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Why digital learning tools should be an essential part of classroom teaching

Ginelle Testa
Teaching with Labster
September 26, 2022

As an instructor, you’re likely asking yourself what the role of technology in the classroom is now that Covid has settled and life has returned to a new normal of in-person teaching. You may have mixed feelings about using digital tools after the challenges of teaching during the pandemic and wonder why education technology, and science simulations, in particular, are worth a permanent place in your classroom. 

Teaching is moving more toward a hybrid approach that combines in-person learning with web-based, online components. Edtech tools such as video conferencing, learning management systems, and gamified learning make hybrid teaching easier. Many universities and colleges are moving toward having some sort of online component, even while maintaining in-person learning (1).

The evolution of education technology has fostered encouraging changes in the in-person and hybrid classroom such as:

  • Making lectures more accessible through asynchronous learning

  • Allowing instructors to offer various course delivery formats for learners

  • Expanding opportunities for practice/mastery learning

  • Making learning more fun and engaging!

Ways edtech can positively influence your classroom

Making lectures more accessible through asynchronous learning

The number one benefit of asynchronous learning is flexibility. Students are able to watch and rewatch lectures or do activities like virtual labs in their own time. They have the choice about when and where they want to learn, which leads to the next point: pacing. 

Lessons that may take one learner an hour to complete may take another learner days. Having lessons on an online platform, even when you also teach them in person, gives learners the opportunity to pace themselves.

Many of the teachers who use Labster simulations like to offer asynchronous lessons to give students the chance to accommodate their busy lives. Matthew Kirkham at Karolinska Institutet is one of them.

Quote about asynchronous learning

Allowing instructors to offer various course delivery formats for learners

There are so many formats instructors can deliver learning content to students, but this is difficult without the help of edtech tools as there’s only one of you! Today’s students get tired of hearing information delivered in the same format over and over again. Lectures are still valuable, but students retain more knowledge when lectures are mixed with other activities like gamified learning. Research shows that gamified learning tools improve students' ability to understand and recall learning (2). Edtech tools encourage students to learn through video, podcasts, simulations, and so much more. Further, professors can track individual progress using an integrated LMS or within the edtech tool itself. 

Labster integrates seamlessly with LMS so there’s no stress about importing grades! Further, we’re a web-based teaching platform that offers so much more than just virtual labs. We have theory pages, quiz questions, 3D animations, and lab manuals that allow you to vary the delivery format. 

Expanding opportunities for mastery learning

Students can reinforce their learning with edtech and hybrid modalities. Mastery learning is growing in popularity because students can learn at their own pace and practice along the way. Edtech tools allow learners to access a variety of materials so that they can fill in gaps or get ahead. For example, one student may need to play a simulation twice to understand it and another student may need to do additional research to round out their learning. It all depends on the learner. With even the best teacher, it’s challenging to provide this individualized support for each student, so edtech can make it easier. 

Labster virtual labs encourage science learners to go at their own pace and build the foundation of their knowledge one brick at a time, all while equipping teachers with the tools to identify and remedy those gaps. How does Labster do this? We do it through the mastery learning model: doing formative assessments, giving teachers opportunities to address learning gaps, and offering enrichment activities.

Making learning more fun!

Let’s face it, students love technology. It’s nearly impossible to unglue them from their devices. Giving them an opportunity to use technology to learn can open up a whole new world of possibilities. 

There are two main components of how edtech makes learning more fun:

1. Edtech encourages collaboration

The ability to collaborate is necessary for students as they think about future education and a career. Not only is it necessary, but it can be fun. They can work together using edtech tools such as Labster, where students can tackle virtual labs, write lab reports post-simulation, or address quiz questions together.

2. Edtech allows students to enjoy gamification 

Gamified ed tech tools allow students to play in environments conducive to learning, motivating and exciting them along the way. According to research, games can motivate students to take risks, which makes them likely to engage with the teachings (3).

Labster supports course instruction by using some of the elements of games to help engage students in deeper learning. Labster is not a stereotypical learning game, nor is it “edutainment.” We use gamified learning in a different way. Labster’s virtual labs apply some of the extrinsic motivators of game-based elements while keeping the student’s focus on learning the content.

Gamification quote

Making lessons accessible to all learners

Ed tech tools and virtual labs aren’t just for online learning - they can be used in person and in hybrid teaching modalities. There are many benefits, including more you can discover for yourself when you try Labster for free. Contact us for an All-Access Pass to explore our entire catalog of virtual lab simulations for 30 days!  

Sources:

(1) Hesse, L. (2017). The effects of blended learning on K-12th grade students.The University of Northern Iowa.Retrieved from: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1116&context=grp

(2) Putz, L. M., Hofbauer, F., & Treiblmaier, H. (2020). Can gamification help to improve education? Findings from a longitudinal study. Computers in Human Behavior, 110, 106392.

(3) Plass, J. L., Homer, B. D., & Kinzer, C. K. (2015). Foundations of game-based learning. Educational Psychologist, 50(4), 258-283. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1090277.pdf

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