Enhancing students’ academic experiences and helping them develop 21st century skills requires the right tools. At EF Academy, we have incorporated learning technology into our classrooms and lessons to support student learning and subject comprehension.
At all three of our campuses, we have faculty members who are specialized in IT and learning technology and who are responsible for the rolling out of new programs and tools in the classroom.
Smartboards, tablets, Apple TV, digital cameras, digital projectors and microscope cameras are among the technologies that teachers use in class to engage students and effectively explain subject material.
Something new at EF Academy Torbay this year is the use of “Google Apps for Education” – a cloud-based Google platform that combines online storage (Google Drive), a communication tool that facilities discussions between students and their teachers, and a sharing function that enables students and teachers to upload and download homework assignments.
Adrian Harrington, ICT teacher and Learning Technologies Coordinator at EF Academy Torbay, has been responsible for the implementation of Google Apps for Education this term.
“With technology, you need a motivation [to use it] and the motivation here is ‘how can you make this work for your class?’ All the teachers were immediately onboard,” says Mr. Harrington.
This new educational tool requires no student training and teachers can customize the platform to suit the needs of their class and subject.
“The students really love it,” says Mr. Harrington. “Because it’s already a part of their personal lives, it crossed over quite nicely to their academic and professional lives.”
Google Apps for Education works hand-in-hand with the “mobile learning” strategy that has been gaining ground at schools around the world. The idea is that students can take part in discussions, complete tasks online, upload pictures or assignments and ask questions anywhere they want as long as they have a tablet, laptop or smartphone with an internet connection, which is one reason why students have free Wi-Fi access all over our three campuses.
At EF Academy Oxford, math teachers make use of smartboards and the exceptional graphing and equation features that are a part of the software.
Some teachers encourage students to use their phones in class to answer multiple-choice questions throughout the lesson. This is done through an app and a specific class code that students receive from their teachers. This modern take on the “pop quiz” helps teachers assess the class’ level of understanding of the material or task at hand, meaning teachers can adapt the lesson in real-time according to students’ comprehension.
PowerSchool is another digital tool used by teachers and counselors throughout our schools in New York, Oxford and Torbay.
“PowerSchool is used for tracking and monitoring students’ grades and their attendance. It’s also the way we communicate back to parents in the form of teacher comments,” explains Robert Murphy, who is responsible for IT Development for EF Academy’s UK schools.
Parents and students receive login details at the beginning of the first term and they have access to the information recorded in the student’s profile 24/7.
In a world that is becoming increasingly digital and “online,” EF Academy keeps classrooms up-to-date with innovative technology so that our students have opportunities to learn in different ways while using helpful tools that increase learning potential.