It’s 2022, and we’ve made it past the pandemic-fueled video calls craze that came with the forced shift to virtual classrooms. Digital tools for the classroom are evolving every day and incorporating technology into education is no longer an option. It’s a requirement.
New requirements are creating new standards. New standards are creating new challenges.
A quick video lecture for a class is no longer cutting it, but the benefit of this change is that educators have more room to get creative with how they enhance their classroom.
As an educator, you may find yourself asking these questions:
- How can I keep up with the evolving classroom?
- How can I engage my students in a virtual world?
- How can I manage to implement feedback while giving individual attention to my students?
- What are my options for making the classroom more interactive?
- How can I make sure my students are building the necessary skills for career readiness?
Fortunately, these challenges are being met head-on by the increased availability of digital tools for the classroom. And with virtual reality like Kai XR’s exploration field trips being a top option for elementary students, we can’t help but be excited about the future technology is creating.
What Are Digital Tools for The Classroom?
Digital tools for the classroom include apps, software, and devices that create opportunities for virtual collaboration between students. They use multimedia, social media, games, and interactive learning to engage students in online materials.
To put it simply, digital tools for students are any technology that adds a virtual aspect to education.
For example, a common digital tool is a phone. It may not be the virtual reality system that brings the zoo to your backyard, but it is the screen that allows students to tap into this online world.
That’s the key benefit of digital learning tools used in the classroom: they make it possible to bridge that gap between the local and virtual worlds.
Navigating the online world is a skill for the times we live in. Having strong technological skills prepares students for future careers and enhances soft skills required for early jobs.
We’re not just adding digital tools to the classroom—we are using them to create an entirely new educational experience.
This means that devices like laptops, tablets, and phones are dominating classroom spaces, with positive results. Software, websites, and learning management systems are giving people the ability to enjoy hybrid virtual education.
The goal of this article is to show the tangible ways that digital tools are making a difference in education today. We’ll also highlight how our very own VR-based digital tool at Kai XR is creating value for educators and students.
Different Types of Digital Tools for School
The main benefit of having access to many types of digital tools for the classroom is the potential to customize your classroom fully or enact a hybrid model to meet student learning needs.
With 82% of students preferring blended learning styles to the traditional teaching environment, having options when it comes to digital tools is an asset.
Here we will go over some of the more advanced types of digital tools.
Digital Teacher Tools: Learning Management Systems
Often referred to as LMS, learning management systems are software that allows users to design and share their courses through mobile applications.
Examples of popular LMS platforms include:
- Google Classroom: an app designed so that educators can administer assignments paperlessly, and keep in touch inside and outside of the classroom.
- Blackboard: a mobile solution designed to supplement in-person classes or function as a standalone course-hosting platform.
- Canvas: a cloud-based LMS designed for K-5, high school, and college-level courses. Canvas is fully customizable and integrates well with the schools’ other teaching tools.
Learning management systems are generally owned by a specific organization and have comprehensive features that allow for file sharing, collaboration, and messaging.
Digital Teacher Tools: E-Learning Platforms
Sometimes referred to as online classrooms, e-learning platforms are similar to LMS. They both offer course creation, distribution, and content management.
The key difference between e-learning platforms and learning management systems is that e-learning platforms are generally accessible through apps or websites from any internet-connected device. LMS is accessed through the owner organization network (i.e. the software is purchased from the company and then downloaded or accessed via a software key).
Examples of popular e-learning platforms include:
- Adobe Captivate: a subscription service for course creators with ready-made content templates so that you can input content and go.
- Coursera: a course creation and course sharing platform used in universities, government, and career readiness programs.
- Codecademy: an e-learning platform geared toward young professionals looking to gain technical skills for free.
E-learning platforms add depth to the classroom and have been shown to help students retain between 25% and 60% more information than traditional classroom models.
Digital Teacher Tools: Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is a digital tool characterized by three-dimensional images and environments. It is an artificial environment that can be explored through the use of a VR headset.
Examples of popular virtual reality software include:
- Kai XR: Interactive 360º technology taking students on virtual field trips around the world.
- AnatomYou: a mobile application that takes users through human anatomy via virtual reality.
- Mondly: an immersive language learning experience where users can travel to different countries and test out their conversation skills online.
At Kai XR we use virtual reality to allow students to travel to places and experience immersive learning all through the use of digital apps and a VR headset. With the option to add live virtual instruction to the mix, Kai XR is heading the future of blended learning with metaverse classrooms.
Imagine the positive impact of being able to offer students experiential learning opportunities at a fraction of the cost of in-person events. In a classroom, there are often gaps in access to resources that can limit a student's involvement. With digital tools in the classroom like VR for virtual field trips, you can bridge that learning gap and create a more inclusive classroom.
