In order to prepare students to become successful future global citizens, they need to engage in deeper learning. This form of education helps teach students the critical collaboration and analytical skills they will need to succeed in the future workplace and society. It goes beyond the traditional surface learning, often characterized by memorization, standardized testing and teacher lectures.
When students are actively engaged in tasks that require them to use higher-level critical thinking skills and communication and collaboration activities, it helps promote deeper learning in the classroom and successfully prepares learners for college, career, and life. It also sparks their creativity and helps build character and good citizenship. Deeper learning engages learners in diverse ways and can consist of many modalities, including inquiry-based lessons, blended learning techniques, student choice, personalized learning and collaborative activities.
Effectively incorporating technology tools such as Google G Suite, Hāpara, and other apps purposefully into classroom activities can significantly boost deeper student learning by helping learners employ higher-level skills like analyzing, applying prior knowledge, synthesizing information, designing and creating solutions. Read on to learn tips for using technology in the classroom to promote deeper learning.
1. Incorporate inquiry-based projects
Learners acquire deeper understanding when they participate in activities that allow them to investigate concepts and formulate solutions to relevant, real world issues. There are countless ways students can use technology in the classroom to complete inquiry-based projects, for instance a teacher could have students research a structure with a specific purpose, such as an amusement park, zoo, or company and then design their own building using Google Drawing. They could design a science fair project or explain a mathematical process with a Google Slideshow presentation or conduct a debate over a controversial issue either in person or through a video recorded with iMovie or a Flipgrid to explain the process. If you are wondering how to get started with inquiry-based projects visit PBL Works.
2. Have learners create digital products to demonstrate learning
Teachers can promote deeper learning by allowing students to demonstrate their understanding by creating a digital project. Some ideas include:
- Have learners develop a new app, explain how it could benefit users, and showcase the finalized project in a “gallery walk” for other students to observe, or share the ideas live or with a recorded video presentation.
- Have students use Google Drawing or Google Slides to create a visual art piece, a timeline, a map, etc.
- Have students compose an argumentative, informative essay or a narrative using Google Docs.
- Learners could create a recorded “newscast” using Google Slides as a background and iMovie to record the episode.
- Students could use voice recording tools, (with the Voice Recorder Chrome extension, Vocaroo, etc.) to create their own podcast about an assigned topic.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to having students create digital content to demonstrate their understanding. Hāpara Workspace is an excellent platform to aid in student digital creation because teachers can post “how-to” videos for students to access initially to learn the process, and afterward, they can then post their projects to the Workspace for submission and display their projects for others to view and reflect on their work.
3. Use technology tools for collaboration
Having students learn how to collaborate and complete tasks with others enhances deeper learning and helps prepare them for working with others successfully in the future. The Google G Suite tools lend themselves seamlessly to student collaboration because they allow users the opportunity to contribute and edit a shared Google Doc, Slide and Drawing, for group projects, and the teacher can even access the document in real time to make commentary and feedback. For example, if an English class is reading a novel using “literature circles,” learners could read the assigned text, and then a teacher could assign a shared Google Doc that allows all group members collaborative access. Then, each group member would work on a specific section of the document in order to complete their assigned “task”, such as summarizing the story, identifying and defining challenging vocabulary or directing a discussion.
Another way students can use technology to collaborate is by creating flashcards through Quizlet to study vocabulary and important concepts with their peers. They can also brainstorm ideas with Note.ly or Padlet, or they could peer edit essays using Google Doc comments or the “suggestion” setting.
4. Flip the classroom
A “flipped” classroom promotes deeper learning by allowing students to take agency over their education by accessing lectures and instructional content at home, and then focusing on discussing the ideas and putting that learned information to use in the classroom. For example, teachers can create lessons using Google Slideshow or Docs, and record their explanations using the Loom or Screencastify apps, then assign the lessons for students to access the assignments at home. In the following class period, students would be prepared with that knowledge, and the teacher could facilitate the learning process as students synthesize what they have learned through various projects. Hāpara Workspace is an excellent tool to aid in a flipped classroom, because it allows teachers to post videos and other teaching resources that students can access individually for review.
To create a flipped classroom lesson, a teacher can post a learning objective in a Hāpara Workspace column. For example, “I will be able to develop a model describing gravity’s role in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.” The students would then access videos, articles, and practice activities about that topic from home on the Workspace to develop their understanding. Then, during the next class meeting, students would come in with the necessary background knowledge and begin constructing their models. At the same time, the teacher can walk around the class and help students individually with the process.
5. Make learning visible
Visible learning encourages students to take ownership of their education by helping them understand their learning goals, how they can achieve them and how to measure their success. Hāpara Workspace supports visible learning by allowing students to explore content individually and collaboratively.
A teacher can post the learning objectives for a lesson or unit in one column in a Workspace. For example, in a history class, a teacher could post the objective, “I will be able to explain how global interconnections influenced early American history.” The teacher could then post learning resources such as articles, videos or practice activities to build student knowledge of the content. An educator can post a scoring rubric and project expectations in another Workspace section. As students work through the material and create their explanations, they can post their work electronically within the Workspace, helping them digitally reach their learning objectives.
