Graham Glass, CEO of CYPHER LEARNING explores how secondary school teachers can harness edtech resources to maximise their limited time and supplies, while delivering a more engaging, personalised experience for students
The number of secondary school teachers has fallen dramatically in the last decade or so. Teachers everywhere point to high levels of stress, long working hours and not enough support as the main issues behind their decision to part ways with the education system, with secondary school teachers leading the trend.
With smaller numbers of teachers, it’s easy for secondary schools to fall in the vicious cycle of poor performance: fewer teachers means bigger classes, which means each student gets less teaching attention, which leads to worse grades, which reflect poorly on the teacher’s professional performance, which makes them want to get out of the system.
To break out of this cycle — or avoid it altogether — secondary school teachers do need all the support they can get. This can come in various shapes and forms, but education technology will always be in the mix.
So let’s explore how teachers can harness edtech resources to maximise their limited time and supplies, while also delivering a more engaging, personalised experience for secondary learners.
How an LMS can help time-poor teachers to engage older students
Part of the challenge for secondary school educators is being able to motivate and meet the individual needs of learners at a time when abilities, interests and willingness to learn can vary considerably.
The use of edtech tools such as learning management systems (LMS) can help teachers to improve the design and delivery of instruction, as well as support in assessing student progress, to give a few hours back to the teachers each week while providing a more personalised learning experience for each student.
Better organisation of resources
A learning management system allows teachers to host various types of learning materials in one centralised location, helping them to streamline their workloads and better plan ahead for future lessons. From the all too familiar textbooks to video recordings of lectures, audio files, YouTube videos and everything in between, teachers can store and organise all types of learning materials, give access to students and track their behaviour within the system. No lost documents anymore!
A cloud-based LMS allows students to go through learning materials at their own pace. Because of their different abilities and interests, students achieve mastery of concepts at different times. An LMS that supports self-paced learning offers students some degree of agency over their own learning process, thus meeting the needs of both high achievers and those who simply need more time to understand a lesson.
Teachers can also use such resources to increase engagement rates with gamification. Gathering points, collecting badges and getting trophies are no longer associated just with games. A little competition can go a long way during the learning process and many school LMSs include gamification elements that make it easy to design engaging online lessons.
Collaboration and communication
Face-to-face communication is not the only way to get a point across a classroom, and an LMS offers various ways of class collaboration. Students can use an LMS to ask questions when they don’t understand something, as well as offer answers and explain what they know, both among themselves and with the teacher, all when it’s most convenient for each user.
Improved student assessment
Student assessment is a core element of the teaching process to ensure that pupils are fulfilling their potential and getting the support they need in areas where they are struggling, however, teachers often lack the time and tools to make such insights. An LMS encompasses different types of assessment to make the process more efficient. It can have even a dozen different types of built-in assessments, for either summative, interim or formative assessments, thus allowing teachers to mix and match the best type for any situation. Add to this a centralised gradebook, and the teacher’s administrative workload diminishes considerably.
Analytics and reporting
Teachers can further sort student learning data into comprehensible reports. Data is powerful. Teachers can create standard or custom charts and reports of data such as assignment grades, lesson progress, missing work, class completion, and so on. Therefore they can pinpoint exactly where one student might need extra help or when others could benefit from advanced resources.
Importantly, a great learning management system should come with a set of features that supports adaptive learning so that educators can tailor their teaching as the student learns. This means that as each student progresses through their learning trajectory, the system makes personalised recommendations of what that student needs to do next: redo the learning module, check further resources take, enrol in a different learning path, etc.
There are many ways in which education technology can ease the workload of secondary school teachers, while creating a better learning experience for students. A learning management system may not be the only example, but it sure is one of the most comprehensible solutions educators can turn to. A good LMS combined with targeted professional development and other types of school and community support may contribute to a better retention of secondary school teachers.
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