There is a wide range of online teaching tools available to teachers across the K-12 spectrum. Regardless of subject or grade, teachers can easily and cost-effectively boost student engagement by leveraging these tools to provide variety and value to students. Here we take a look at five of the best online tools for teaching that improve student engagement.
ClassDojo is a tool that often comes to mind when teachers are asked for their favorite teaching tools to engage students online—and manage their behavior. It is a free classroom communication and community-building tool. It allows teachers to provide real-time feedback to students and to reward good behavior through points. Information collected through ClassDojo can also be easily shared with parents and administrators to help keep them apprised of student performance.
Using ClassDojo as an example of online teaching tools helps teachers provide instant appreciation to students for their good behavior, says Jessica Robinson with The Speaking Polymath. For example, she says: “Teachers can send real-time notifications to students like, ‘Good work, Alexa!’” The record gets stored and is available to share with parents during parent-teacher conferences.
To get the most out of ClassDojo she recommends:
- Giving points to students frequently. “This will help them keep the students motivated and inspired to perform well in the class consistently.”
- Setting up a maximum limit for points. “This is an important thing to do,” Robinson says. “If teachers don’t reset the students’ points to zero at fixed intervals of time, the point gap between students may become too large.” This, she says, could be demotivating for some students.
Teachers can be challenged to provide timely and effective feedback to students in the virtual classroom environment. ClassDojo can help.
Kahoot is another favorite online teaching tool for student engagement. With Kahoot, teachers can create games and questionnaires for students, providing an effective way to not only maintain student’s attention but to close out lessons in a virtual learning environment. Teachers may also choose to incorporate an element of competition by having students compete against each other for the best scores.
Robinson suggests some ways to use Kahoot most effectively:
- Use ghost mode. In ghost mode, students have the opportunity to play the game again after the session has been closed. They play against “ghosts”—computer players. It allows students to play the game again and again to improve their performance. “As a result, their basics will get significantly improved,” says Robinson.
- Have students create their own Kahoots. This, says Robinson, can be one of the most effective ways to use the tool. By creating their own Kahoots, she says, “students can help them broaden their thought process, create their own questions and understand concepts better.”
Writing for eLearning Industry, Ashutosh Chauhan says: “Kahoot! promotes game-based learning, which increases student engagement and creates a dynamic, social and fun educational environment.”
“When I work with students, both in-person and online, I frequently assign homework involving Khan Academy and online review games that I’ve made on Kahoot and Quizizz,” says Ana Moss, the founder of Mind the Test.
3. Khan Academy
Khan Academy was an early entrant to the world of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Founded by Sal Khan, in 2006, it is a nonprofit organization that offers free online courses, primarily focused on content for students in the US. Its goal: “to provide a world-class education for anyone, anywhere.
In addition, Moss points out that Khan Academy is the official partner of the SAT and students can take eight free full-length practice tests on Khan Academy’s website. She recommends printing out a paper practice test a few times before taking the actual test. “Analyzing results and figuring out what to improve only requires a student’s brain,” says Moss. “In fact, the Khan Academy answer explanations for math are particularly helpful, both explaining how to do the problem and stating what subtopic the student needs to study.”
TED-Ed is TED’s “youth and education initiative,” designed to “spark and celebrate the ideas and knowledge-sharing of teachers and students around the world. It is a rich resource of video content and, says Robinson, “one of the best online tools for K-12 students.” With TED-Ed, she says, teachers can “create animated video lessons, interactive lesson plans and enable students to learn multifarious things from TED-Ed’s community of 250,000 teachers. Robinson recommends using TED-Ed to:
- Create watch lists for students to expand their knowledge by exposing them to multiple educational resources.
- Customizing existing lessons on the platform to add additional relevant information, resources and discussion questions specific to your students.
- Introduce students to a topic through short videos, making it easier for students to understand the content in longer videos.
The platform makes it easy for users to find and select any TED Talk, TED-Ed lesson or video and create customized lesson plans with questions and discussion prompts. It is a rich resource of relevant and timely content for virtual learning.
Class is an online teaching tool built on the Zoom Meetings platform and offers educators everything they need to facilitate instruction and improve student engagement in the virtual classroom. The software adds teaching and learning tools to Zoom, allowing educators to perform many of the activities that happen in a real classroom, virtually and in hybrid settings. Key software features help teachers take attendance, track participation, arrange seating charts, hand out assignments and quizzes, grade work, proctor exams, talk one-on-one with students and more. Class provides a solid foundation and flexible platform for teachers to use to easily augment their online courses through tools like the top five we have covered here.
“Thanks to video calls, amazing resources like Khan Academy, online practice tests, e-books, and digital review games, the entire learning process can be done digitally–from test prep to language arts to history,” says Moss. It is a rich environment with many useful, practical, online teaching tools that are often little or no cost.
What go-to K-12 teaching tools have you added to your Class environment?