It’s Time to Embrace Digital Collaboration in the Classroom. Here’s Why

 

 

 

Jessica Menasian, LanSchool Sr. Sales Manager

It’s official: Technology has been cast in a leading role at schools, and it’s taking center stage—according to your students, that is.

Many children are using smartphones and tablets before age 2. By the time they’ve reached third grade, 90% of students regularly spend time online. More than 8 in 10 high schoolers have access to mobile phones, and college students have admitted to spending 20% of classroom time using digital devices...often for activities unrelated to class.

In school districts around the world, the debates abound. Should students be encouraged to leverage smartphones when discussing literature, as they are in some Boston area high schools? Or be banned from using them altogether, as many UK students are?

Or is it time to write a new script altogether—one that embraces the presence of technology in schools as an opportunity to enhance collaborative learning?

In a growing number of classrooms, teachers are choosing the latter and discovering new ways to improve outcomes with educational apps and tools.  

3 Compelling Examples of Digital Collaboration in the Classroom

Imagine a classroom where every single student is staring not at a textbook, but rather a mobile screen...because the teacher is encouraging them to. Rows of identical tablets are used as the entire group works together to solve a complex problem. Students are actively volunteering ideas and suggesting solutions.

When teachers embrace technology as a way to collaborate and communicate, great things can happen. For example, here are three ways teachers are embracing digital collaboration with help from classroom management software:

1.  Seamless Screen Sharing

These days, there’s a lot competing for students’ energy and attention. In recent years, many classrooms have gotten bigger, testing stakes have gotten higher and school days are as much as 90 minutes longer. If concentrating in class was challenging a generation ago, it can sometimes feel nearly impossible now.

That is, unless you have a way to help students stay on task and engage with the subject at hand. Screen sharing allows you to do just that. Using classroom management software, teachers can broadcast a single screen so it appears on every device in the room—to ensure that all students make their ways to the same website, for example, or that no one’s getting too far behind on an important discussion.

And any time a student is performing particularly well or has an idea that will benefit peers, the teacher can easily showcase that individual’s work by screen sharing it with the class.

2. Customizable Conversations

Another popular trend in education is group learning. With a growing body of research touting the benefits of group work, students are regularly encouraged to voice opinions and share ideas. Classroom participation has become so important that it’s often factored into grades.

Here’s the kicker:

Many of modern history’s greatest thinkers were quiet, shy and unlikely to speak up in group settings: Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Larry Page, J.K. Rowling.

According to Susan Cain, a leading expert on introverts, “none of them would have made ideal students.”

In an education landscape that favors participation, it can be difficult for the quiet thinkers to get involved. With digital collaboration tools, teachers have more ways to engage these students.

For example, sending a private message can provide a much-needed boost in confidence when a student who’s doing standout work is uncomfortable in the spotlight. In other cases, private chat can be used to discretely help students who may be embarrassed to ask for assistance.

With digital collaboration, teachers have more ways to accommodate different learning styles and needs. Audio chat, individual messaging,
group chat and more can be used to answer questions quickly and provide assistance as it’s needed.

3. Perceptive Polling

If there’s one thing every teacher has experienced, it’s this:

Distractions are everywhere.

And it’s up to teachers to help students learn to cope with them. We know from research that students who learn how to shut out distractions and concentrate are more likely to succeed, both in school and later in life.

This presents a real challenge, particularly when teachers are attempting to simultaneously monitor the progress of dozens of students.

It’s also an area where digital collaboration in the classroom can make a tremendous difference. Tools such as quick quizzes and polls can be used to assess overall levels of engagement and comprehension at any given time. Sharing results with the class as they come in allows teachers to discover where a different approach may be needed and make adjustments in real time.

At LanSchool, we’ve seen the above scenarios play out in a variety of ways. Our classroom management software has transformed the role of millions of devices in thousands of classrooms. As one school district’s technology coordinator described it:

“LanSchool gives our teachers the tools to turn a potential distraction into an important one-on-one teaching opportunity. It has transformed how we use [digital devices] in all of our classrooms.”

To learn more about how the right tools can make technology an integral part of collaborative learning, visit lenovosoftware.com/lanschool. (While you’re there, go ahead and request a LanSchool trial, too.)