4 edtech steps towards student empowerment

Kristy Lundström

Starting out as a Mathematics and Computer science teacher, Kristy Lundström understands the impact effective technology and systematic thinking can have on learning. She has worked as a Head of School for more than 10 years in Sweden, Belgium and the US. In every school, she seeks to empower teachers, support students and build communities. Her philosophy can be summed up by her favourite hashtag:  #unleashpotential

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Images courtesy of author. // Image credit: Flickr // room18tis. Images courtesy of author. // Image credit: Flickr // room18tis.

With so many new technologies developing so fast - AI, machine learning, VR, AR, apps for everything - it can be a struggle for teachers to know which ones to focus on. What is the hottest edtech trend for 2018? For me, the focus is on empowering students.

If we could find sustainable ways to empower our students to take more interest, more control and more responsibility for their own learning, we could (in theory) be more effective in use of time and resources. We could be more effective in meeting each student where they are. We could be more effective in identifying their development needs. We could optimise the time we have together. Here are a few ideas to do just that …

1. Self-testing

Students test themselves and let teachers know when they are ready to be assessed. There are many self-grading quiz apps out there. Quizstar, Quizlet or Google Forms all offer easy, adaptable options for any teacher to create a quiz that aids students in checking their understanding of basic knowledge. Or, why not let students create their own quizzes for each other?

2. Self-editing

Self-editing and thorough reflection can be excellent learning tasks, but often need the support of a teacher. Using apps like Grammarly to help students find their grammar errors before turning in an essay can build self-confidence and self-awareness. Here is one teacher’s description of how he uses Grammarly in the classroom.

YouTube link

3. Self-reflection

Continual and active reflection of one’s own development can also be a powerful tool. And it does not have to be difficult. Why not just have each student open a Google doc and share it with their teacher at the start of each course? At the end of each week, the student could write 10 minutes to reflect on: Where am I now? Where am I going? What’s the next step to get there? Check out this example from Jen Roberts.

Or, have students write a tweet to sum up their understanding of today’s lesson. This applet lets you save those tweets to a spreadsheet, which makes it easy for the teacher to review.

4. Peer-review

Sharing docs and organising peer-review can empower students to help each other and help themselves. By seeing good examples and even not so good examples, students can become more critical and more constructive. Using a tool like www.peergrade.io makes assigning random or decided peer groups easy, plus it captures the feedback in a understandable and digestible way. Have a look at this example to see how one teacher used it to empower students to improve their essays before turning it in for their first “teacher” feedback. Or, here to read about an essay contest where students not only write an essay, but also must peer grade three others as part of the competition.

Using many different tools can be confusing and provide lots of unrelated data. Therefore, we must pick and choose which tools work for the needs of our students. If you use an LMS, most of these tools are integrated, and the learning data collected is tagged so that it can be easily sorted. Either way, the more we help our students take ownership of their own learning process, the closer we will be to understanding their needs.

These are four ways we could take advantage of technology to further empower our students to self-regulate, self-motivate and self-evaluate.

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