Technology has had an increasing impact on the education sector in the last decade. However, COVID-19 revealed the importance of technology in the classrooms. School closures and quarantines forced districts to implement virtual learning and hybrid models. Unfortunately, not all virtual learning is equal. Poor models and practices lead to frustrated teachers, disengaged students, and a general decline. Yet, when done right, education technology, commonly referred to as EdTech, can improve learning and teaching.
Below, we offer a broad explanation of EdTech and some examples, followed by a case study of Outline. Outline is a writing platform that makes writing easier, more organized, more engaging, and more interactive for students and teachers alike.
What Is EdTech and Why Is It Important?
If you haven't thought much about EdTech, the easiest way to describe it is as technological tools that enhance education. The idea of "enhancement" can mean different things in different school districts and areas of the nation and world, but typically include the promotion of education, increased access, and improved learning.
Not only has EdTech become more important, but it's here to stay. The Ed Tech industry was valued at over $100 billion in 2021. Experts predict that the industry will grow more than 15 percent each year through 2030. This is in large part because research shows that students who have access to devices and high-speed internet perform better than those without access to technology. Examples of technology that the EdTech industry is utilizing include:
- Artificial intelligence
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- Wireless technology
Many companies are also using one or more of the above tools to create game-based learning programs.
Outline Uses EdTech to Make Writing More Interactive
When you think of online learning or technology, writing is likely not the first thing that comes to mind. However, writing is a key part of education whether students are attending a brick-and-mortar school, learning at home, or some combination of the two. Outline is a writing platform that helps students develop and organize their through and leads them through the process of writing a cogent and succinct essay, which benefits students and teachers alike. Outline makes writing more interactive in several ways in varied learning environments:
Outline Connects Hybrid Classrooms
Students can work on essays regardless of their location as long as they have a device and internet access. Teachers can monitor each account to see whether students are active or inactive. Teachers can also see when a student has last logged in and monitor progress. Some students do not work as well independently as others, which can problematic when students are forced to work at home because of illness. Outline provides a way for teachers to offer encouragement and check in with students when they aren't working on their essays, keeping teachers and students connected when they are not in the same space.
Outline Engages Students to Work More Effectively
Even when teachers offer steps or a process to follow for writing a strong essay, some students do not quite grasp what they are supposed to do. Or, they struggle with organizing and synthesizing their ideas. Using Outline engages students to follow a process that cuts out much of the wavering and jumping around they do when trying to follow traditional instructions on writing an essay. Outline's writing process includes the following steps:
Step 1: Idea Matrix. This is the main dashboard of Outline's writing platform. Students begin the writing process by completing a brainstorming exercise to come up with broad ideas for their essays.
Step 2: Selection. During this step, students sort through their ideas and choose which ones they want to highlight in their essay.
Step 3: Sequencing. Once students have ideas for their essays, they need to put them in order. The sequencing step also allows students to add more ideas, delete ideas, and group ideas. Sequencing is especially important for kinaesthetic learners—those who learn best with hands-on experience. The platform requires students to drag and drop items and move them around to order them, providing a hands-on experience that engages students.
Step 4: Structure. The final step of Outline's writing process guides students to craft brief summaries of their main points. These summaries are the genesis of an organized outline. Students connect and order their main points with transition words to create a cohesive narrative.
Outline Makes Grading Easier
Once a student complete Outline's writing process, they have the opportunity to check their essay with the platform's Interactive Rubric Check. This interactive feature helps students turn in higher quality work, making it much easier and faster for teachers to grade essays. Students upload their essays to the checker, which checks the essay against rubric criteria provided by the teacher or entered by the student when they highlight the part of their essay that corresponds with the correct rubric category. As each section meets rubric criteria, the platform provides and green checkmark and awards point to the student. Each essay must have a certain number of points before students can submit it to the teacher.
Outline Helps Teachers Engage with Students
Completing grading, creating lesson plans, and planning lectures are only a few of the things that eat up a teacher's time. The organization is key for teachers to effectively juggle multiple classes and assignments. Outline provides an easy way for teachers to monitor what students are writing and their progress. This is especially important when students aren't attending class because of illness or other reasons. Additionally, teachers can customize rubrics for each class and find out if students have been active on the platform. When teachers have a better sense of how their students are doing, they can interact with them to offer help or encouragement, resulting in better student outcomes.
Learn More About Engaging Your Students with Our Interactive Writing Platform
Outline is an EdTech tool that helps students conceive, organize, and write essays. The hands-on process coupled with remaining connected with teachers who operate behind the scenes of the platform, keeps students engaged. Each element of Outline's writing process and teacher management promotes engagement, making Outline truly interactive.