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4 Different Types of Educational Technology

A student wearing his uniform while touching a screen.

When I began teaching, it was about ‘chalk ‘n talk’: me and the chalkboard; and some worksheets to go along with the subject. That was the extent of our technology.

If I wanted to point my learners to an extract from a film, they literally had to go to the movies. If I wanted to share notes, I had to write them on the board for the students to copy down.

Then came the overhead projector and life got a bit easier. The revolution in education technology has developed much further and faster.

With endless sources of information on the internet, the different aspects of educational technology make accessing it easy for both teachers and students.

The relevance of technology

Teachers rely on material that is relevant to their subjects to help their students learn. They also need to use channels to present the information and to engage the students in learning.

This takes the form of presenting information, engaging students in discussions, keeping notes and assessing how successful the learning has been. We have moved far from chalkboards and possibly an overhead projector to use technology that really expands the students’ horizons.

Educational technology

Educational technology is fundamental to the success of any teaching and learning situation. We understand it as being a combination of hardware (such as computers, DVD players or smartboards) and software (such as Google classroom, apps and interactive software) to help teaching and learning take place.

There are various apps, sources of information and online tools that give students access to information, worksheets, assignments and discussions that help them to learn and apply what they have learnt.

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Then there is the hardware that both teachers and students use to share and access information, so that the learning is effective.

Read this post to understand what different types of educational technologies are available.

1. Hardware

To make use of any software, including programmes and apps, as well as streaming or online services, you need certain pieces of hardware.

Computers

A professor with his students using computer.

The fundamental and most useful tool you need to be able to access sites or information from which you can learn is a computer: either a desktop or laptop. With a computer, you can literally use any type of software, online service, or other intangible aspect of technology from which you can learn.

Think about a computer as being an electronic device that allows you to be able to access, store and process data. You can use it to search for information.

You can also enter information onto it that is then stored. You can generate material in print or image form and use it for teaching and learning.

Tablets

A girl wearing headset while studying using tablet.

Put simply, a tablet is a small, highly portable computer. It has most of the functions of a computer, but not all the facilities. The beauty of a tablet is that it is easy to carry around and can be taken into just about any learning situation to enable students to access information and educational resources like worksheets and assignments.

Mobile phones

Two children doing assignment using mobile phone and a laptop.

These days, just about everyone has a mobile. In fact, the technology in a smart phone rivals that of a tablet, or even a computer. You can access the vast store of information on the internet via your mobile. You can take and share images, videos, podcasts and music.

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There are facilities on a smart phone that allow you to keep notes of what is being learned, or to generate worksheets from which a student can learn. You can also get onto educational or meeting services via your mobile. In fact, it is a very useful piece of technology for education.

Electronic whiteboards

An electronic whiteboard or interactive smartboard is the new generation of chalkboard in the classroom. It is an electronic device that combines the idea of a computer with a digital projector.

What the computer produces or sees appears on the whiteboard and the teacher can interact with it by using a finger or something like a stylus.

Data projector

A man discussing something to his students using data projector.

To project is to take an image and cast it onto a screen of some sort. A data projector is a device that projects data onto a screen. It is most often linked to a computer to show whatever is on the computer onto a screen. You can also feed data into the projector via a USB stick, a DVD player and a smartphone.

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CD player

A CD player may be a little outdated with streaming services so easily accessible, but it is also a basic piece of technology that most educational institutions will be able to afford. Quite simply, it is an electronic device that takes the voice or music burned onto a CD and plays it through speakers.

DVD player

A DVD player is similar to a CD player, but the discs that are fed into it contain sound as well as pictures. Once again, this is an older piece of educational technology, but it is also quite affordable and easily usable in any educational institution.

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USB flashdrive

If you want to get information from your computer onto another computer, or digital projector, you need a device on which you can store the data and then literally take it to the other device. This is what a USB flashdrive is. It is not only portable, but you can delete or overwrite the information on it.

2. Virtual learning and meeting spaces

If you want to set up a learning situation online, you need a meeting space or service that will facilitate this.

Google classroom

Google classroom app download on google playstore.

If you want to set up a teaching and learning situation online, then Google classroom is the type of service you will need.

It offers a set of online tools that allow you to put information online, design and publish assessments, and where the students can submit work. You can also mark and grade assignments online via Google classroom.

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Zoom

Zoom is a video chat app that allows you to bring people from a whole lot of different locations together online. The participants can be anywhere around the town, country or even the world.

As an educational situation, a Zoom call needs a facilitator or teacher to lead the class and the other participants will be the students who learn by listening, watching and sharing in the discussions.