Digital tools like our program are helping to create environments students wouldn’t otherwise have access to. With the help of learning management systems, e-learning, and virtual reality, educators have the option to create hybrid learning models that suit the needs of each class.
Pros vs Cons of Using Digital Tools in The Classroom
With increased access to technology comes increased responsibility for both educators and students.
The more we add to the classroom, the more we are expected to monitor. This can create challenges with digital tools in the classroom.
Common questions that come with adding digital tools for the classroom are:
- Will my student be spending too much time online?
- Does a focus on virtual learning mean educators will be less involved in the classroom?
- What if my child doesn’t have access to the tech at home?
These are valid concerns and most hybrid education models take them into consideration.
For example, schools can limit the amount of time students spend online and opt for a combination of teacher-led lectures and digital assessments to bring more balance to the classroom.
Focusing on digital learning doesn’t remove educators from the scene. It gives them more flexibility in how they interact with students and can create opportunities for individual attention in some cases.
Lastly, many schools have added programs to ensure students can rent laptops and other tech if it’s required for class.
Ultimately, Kai XR’s goal is to mitigate the risks associated with adding digital tools in the classroom by supporting their use through blended learning models.
Virtual reality technology like Kai XR is only part of the learning experience. Students are still guided to collaborate and integrate what they’ve learned through personal development in the real world.
Pros of Digital Classroom Tools
Fostering opportunities for growth is the foundation of the classroom. Just like tests create opportunities for students to see their strengths, digital tools in the classroom create opportunities for students to see their creativity realized.
The pros revolve around the ways digital tools invite growth opportunities, for both students and educators.
The main pros of digital tools for education are:
- Customized learning available through adaptive technology
- Integration of technology into the classroom prepares students for technology use in future careers
- Positive association with gaining soft skills in social-emotional learning with digital media
Cons of Digital Classroom Tools
The cons come into play when you consider that virtual reality is relatively new. The increased opportunity can come with challenges for educators such as:
- Potential to take a more distant approach to teaching material
- Unequal access to technology in homes
- Negative association with too much screen time
Overall, solutions can be found in blended learning and open communication between peers, parents, and educators.
Top 6 Ways to Use Digital Tools to Enhance The Classroom
The cons don’t dampen our enthusiasm for digital tools in the classroom. We can imagine a learning environment that adapts to the needs of the student. We picture a classroom that brings educational materials to life online.
That is what it means to envision a reality that extends beyond the classroom. With digital tools, all of this becomes possible.
The use of virtual reality for teaching creates an immersive experience for students that wouldn’t otherwise be possible if not for technology.
You can use digital tools to enhance the classroom by:
- Taking advantage of asynchronous learning to encourage learner-centered education
- Using adaptive learning to support individual attention
- Incorporating gamification to increase engagement
- Using digital tools to create options for immediate feedback
- Incorporating digital tools to encourage collaboration
- Adding digital assessment tools to enhance test-taking
Digital Tools for Teachers Can Encourage Learner-Centered Education
Asynchronous learning makes it easy for students to learn at their own pace, usually within a specified timeframe. It is a key benefit of incorporating virtual reality technology in the classroom.
For students, this means that they have access to required materials all at once and can independently engage with their studies. For educators, this means they can prioritize meeting students where their needs are without the restrictions of synchronous learning.
This results in increased flexibility in the classroom and more learner-centered teaching.
There are multiple benefits to learner-centered education, including:
- Allowing for preparation for life outside of the classroom
- Encouraging active learning
- Building problem-solving skills
- Supporting independent thinking necessary for a successful future career
- Facilitating personalized learning
- Encouraging the development of 21st-century learning skills like creativity, independence, and information literacy
The option for students to learn at their own pace with the support of educators and peers creates a balanced educational experience for all involved.
Digital Tools in the Classroom Utilize Adaptive Learning
Some of the best digital tools for teachers rely on adaptive learning in the classroom. Adaptive learning is a process where technology analyzes a student's performance and uses this data to customize what educational material they work with.
In a typical classroom, all students experience the same material. The only difference from student to student is how fast they are able to complete assignments.. This can be frustrating for students struggling with a particular concept. As their pile of work increases, it becomes more and more difficult to catch up to peers.
With adaptive learning (made possible with digital tools for the classroom), students are fed information, presented with feedback, and then supported with materials chosen just for them. This ensures that educators can meet the unique needs of each learner.
Individual attention has been shown to encourage better learning outcomes and assist in helping students to develop social-emotional learning skills.
Digital tools for educators that incorporate adaptive learning include:
- Sumdog Math and Spelling: a game-based app that focuses on building fluency in math and spelling for children aged 5-14.
