and Microsoft Office, so you can merge content from other sources into just one easy-to-track location.  For example, you can use educational materials from Bid4papers to help your students write better papers and learn new writing tips. 

Yammer

This platform is a social media network where you can create private groups to house internal communication with your students. Although this website is primarily geared toward companies and organizations, it fosters productive classroom dialogue too. Yammer is structured in a series of forums that allow both students and teachers to post relevant information, collaborate on assignments, check deadlines or module updates, and contribute to educational debates. With the wide-ranging impact of social media on their lives, this format will resonate with students and excite them to participate in classroom activities. 

PowerSchool

This platform has been designed for all academic levels, from kindergarten to twelfth grade, to give students a “choice and voice” in how they learn. This multimedia interface enables teachers to make collaborative assignments, projects, discussion boards and lesson plans, then oversee your students’ progress on this curriculum throughout the year. In addition to promoting engagement in your own classroom, PowerSchool offers the unique ability to connect with other teachers, administrators and student bodies through the website’s Learning Library to initiate a unified and interdependent educational community. 

Twiddla

This platform functions as a virtual whiteboard you can access online and operate like an actual whiteboard in your classroom space. This website requires a subscription to activate, but its extensive features make the cost worthwhile. On the Twiddla screen, you can annotate documents, webpages, charts or diagrams, lecture notes, images and other data, while browsing the internet to upload more resources at the same time. This program is also interactive because, once they join the Twiddla session, your students can highlight, insert text and screenshot material to reference later when studying at home.

Kids in the modern school system are known as “digital natives” which means they have not experienced a time without technology at their fingertips. They are often more literate in using the internet or mobile devices than adults, and their minds are stimulated by the information they can retrieve online. Technology commands the attention of students, and teachers would be remiss to exclude it from classroom instruction.

A meta-analysis from the U.S. Department of Education found that students who have the option to learn from technology backed curriculum score higher in academic performance overall. This is because they can collaborate, discourse and engage with one another on a medium their entire demographic is already familiar with. As a result, these students are keener to participate in learning initiatives which boosts their level of success.

The bottom line is this: kids want an academic experience that reflects how they absorb material, connect with new ideas and discover the world around them. Technology offers this avenue for their fertile and curious minds, so when utilized in a classroom setting, it can transform your students into passionate learners and active participants who are excited about the investments you make in their educational growth.

 

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