Microsoft Teams

Another online service that can be used for virtual teaching is Microsoft Teams. This is an app that allows a teacher to set up a team meeting that will involve students in a virtual learning situation.

The teacher can share their screen to present educational materials and the students can respond by discussing the points, or writing on the chat.

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Google meet

A google generated app use for virtual classes or online interactions.

Google meet is another online video conferencing and meeting service that can be used to set up a teaching and learning situation. Set a date and time for the meeting, then send the invitation to students, so they can join the class.

3. Streaming sites

With so much music and video material out there, it is natural that online streaming sites have become popular amongst just about everyone. They are also great resources for teaching and learning.

Youtube

Youtube app shown in a laptop, for steaming videos and entertainment.

Anyone can upload any audio or video recording onto Youtube and anyone can access any video  or audio recording from Youtube. The opportunities for using this streaming site for education are just about endless.

Drama teachers can find and show their students excerpts from productions of setworks. Maths teachers can send their students video recordings of lessons or problem solving. And so it goes.

Netflix

Netflix is just one of the available streaming sites for films and television series. From fictional movies to reality shows to documentaries, there are many opportunities for learning.

An English teacher can choose a film version of a setwork to help the students explore the content, themes and characters in the book. A history teacher can screen an episode of a series on a historical era or event.

Spotify

A phone with a spotify app and an ipods in a wooden table.

If you want to use a service that allows teachers and students to listen to podcasts and digital music, then you need a streaming service. Spotify is one of these services. The podcasts can be used to inform the students, or begin a discussion. A song or piece of music can be used to illustrate a point or aspect of a subject.

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Online learning platforms

It is all very well for teachers to create programmes, but if they cannot get them to their students, no learning can take place. This is where learning platforms are essential. These are some of the available platforms.

Udemy

If you are a teacher who has a passion for a particular subject, you can develop a course online and get it out to potential students via Udemy. This is an online platform on which teachers can post their courses and where students can find subjects they want to learn about. Udemy has tools that can help you develop the course. You can also upload presentations, videos, audio and information files.

Coursera

Coursera used for eduational learning on a mobile phone.

Coursera is an elearning platform that offers educational courses on different subjects. You can even study for a degree through the platform. The Coursera app lets the teachers upload courses, including films, videos and other sources of information. Students can then download the course material, so they can study at their leisure offline.

EdX

edX is the online learning platform for executive education. On edX, you can study a diploma or degree. The lecture material is uploaded by the teachers and facilitators, which is then accessed online by the students. The educational resources can be in the form of videos, PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, audio recordings and other forms of information.

Moodle

An educational app used for making learning materials and quizzes.

Moodle is a highly effective learning system that can help a teacher design, produce and manage learning materials online. It is the ultimate site for teachers to ensure that there is valuable and rich educational material available for virtual students.

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4. Sources of information

Teaching and learning can only take place if there is information which can be shared, discussed and worked with. There are many sources of information out there, but it is those that are on the cloud that are best accessed using educational technology.

The internet

The world wide web is the ultimate source of information for anyone, especially students. The internet is where they will find resources which can be used in just about any learning situation.

Blogs

A woman filming an educational blog for her students.

A blog is either part of a website or a site on its own that allows an individual to share ideas and views on different topics online. There are dedicated educational blogs and those that contain useful information for students.

Websites

When web pages dealing with an aspect of learning are combined online and made available, an educational website has been established. There are usually hyperlinks from one website to others, perhaps that offer worksheets or assessments related to the topic, subject or area.

In this way, a network of webpages is created to help students access information and to assess their understanding of the material.

TED Talks

A woman guest on a famous educational entertainment called TED's talk.

There are many experts who share their ideas, experiences, views and stories with both live and virtual audiences. These TED talks are recorded and available as videos online, which are a great and often inspirational source of information for students of all ages.

Discussion boards

One aspect of learning that is important for students is to listen to each other, share their views and ideas and to respond to those of their classmates, or colleagues. The teacher can post topics, documents or other forms of information for their students and the students can respond to these, thus beginning a discussion.

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FAQs

Why is technology so important for education?”

Teaching and learning is based on exposing students to information and interaction between the teachers and students. This can be facilitated by the use of technology, especially when they are pursuing virtual courses. Hardware elements are necessary for students to access information that is online and to run online platforms, where discussions take place.

Where do students get most of their information from?

You will find that a lot of students still use books for studying, especially classical works. However, so much information is available on the cloud via the internet and students can access it so easily that this is where they get most of their information from.

What is the most important form of educational technology hardware?

The most important piece of hardware technology for education is a computer. It is the one item of equipment that allows both teachers and learners to access information, online courses and teaching and discussion platforms.