6. Provide feedback in real time
Providing constructive feedback in a timely manner can help students engage in deeper learning, because it gives them a better understanding of whether they are on the right track, or that they may need to make adjustments. There are several tech tools to help teachers give immediate feedback to students. When students are working with any G Suite program, teachers can access the Doc, Sheet or Slide, and make comments in real-time. The Google Chrome extension, Mote, allows teachers to record verbal comments and suggestions to a learner’s Google Doc.
Hāpara makes providing feedback to students even easier because the Teacher Dashboard allows teachers to access all of their learners’ G Suite documents from one organized area. A teacher can quickly locate the student file they are looking for, and send immediate feedback. For example, if students are writing an argumentative essay in an English class about the issue “should schools be allowed to sell soda and junk food on campus?” a teacher can check on student progress by clicking on the tile name of the student they want to check in with in Teacher Dashboard. They can locate the student’s essay Doc, and record or type a message, such as, “You are on the right track, but how can we make our thesis statement more clear?” or “Don’t forget to include the counterargument.” Students can then read the suggested feedback and make any necessary edits to improve their writing.
7. Make learning personalized
Personalizing learning, creating equitable opportunities for learners to access content and adjusting learning activities according to student strengths and weaknesses all assist in deepening the learning experience. Hāpara Teacher Dashboard, Highlights, and Workspace allow educators to personalize the learning experience for students and differentiate instruction by creating different learning groups based on varying ability levels and student interests.
With Hāpara, a teacher can assign specific materials geared toward each learner’s needs and facilitate different student groups. For example, suppose students are studying a certain topic in a unit and are required to read and annotate an article. In that case, a teacher could help support English Language learners by assigning the same or similar type of article with a more appropriate Lexile level so every student could still access the content.
Another way to personalize learning and empower students to take ownership of their learning is to give students a voice in their experience by choosing how they want to demonstrate mastery of a studied topic, (especially when using digital tools to create a product). For example, rather than have students complete a multiple-choice test at the end of a unit, have them choose from a variety of options to demonstrate their understanding instead. This demonstration can be in writing a story or description, creating a song or performance, creating a podcast or video explanation.
8. Model effective communication
Having the ability to communicate effectively is a crucial skill learners will need to master in their future endeavors. Teachers can promote effective communication and teach appropriate email etiquette through the use of the Hāpara Dashboard. Through the Student Dashboard, learners can conveniently access their Gmail accounts to communicate with teachers and other students. In addition, educators can easily access a student’s Gmail through the Teacher Dashboard by clicking on the desired Student Tile to send communication more seamlessly.
Teachers could also implement electronic discussion boards to help learners practice expressing their ideas effectively and respond to others with programs such as Jamboard, (which allows students to post thoughts on a digital note board), and Google Question, (which is a function of Google Classroom where teachers can post a discussion prompt, and students can post responses and reply to other classmates). This platform works great for inciting discussions and debates around assigned readings.
Flipgrid is a video recording tool that can promote effective communication by allowing students the opportunity to record themselves sharing an idea, with the option of adding a video response to other learners’ posts and prompts. This is a great tool to use when students solve a problem, write an essay or create a project. Students can reflect on the process and explain their knowledge in the video recording, pushing them to think deeper about their work and understand the process of their peers by listening to their videos while also helping them develop their oral presentation skills.
9. Teach learners to use technology responsibly
With all of the technology and apps currently available to learners, it is imperative to teach students how to use technology responsibly, so it promotes deeper learning, rather than creates a diversion. Hāpara Highlights is a valuable tool that allows teachers to view a learner’s browsing habits and ensure that they are on the right track. Highlights allow a teacher to monitor what websites a student is browsing. It helps teachers provide access to useful sites and sources to guide learning and limits access to websites that may not be conducive to the targeted objectives. For example, suppose a class is completing a research project on different countries for a culture fair, and their task is to use at least three credible sources. In that case, the teacher can filter out the websites that are not academically relevant. This filtering helps push the students in the right direction by allowing learner access to the most suitable sources. As students continue working and browsing with Highlights, it helps promote productive research and online habits and digital citizenship.
10. Use technology to create community
When a student moves past passive learning and becomes an active participant and contributing member of the educational community, they gain a sense of deeper learning. By actively engaging in projects that connect them to others, students become prepared to be successful future citizens that can work with others to help solve future global issues. Creating opportunities to collaborate digitally, providing quick and constructive electronic feedback, and creating learning activities requiring students to analyze and solve relevant problems help promote a strong community. The Hāpara program helps build a strong community by allowing students to connect conveniently through the Student Dashboard and with activities posted to the Hāpara Workspace. It even allows for students to connect and communicate in other countries through email or video chats.
An example of a learning activity that could help build community could be having students research a particular issue in their neighborhood, such as pollution or health. They could reach out to other students in a different geographical location outside of their classroom through a synchronous video chat, (with an app such as Google Meets), to interview students and get a different perspective from someone else experiencing a similar issue. Students could then create a possible solution to the issue digitally (through a Slideshow, video, etc.) to present to their classmates by posting it to the Hāpara Workspace for others to see and learn from.
Try some of these strategies today to help engage your learners in deeper learning and help prepare them for a successful future!