How Educational Technology Fosters Innovative Teaching

Writing on a board

Technology, especially in recent years, has had huge impacts on everyone.  These effects essentially have transformed every single person’s life around the globe.

Think about your smartphone. You’re probably using it right now. And if you aren’t using your smartphone, chances are your phone is within arm’s reach. Can you remember what your life was like before you had a smartphone? Do you remember when you got your first smartphone? Smartphones and other smart devices are basically integral to function in today’s society and the smartphone isn’t even that new of a device.

Quick question. When was the first iPhone released?

first iPhone

Pictured: Ancient communication device.

It was in 2007. Over ten years ago.

Ten years is a short time in human history, but ten years of using smart devices feels like decades. Moore’s Law essentially says that advances in technology are exponential. Can you imagine how your daily life will be affected by technology in ten years from now?

Most likely, you can’t.

Anyway, the point is that recent advances in technology have drastically changed everyone’s lives. And because technology is increasingly being used inside the classroom, technology has also, and will continue to have, had large impacts on education.

How does Educational Technology Foster Innovative Teaching?

Innovative teaching isn’t easy. It requires creativity, training, and educators with caring attitudes. Creativity helps educators determine new ways to teach students and keep them engaged. Teacher training is required for not only for using the specific technology tools, but teachers must also be trained in how to create innovating teaching solutions. Finally, educators need to care about teaching students and finding new ways to teach them.

Although creativity, training, and a caring attitude are requirements for innovative teaching, they are not the only factors that help teachers develop new ways to teach students.

Educational technology is like using cinnamon in a recipe. 

Sure, you can make a great dish without cinnamon. A great chef can make many dishes with very few ingredients. As long as a great chef has some staple ingredients, he can whip up a tasty meal quickly and easily. Some diners may enjoy cinnamon on all kinds of dishes. Contrarily, some people just may not like cinnamon at all.

swidish chef gif

That’s to say, teachers don’t need technology to be innovative. Teachers have been teaching for centuries without technology. But educational technology is a great tool that teachers can use in and outside of the classroom. Actually, I’d bet that every single teacher uses some sort of technology.

Yes even music and P.E. teachers.

So what kind of technology does every teacher use?

Well, pretty much all teachers have to use a word processor. And in nine times out of ten, that’s Microsoft Office. Google Drive and related apps are becoming used even more frequently nowadays, but the point is every teacher has to use some sort of technology even if it doesn’t seem obvious.

Besides music classes, I can’t recall a single class that I took in undergraduate school or graduate school that didn’t use technology in the classroom. Most of the time the technology that was used in class was PowerPoint or Google Chrome. Sadly, many classes also used Internet Explorer.

These technologies undoubtedly changed the way teachers teach. But how? Let ‘s look.

How has technology changed the way teachers teach?

I’ve mentioned that PowerPoint, Word, and Chrome have been frequently used in the classes I’ve taken. They’re actually the most used tools that I use while teaching classes, too. But how have these tools really changed how teachers teach in the classroom?

The most obvious way that comes to mind is the way images and videos are used in class. Educational technology has caused teachers to use more visual aids. Not all teachers use visual aids, but in my experience many do.

These visual aids are usually in the form of images on a PowerPoint.

The use of visual aids can help learners better understand visual concepts such as relationships between different items.

fire triangle

Previously, the most popular model of instruction was where the teacher lectured about a topic while students listened, wrote notes, and later took an exam that required the student to regurgitate the information that they acquired during the class and assigned readings.

Many people that have a negative view of formal educational institutions still believe this is the predominant way of teaching that occurs in school these days. Some teachers with more traditional mindsets may still have the idea that the students role in an education setting is similar to a sponge and the teacher is a spigot in which knowledge freely flows.


Typical student

However, most teachers no longer prescribe to that model of teaching. And I think new technology, particularity the internet and its vast sea of freely available information is one of the big reasons for that change.

After all, why go to school and listen to a teacher if you can get the same information for free online? Information that is not only free, but information that may even be more relevant to the students’ interests.

How has education changed the role of the teacher?

Frequently, the teachers role is different from what it used to be.

Now, with using technology in education, the teacher’s role is often a monitor or facilitator, not a knowledge giver. That is, this student-centered learning approach often allows students to use technology to work with each other while the teacher is watches and helps along the way.

Communication has drastically changed

Technology helps teachers conduct collaborative learning that can happen asynchronously or synchronously. This alone has its own advantages and disadvantages. But technology has truly created a collaborative classroom. One of which, students can work together while inside and outside the class.

Student and teacher communication using technology is one thing that innovative teachers can use. Teachers have used current technology to create forums to allow students to communicate with each other. This allows students to share ideas. Additionally, being able to communicate electronically can help students that are too shy to speak up during class.

Having an electronic copy of student correspondence is also helpful for the teacher. When he or she is planning lessons, the teacher can go back to previous forums where students discussed a similar assignment and see where they had problems and which parts they like. In effect, the use of forums allows teachers to have constant student feedback.

Real-time collaboration

The use of technology in education has also allowed students to work on projects collaboratively in real time. Gone are the days of emailing files back and forth. We’ve all had an experience where someone starts working on an older version of a project and work needs to be redone.

However, some students and professionals still work this way…

Tools like Google Drive and its corresponding suite of products mirroring those of Microsoft Office, allow students to work on the same document at the same time. Students can instantly see what their peers are working on. Teachers can even look at revision history to see how much each student contributed.

Technology has become smaller and mobile

Many of us remember the days of middle and high school when the “TV cart” was rolled into the classroom. All of the students, at least me, were always excited to hear that cart with the squeaky wheels come in.

It meant two things:

  1. We got a break from the teacher for at least a little while

Every day this happened was the best day.

The best part about school.

Using televisions and other technology can still have the same effect on students. However, the technology is much more accessible. Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets allow a teacher to “wheel in the cart” every single day.

Technology is ubiquitous

Modern technology has also reduced the barriers of using technology in the classroom. Sure, there are many students and teachers that may have difficulties using some technologies, but for the most part, technology has become so ubiquitous, that little training, if any, is needed before it can be used in an educational capacity.

In my science classes in university, we had multiple choice tests during class. In order to take these quizzes, every student had to use a device that we called a “clicker.”


Setting these things up so it has the correct student and class information took a little time. And every student had to spend around $45 dollars to rent one for the semester.

They were awful.

Maybe there was a specific reason that clickers had to be used in the science classes I took, but all of the functions that the clickers had could have been used with a regular smartphone. Actually, any phone with texting ability could be used to pretty much do the same thing as the clickers did.

Does educational technology always lead to innovative teaching?

Can all carpenters build beautiful pieces of architecture? Technology in education is just like any other tool. The tool alone won’t make a regular teacher into an innovative teacher. However, an eager teacher with the willingness to create new innovative ways to teach students can become an innovative teacher even without the use of technology.

Technology just helps.


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