Educator Reflection Tips

Educator Reflection Tip #71: Which Digital Platforms are best?

Technology will never replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers, is transformational.

~George Couros

In March 2019, many schools across the country were forced to quickly move to online platforms to conduct instruction during the sudden closure of schools. As this took place, if you are like me you quickly realized that they were not as tech savvy as you thought and soon learned that there was no shortage of digital platforms to choose from. As schools worked to quickly move instruction online, educators were often left with the autonomy to choose whichever platforms they thought were best for their classrooms. As the Coronavirus pandemic progresses, it has become apparent that Blended Learning and/or remote learning will now become an increasingly important aspect of teaching, teachers and school leaders are reflecting and making plans to be more strategic and consider carefully which platforms to implement permanently.

Photo Credit: Free Photos from Pixabay

As you consider the technology that you will integrate into instruction, consider this scenario:  Mrs. Jones has three children. The school district where she resides has just announced that students will attend school remotely for the first semester of the new school year. She remembers how chaotic life was for her during the emergency school closures in the Spring and is dreading the new school year. Each of her children’s teachers provided online resources which required her to help them navigate no less than three digital platforms each. This consumed her mornings and she cannot imagine having to navigate all of those platforms again over the next hundred days and manage her own duties for work.

Parents are amazing and few complained about handling the remote learning experience in the Spring, but it is imperative that we plan to minimize the number of platforms so parents and students will be able to navigate them successfully. This Reflection Tip will not involve the promotion of specific platforms. The goal is to make suggestions for educators to consider as individual teacher, schools, and districts search for a digital platform to incorporate into current instructional practices. 

Things to consider when selecting digital platforms: 

  1. Will the platform be used uniformly by all teachers on your team and/or at your school?
  2. Does the platform offer multiple uses (i.e. video chatting capabilities, student work uploading, chat, have an announcement section, break-out rooms, parent access, etc.)?
  3. Is there a limit to the number of participants?
  4. Is there a fee attached?
  5. Has your district adopted a uniform platform? If so, is the digital platform that you are considering compatible with this platform? 
  6. Is it secure? The last thing you want is for someone to hack into your class discussion with students. Two sessions that I attended virtually over the past few months were hacked. Both times someone began writing racial slurs all over the presenter’s screen. It was very disheartening. I would hate for any child to experience this.
  7. Is the platform compatible with smartphones/iPhones? You never know if technology will work each day.
  8. What will your process for training parents look like?

Stop, Read, Think, and Write: Have you been researching the plethora of digital tools/platforms that you could integrate into your lessons to keep students engaged virtually? The Principal Tribe has created a tool that could help you with 15 of the most widely used online platforms. Click on the link to and read and explore three resource that might be applicable to your classroom instructions and students.    Link to the article: 15 Tools for Distance Learning

Thanks for visiting this week’s edition of Educator Reflection Tips. As always, I have included a few more resources just in case you would like to take a deeper dive into other digital platforms.

If you would like to purchase a digital download of the tool to use as you narrow down platforms to use in your classroom, it is available for $1.99 at the following link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Educator-Reflection-Tip-71-Choosing-a-Digital-Platform-5883113

Reference/Resources:

Edunation: Choosing a Digital Platform: https://www.edu-nation.net/how-to-choose-the-best-online-teaching-platform/

Student Collaboration Platforms: https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/best-student-collaboration-tools

Digital Tools to Support Classroom Formative Assessment: https://www.nwea.org/blog/2019/75-digital-tools-apps-teachers-use-to-support-classroom-formative-assessment/

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