The pandemic forced schools to suddenly shift into high gear with technology. Districts purchased thousands of devices, and educators rolled out new teaching methods on the fly.
In fact, more than two-thirds of educators say their use of technology has “increased a lot” since the start of the pandemic, according to a survey of 888 teachers, principals, and district leaders conducted by the EdWeek Research Center from Jan. 26 to Feb. 7. Online quizzes have become an especially popular tool, with 69 percent of educators surveyed saying they—or the teachers in their school or district—use them almost daily.
Online quizzes are especially helpful because they usually don’t “eat up class time,” said Todd Ostrander, the district technology coordinator for the Richland school district in Wisconsin. “It allows them to focus on curriculum and then quiz outside the classroom.”
Another 63 percent said the same about tools or software to craft presentations, while 58 percent say they often offer videos of their lessons. Also becoming more prominent: software for remedial lessons to help students catch up, programs that help personalize learning for kids, software that accelerates learning, learning-management systems (such as Schoology or Google Classroom), and video-conferencing platforms (think Zoom or Microsoft Teams).
Carlisle Haskovec, a special education teacher at Brooks High School in Killen, Ala., said she wasn’t aware of Google Meet before the pandemic. But now she uses the video-conferencing platform to help students with assignments outside school hours. She likes that she can share her screen and go over their questions in more depth than she would be able to over the phone or via email.
Videoconferencing has also become a key tool for Haskovec’s colleague, Lisa McDougal, also a special education teacher. She’s used it to get together with parents and other educators to review individualized education programs. The software makes it easier for more people to participate in those meetings, she said, since it can be tough to line up schedules so everyone can make it to the school building.
In Texas’ Childress school district, a rural system on the Oklahoma border, teachers are still using a tool called “Screencastify” to post their lessons every day. That way, students who were absent—or may need to go over a tricky concept—can benefit from on-demand access to the lessons, said Sarah Mills, who holds several leadership roles in the district, including curriculum director.
It’s been a boon for Mills’ own daughter, a freshman at the district’s high school who plays multiple sports and participates in drama and other activities.
That means a lot of missed classes, Mills said. But because most teachers are now offering their lessons on video, putting materials in Google Classroom, or both, “she doesn’t have to miss instruction,” Mills said.