Educational technologies open up classroom instruction in interesting ways that traditional books and pencils can't. College students today have grown up using tech tools like mobile phones and spend their free time playing video games or Skyping with friends. Modern instructional technology meets students where they're at by introducing these same technologies into the classroom to augment instruction and strengthen student engagement.
Learning in virtual worlds like Linden Lab's Second Life (secondlife.com) represents one of the most interesting and innovative ways that instructors use technology in the classroom. Depending upon how an instructor sets up a class, part or all of the class will center around instruction that takes place in the virtual world.
For example, in Second Life, users create virtual reality avatars of themselves. They then can use their online counterparts to interact with people around the world, buy items and real estate, go to clubs or even go to class. Their tech-savvy professor creates a virtual classroom where these students can take in the day's lesson or even meet with their instructor for extra help during office hours.
Smartphones and tablets count among the hottest tech tools in the classroom. According to Jeremy Friedman in an article in Forbes Online, the proliferation of mobile apps on marketplace site such as Google Play and the iTunes mean that instructors can readily and inexpensively use these technologies to support classroom learning.
What's more, many college programs that offer educational technology degrees such as Boise State University's EdTech Masters program teach students how to develop their own mobile apps for use in the classroom. This allows teachers in these programs to create apps specifically for their classroom needs.
While it may seem incredible to some, more and more classrooms will see video games as an instructional tool. These interactive tools have a great deal to offer the college student. For example, the foreign language professor can assign a video game to help her students learn German. Savvy professors can also develop their own quest-based learning tools by creating games through interfaces such as the 3D Game Lab. This allows instructors to make lessons using existing technologies like World of Warcraft or Twitter to create game-based learning programs for the students in their class.
Instructors have embraced blogs as a classroom tool. Instructors who use blogging sites such as WordPress or Blogger for instructional purposes ask students to set up online learning logs for a class. They also use them to teach students the intricacies of netiquette, something that learners in the 21st century need to know about as more instruction moves to the web.
Additionally, instructors can use classroom blogs to help keep students abreast of classroom activities and to connect with other professors online. This interactivity allows instructors and students to reach beyond the confines of their classroom and make professional and academic contacts around the world.
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