The days when students sat at their desks and listened (or didn’t listen) as teachers gave them instruction are long gone. A host of technology tools have helped teachers change their classrooms to involve more interaction and hands-on experiences for students.
Digital innovation has become a necessity. As pointed out by Forbes, an educational system in the United States once known for being slow to change has made great leaps forward in how they teach students.
Forbes writes, “Educators from all grade levels are coming to realize the benefits of technology in the classroom.”
Educators from all grade levels are also realizing the benefits of entering online professional development courses to better prepare them for this new reality in the classroom. Some focus on topics such as individual software programs or STEM, while others allow teachers to earn a Digital Innovator Certificate.
Students and Technology
Whatever your opinion about technology, particularly communication technology, it's clear it is here to stay. Where just over a decade ago, no one had a smartphone, now there are 2.7 billion smartphone users around the world.
That alone is reason enough to incorporate digital innovation in the classroom. With the power of a computer in their hands, people have access to information and communication far beyond anything in human history - even human history just last century!
Teaching students to use these tools, which can be helpful or hurtful like any other tool, is important. For early learners, the U.S. Department of Education has adopted four guiding principles:
- Technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning.
- Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.
- Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators and children.
- Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact with young children.
How Digital Innovation Helps Kids Learn
Used correctly, digital innovation is a kind of “force multiplier” for educators. Rather than having a teacher as the sole source of information for everyone, students can use online tutorials and websites to augment what they learn from the teacher. This also allows for more one-on-one, personal education. Students can delve deeper into a topic on their own, under the guidance of teachers.
Digital innovation also has allowed communication through many different platforms. Educational tech tools foster that kind of collaboration and teamwork on projects between students, allowing them to (for example) create visual presentations through an online platform.
And while this isn’t in the classroom, it’s important to note that technology also helps parents keep better track of their kids’ academic progress by going through online tools.
Learning to Become A Digital Innovator
Teachers who enter a digital innovator professional development program come into the class with many different levels of experience. The graduate-level courses at Fresno Pacific University are designed to “meet students where they are” and provide them the training they need to get to the next level of digital innovation.
The course focuses on preparing teachers to become certified as a Google Educator Level 1. This requires spending time learning how to work within Google Classroom and making use of Google Apps for Education.
There are five required courses to earn the Digital Innovator certificate:
- Introduction to Digital Innovator
- Innovative Pedagogies
- Google/YouTube in the Classroom
- Mobile Learning
- Innovative Education Project
Teachers also must choose at least one unit from a list of elective courses. They include Differentiate with Technology and Coding in the Classroom, as well as courses that focus on individual technologies such as Moodle, Makerspace and Kahoot!
Instructors also bring experience and expertise to the course. They include Apple Distinguished Educators, Google Certified Innovators and veteran CUE Rock Star Faculty members. Becoming a digital innovator in the classroom can improve the job teachers do with students. It’s also a wonderful way to prepare students for the use of technology not only in their future academic career but also in the working world.