September 16, 2021

Boosting Your Teaching with Digital Technology: A Compilation of Free and Intuitive Digital Tools

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

This article is a translation of a text first published in Profweb’s French edition.

Over the years, while teaching at a distance and in person, I have tested many digital tools with my students. I am sharing with you a listing of my favorites: free and easy-to-use digital tools. I hope this list of tools helps to make your students’ learning experience more dynamic while further developing your techno-pedagogical skills.

An inclusive approach

In their assignments, I often allow students to choose the format they feel comfortable with to produce their response. They can:

  • illustrate their point
  • irecord an audio document
  • iproduce a short video

I also try to vary the formats when I present information in class. On the course platform, whether it’s Moodle or Teams, I often give them the option of consulting a text, a video, a podcast or an infographic on the same topic.

Choosing the right digital tools for my teaching

To choose the tools in my repertoire, I use the criteria of quality proposed by Bertrand and Viens (2007, p.109)[in French]. As an example, consider the following:

  • the quality of the feedback obtained by using the tool
  • the learner autonomy it provides
  • the in-depth learning that it enables

These indicators help to confirm the added value of digital technology, i.e., its positive impact on learning. In addition, I make sure that the tools are free, intuitive and can be used on any device.

I don’t pretend to innovate every time I use technology in the classroom, but I do aim for it to have a significant impact on the course.

Make my teaching more dynamic by varying my teaching strategies

When approaching a new concept, we can choose from a range of teaching strategies.

I like the flipped classroom approach and I provide tutorials to students. However, creating a video is optional, as you can also leave a series of resources on the learning platform or provide QR codes so that students take ownership of the concept themselves.

I also like to focus on collaborative learning, so that students present some of the information they have gathered to their peers by sharing their research results in a collaborative space.

Sometimes I choose a more traditional teaching model. I present a concept myself, taking care to break it up into segments. I invite my students to participate in an interactive vote using their mobile device. In this way I can check their understanding before continuing with my explanations.

But do students appreciate these strategies and this diversity? What is their perception of digital technology and what impact does its use have on their learning? Do they expect the teacher to use digital technology frequently in the classroom? I polled my students to find out.

Do students like working with digital technology?

I surveyed the 42 students in the 3 Spanish courses that I teach at Collège Montmorency. I provided them with a questionnaire that they filled out anonymously on SurveyMonkey. They were asked what tools they would recommend to a friend.

Of the tools used throughout the course, the game-based questionnaires received the highest number of responses.

Another popular resource for language students is the Linguee Dictionary, which is available as a free downloadable application on the mobile phone.

It also seems that students believe Quizlet is very effective to prepare for an evaluation. Indeed, they particularly liked the exercises I created with this interactive list platform.

In addition, the responses indicate that they see an advantage in using the mobile phone to search for information in class or to record themselves.

Finally, we should mention:

  • Google forms to complete assignments
  • tools to collaborate on the same document in real time
  • creating posters.

Which of the technologies used in the Spanish course would you recommend to a friend?

Overall, while most of the students surveyed like working with digital tools in the classroom (in 85.7% of cases), the most frequently recurring positive comments refer to 6 specific aspects

  • the ease with which the tools can be used
  • the liveliness that the tools bring to the course
  • the participative nature of the proposed activities
  • the novelty of the activities breaks the routine throughout the course
  • the entertainment value of the activities
  • the eco-friendly nature of the tools

In general, do you like working with technology in the Spanish classroom?

Why do you like working with technology in Spanish class?

A longer term goal

The students surveyed have a positive view of the use of digital technology. However, as some students prefer to use it on occasion, it is important to vary the approaches.

The tools in my repertoire were of interest to most respondents. Having used them in several different teaching contexts, I am confident that they can be used effectively in any subject taught.

These tools make teaching more dynamic and create a high level of motivation among students. I am convinced that the same applies to teachers. With this in mind, my sharing this compendium is an invitation to maintain the commitment to continue this digital shift where technology is used to benefit learning and teaching.

About the author

Karine Jetté

She has been teaching Spanish at Collège Montmorency since 2007 and is also a lecturer at the Université de Montréal where she trains future teachers of Spanish and French as a second language. By integrating digital technology into her courses, she seeks to engage her students and offer them a contemporary vision of teaching.

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