Education technology (EdTech) is an integral part of the classroom experience. Most educators use online learning throughout the day, even though students have returned to the in-person classroom. There are countless tools, apps, and games that make learning more engaging and explain core concepts to students in unique ways.
One survey of 846 teachers by the EdWeek Research Center found the majority of educators use online learning daily. Fifty-five percent spend between one and four hours a day using digital tools to facilitate learning. On the high end, 27 percent of teachers spend more than five hours each day using online learning to engage students. Only one percent of teachers don’t use EdTech in the classroom.
After a year of remote learning during the pandemic, many teachers and parents were eager for students to return to the in-person classroom. Why do educators continue to use classroom online games now that kids can interact in person safely? Let’s explore EdTech and its current role in the classroom experience.
Students are Comfortable Using EdTech
A big part of lesson planning is ensuring students can use the tools and systems that teachers want to incorporate into the classroom experience. The more teachers have to explain how something works, the less time they have to focus on the core materials. Students can also get easily distracted if they are confused by the task, focusing more on the directions and less on the actual material.
Fortunately, most students are incredibly comfortable around technology. According to a Fall 2022 report on EdTech use, students engage with more than 143 tools throughout the year. These range from websites they use daily (like YouTube) to subject-specific apps that teachers incorporate during the year. On a monthly basis, the average school district used more than 1,400 tools between teachers and students of all grades.
Most students feel comfortable navigating websites and exploring new apps. Teachers can instruct students on how to use these systems quickly and then can move into other parts of instruction. This gives students more time to focus on the material rather than app onboarding.
Quality EdTech Apps Focus on Instruction
A decade ago, classroom technology was used as a reward for students. Teachers would allow students to play games if they had free time or would introduce technology-based activities that reinforced the lessons they already discussed. During this time, learning occurred through books or on whiteboards. Computers were for play.
However, modern EdTech systems are working to change this belief system. They want to challenge the stereotype that students won’t learn through apps and games. At eSpark, our goal is to create a system that can introduce ideas to students for the first time. They can learn what a fraction is during an adventure quest and then play a game where they identify which fractions are bigger and smaller.
These classroom online games also benefit teachers. They receive immediate reports on which students are mastering the concepts and which students need help. This allows them to allocate their time and energy effectively. Rather than checking to see if an entire class understands the material or spending hours grading assignments at night, teachers can immediately identify the students who might need clarification.
Modern EdTech isn’t limited to free time on rainy days. It is an essential tool for teaching core concepts.
More Schools Are Investing in One-to-One Systems
Another way that the modern classroom has changed over the past few years is the rise of one-to-one technology. This is the idea that every student is given a computer to tablet to work with throughout the day.
Before the pandemic, one-to-one was considered a luxury. Schools that couldn’t afford to equip each student with a computer had to rely on single computer labs or laptop carts that were checked out by teachers. However, the period of remote learning showed how beneficial the one-to-one setup can be.
Here are some statistics that show how one-to-one systems have grown in the past five years:
- In August 2019, only 28 percent of districts have a one-to-one environment across all grade levels.
- By May 2020, 59 percent of schools had at least one device for every student.
- Before the pandemic, only 42 percent of elementary schools had “one student per device” saturation. That percentage jumped to 84 percent by 2021.
As more schools invest in one-to-one systems, teachers can build more lesson plans that incorporate online learning. They no longer have to worry that the computer lab won’t be available on the day they want to use an EdTech app.
Kids Like It
Teachers continue to invest in classroom online games for one simple reason: their students like them. Keeping the attention of kids at any grade is challenging, from elementary learners who are easily distracted to older students who are too cool for school. Teachers need lesson plans that are both exciting and effective at teaching the material – more often, these come in a gaming format.
One survey of 1,000 parents of K-12 kids found that 80 percent of their children either dislike school or feel bored when learning. One of the biggest challenges, according to parents, is staying engaged and focused on the content, with half of the respondents highlighting these issues.
There is good news: when teachers incorporate purposeful play in the classroom, students pay attention. Almost 90 percent of teachers noticed an improvement in student engagement when creating space for purposeful play – like classroom online games.
As long as students are interested in the games and activities they introduce, teachers will continue to use EdTech to keep students engaged in the learning process.
It’s Okay to Combine Online and In-Person Education
Classroom online games and in-person instruction don’t have to be at odds with each other. You can develop kinesthetic activities that get students moving in the morning and then use computer-based instruction in the afternoon. Your goal is to get students excited about learning. If apps and other EdTech systems help with that, stick with what works.