- DoodleLearning: a personalized learning system designed to be used for 10 minutes a day and boost confidence in math and English curriculum. It is geared toward 4-14-year-olds.
- BioBrain: an interactive STEM platform that incorporates immediate feedback and is intended for all ages.
By incorporating adaptive learning technology into the classroom, educators are more informed on the individual needs of their students, and students are equipped with resources for an optimized learning experience.
Digital Learning Tools in the Classroom Can Incorporate Gamification
Gamification is the use of interactive games in the classroom. It’s a new digital tool for teachers and has already been shown to:
- Increase engagement
- Increase student performance by up to 34.74%
- Increase student motivation
VR games fall into this category as game-based learning for kids. Virtual reality gaming is predicted to be among one of the leading revenue opportunities for developers, displaying growth of 21.4% between 2019 and 2024.
Gamification is here to stay and it’s bringing a fresh perspective to the classroom.
To learn more about games in the classroom, check out Kai XR’s article How to Find the Best VR Games for Kids.
Incorporating Digital Tools for Teachers to Encourage Collaboration
2020 changed the way we view collaboration. It took classrooms and turned them into video lecture halls. It took group activities and turned them into web chats.
You can’t get teachers, students, and parents all on the same page with just one communication channel.
Or can you?
The new tools for digital education are creating more and more ways to collaborate inside and outside of the classroom. This includes
- Student to student chat capability
- Reminders for parents
- Announcement messaging for homework
And much more!
Collaborative tools for educators encourage communication at all levels, and this is key in mitigating the cons of adding technology to the classroom.
Here are ways that popular digital tools are encouraging collaboration:
- Kaizena and Quick Key offer instant grading and real-time feedback.
- Miro and AnswerGarden foster team collaboration through virtual whiteboards for online brainstorming
- Voxer and Remind have recording capability to keep parents updated with class happenings and reminder services to keep parents engaged with students' assignments and progress.
Digital tools for educators increase the ways we can collaborate. Whether that be through visual teamwork on digital whiteboards or taking group field trips with virtual reality, the collaborative process continues to evolve with the help of technology.
Add Digital Assessment Tools to Enhance Test Taking
A constant of education is the need to measure improvement. We do this with assessments and exams, which until recently, were mainly administered on paper.
Benefits of using digital tools and resources for your classroom include the ability to:
- Incorporate immediate feedback which is shown to improve learner performance
- Create an integrated learning experience which is shown to increase engagement
- Prepare students for independent learning which is key for healthy development
At the end of the day, the goal is to improve educational environments with technology. Digital tools play a large part in this, as they create opportunities for students to engage in a way that prepares them for the real-world application of their studies.
Key Takeaways of Benefits of Using Digital Tools for Educators and Students
Incorporating digital tools in the classroom benefits both teachers and students.
This is because these tools encourage student collaboration and allow for adaptability in lesson planning, assessment, and customization.
Digital Tools For Educators
Lesson planning and instruction are intended to be supportive for students at all levels. The best tools for teachers:
- Streamline assessment process
- Open the doors for communication between parents and students
- Use video capability to create the potential for remote instruction
- Allow hybrid learning which encourages flexibility in instruction
- Can create more opportunities for customized lessons without adding additional responsibility to educators
Digital tools are a resource worth investing into when educators benefit in these ways.
Digital Tools For Students
Students benefit from both the addition of digital tools in the classroom and in the way technology inherently changes learning environments. This is shown through:
- Enhanced feedback
- Visual learning bringing an increased engagement
- Encouragement of creative collaboration
- Development of technology skills for real-world application
- Provision of learner-focused education
At Kai XR we like to think of virtual reality as a window to the exploration of new worlds. For students, there is nothing better than providing an opportunity to learn something new.
How Will You Use Digital Tools in Your Classroom?
The addition of digital tools for school continues to transform the way students and educators experience the classroom. From virtual reality to learning management systems, opportunities to engage and inspire students are limitless.
We can use digital tools to help educators have a more cohesive classroom experience while allowing students to explore independently.
The only way it could get better would be if there was a way for students to explore not just new ideas, but new places from wherever they’re at.
But wait, there is!
At Kai XR we believe digital tools do more than make the classroom fun and engaging. They have the power to encourage students to ask better questions, think critically, and nurture soft skills needed for future careers.
Our 360º technology is opening doors for inclusivity and opening virtual doors to new worlds. With field trips like New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture available, you’re only a sign-up away from adding virtual reality to your classroom.
Kai XR is committed to breaking education barriers by increasing access to new technology. That’s why we have more than one option to add classroom digital tools to your life.
Tell us about your learning objectives and schedule a demo for your schools and learning centers. If you’re a small group, we also have monthly subscription options to make it more accessible. Get started with Kai XR today!
Featured Photo by Max Fischer