Saturday, May 30, 2020

A For Effort

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By Isabella Liu | I am educated in Canada and have been working abroad since I graduated from the University of Toronto. As a science educator, I aim to create a sense of wonder in the world amongst my students. I am a firm believer that for students to make sense of what they are learning, teachers need to get down to their level.


I think the rise of educational technologies is great, as it encourages teachers to be more innovating in understanding the latest technological trends and how it could be applied in education. Students nowadays are digital natives, so it is my responsibility to familiarize myself with tools and technologies that my students see every day.


“Students nowadays are digital natives, so it is my responsibility to familiarize myself with tools and technologies that my students see every day.”


Edtech helps me teach science in a more student-centered manner: my students can also connect with different classrooms around the world for a truly global classroom using the internet, and they can create and design different experiments before using actual chemicals with simulations.


Technology also allows for interdisciplinary projects to be formed easily. For example, students can create their sustainable ecosystem by applying science and humanities concepts, or they can design their auto-watering system by using technology and science concepts.


As for trends, there is a huge increase in design technologies for students to go through the design-thinking cycle. That can come in many forms, whether it’s for students to design an app, a game, or to have them create something physical like a robot to go through an obstacle course. All of these encourage students to think outside the box and apply what they are learning in school.


Regarding downsides, it always feels like a competition between products with zero integration. Google has a massive platform for education, and our school uses it for students to have access to course materials and for teachers to collect assignments. We also use Turnitin to check for plagiarism in our students’ work. However, since there is no integration between the two, so students have to submit their homework on two separate platforms–once for hand-in purposes and once for plagiarism check. Cases like this can make teachers feel like it’s a waste of time rather than a convenience.


Since it is a relatively new field, I feel many companies want to capitalize on edtech. The problem with teachers isn’t the fact that we don’t want to innovate, it is because we don’t have the time. I spend a lot of my personal time troubleshooting new technologies to see how applicable it is for my students. Often, these products don’t have a trial period, it’s very much a “you have to buy it before you try it” kind of deal, so it’s difficult to justify the cost if you don’t exactly know what it does.


I hope to see more collaboration between teachers using different edtech products going forward. There are just so many emerging edtech apps, how can educators come together and share resources? Twitter is an excellent platform for teachers to connect asynchronously, so I’d like to see more of that collaboration going on across multiple platforms.

About the Author

Isabella is a Canadian secondary science and mathematics teacher. She teaches the Science Middle Years Program and the Chemistry Diploma Program under the International Baccalaureate curriculum in Hong Kong. Isabella is passionate about inspiring young minds through integrative thinking, implementing tech- nology, and hands-on inquiry tasks.

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