Personal & Professional Enrichment

Technology in the Classroom – A Recap of the Webcast

By Jessica Knott, Mary Wever, and Heather Dufner

Hello Spartan Nation!

Thanks again for tuning into the webcast. As promised, this is a follow-up blog post providing a brief recap and links to the software we discussed. The conversation happening in the chat was really incredible, and your follow-up questions and conversations have been really insightful.

For those of you unable to tune in, you can still watch! The recorded event is titled “Teaching With Technology for K-12 and Adult Education” and can be found here:

We began by talking a little bit about why technology in education is important. We are pragmatists, and don’t expect that every classroom will be fully wired with all of the gadgets and resources needed to create a truly integrated technology experience. As we saw in the chat room, issues of access are very real, not only in the sense of access to computers and Internet, but in the sense of access to education in general. We had people from rural school districts where Internet connectivity is difficult to come by, and from urban settings where finding and providing students with the tools to teach and motivate can feel nearly impossible.

What we do know is that higher education is increasingly wired, so anything that can be done to expose students early to the ways in which technology can facilitate learning, motivation, and collaboration is helpful. Technology, however, should be broadly defined. To us, computers and mobile phones are not the only answer. White boards are technology, Post-It Notes are technology, different colored markers are technology – combining these tools with the interactive and exploratory nature of the Internet is magic. To illustrate how technology is used in different settings, we shared a few data sets that illustrate technology use and online learning. If you would like to review these, visit:

Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: 2009 []


U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics–

We briefly discussed the idea of backward design, or in a nutshell, planning your content delivery around what your students must know and be able to do. Begin by thinking about the important content that is at the heart of your teaching, then figure out what students must be able to know or do to prove that they have learned it, design assessment activities that will allow them to prove they have learned these skills, and only then design content which delivers the knowledge they need to be able to complete those assessments. This is, obviously, the very simplest explanation of backward design. There is much more to explore, and tools to help you in the design process. For more on backward design, visit:

Understanding by Design []

or check out this set of books by Wiggins and McTighe: []

We also want people to know that teaching with technology doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and that many of the tools available today are free and relatively easy to learn and use. Something as simple as using a classroom website or learning management system to communicate with students can be useful in enriching your teaching and extending its reach. We provided links and information to traditionally defined computer technologies we enjoy and have seen success with, and shared stories about using these technologies in our own teaching and experience. The chat room conversations around the potential in augmented reality were especially interesting. The ideas and technologies presented below can span the K-12 classroom as well as instruction in higher and adult education. When thinking about what your “classroom” is, try to think beyond the walls of your school, university, or employer, and think about your classroom as wherever you share (and gather!) knowledge and information.

Here is the list of technologies we covered:

Classroom Websites:

Classroom websites can be invaluable not only for communication, but to get your students interested in creating and sharing information themselves. Here is a helpful link from Scholastic about how to create a classroom website quickly and easily:


Weebly –

  • Free, easy to learn online website creation

WordPress –

  • Free website and blogging creation

Wix –

  • Free, easy to learn online website creation


Videos can extend your classroom teaching, open time for more in-person discussion, and can show students how to do things more clearly than written instructions. Students may also enjoy creating content on their own, such as in the case of []. For inspiration this article shares 50 ideas of ways to use video in the classroom. []


  • Free iPad application. Download from Apple’s app store.

Explain Everything

  • Free iPad application. Download from Apple’s app store.



Blogging offers not only an assessment activity for your students, but also a means by which they can share what they know with others, or even the world. This article on blogging in the K-12 classroom [] is useful beyond K-12 education in helping you think about how blogging might fit into your instruction.


Edmodo –

  • Free blogging platform for educators.

WordPress –

  • Free blogging platform – slightly higher learning curve.


Badges are a little newer to the ed tech conversation, and can serve as both a motivator in learning and a shareable illustration of students’ accomplishments. Here, I offer two different articles, one for K-12 [], and one for higher education []. No matter what level you teach, you may find useful information in both.

Mozilla Open Badges-

  • Free badge creation and issue.

Mozilla Open Backpack –

  • Students can display the badges they have earned.

Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality can facilitate active learning, and make content come alive. Mary’s class loved the stories they wrote and animated, and became passionate about storytelling and revising their writing. Others may find use in creating QR code informational scavenger hunts, or using augmented reality as a way to connect people to one another in an interesting way. This article talks about different augmented reality ideas [] you may find useful as a starting point for your own thinking.


ColAR –

  • 3D Coloring App OR Make your coloring come alive


  • Create QR codes that come to life.


  • Easy drag and drop creation tool to make our world 4D

Finally, we discussed Twitter, and how useful we have found it to be in regard to networking, sharing ideas, and building a personal learning network. We recommend following the #edchat and #flipchat hash tags, following conference back channels even if you can’t attend (it’s usually easy to find the hash tag for conferences, most are included right on the conference website), and seeking others that share a profession or interest with you.This is a lot of information, but we wanted to write this blog post to give you a tangible bookmark for reference, and to expand on the application and potential for the technologies we discussed.

Please, don’t hesitate to contact any or all of us if you’d like to expand this conversation. You can find us here or through Spartans Helping Spartans. On Twitter, feel free to follow Mary (@weverworld) or Jess (@jlknott)! I promise, we’d love to hear from you!


Jessica Knott is a Spartan for life, as well as an instructional designer and applied researcher for IT Services Teaching and Learning at Michigan State University. In this role, she helps faculty, staff, and academic programs learn to effectively integrate technology into their teaching and research. She has worked in information technology since 1998, spanning the public and academic sectors, with work ranging from K-16 to adult learning. Knott is completing her dissertation in the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education program at Michigan State University, and holds a Master of Arts in Education focusing on educational technology and K-16 leadership from the same institution. In her spare time she hangs out with her husband and two dogs, and enjoys reading, volunteering, playing sports, skateboarding, and recreational research.

Mary Wever has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades in East Lansing, Michigan since 2008.  She loves to find creative ways to integrate innovative technologies into her classroom lessons, and craft an atmosphere that engages her students with tools they are motivated to use both inside and outside the classroom.  Her students call her the “techie teacher”, and this is a title she strives to keep by attending and presenting at many professional development opportunities to keep up with current trends.  In addition to being a Teacher Consultant for the Red Cedar Writing Project, Wever holds a Masters degree in Educational Technology from Michigan State University.  She is thrilled to serve as a Content Curator for the MAET Certificate Program as well as be an Instructor for CEP 811 at MSU.  Since Wever believes her most important job is being a wife and mother, she strives to be the teacher she would want for her three young sons.

Heather Dufner has been teaching in the East Lansing school district for the last 15 years, and is just now getting more comfortable embracing technology in the classroom. However, teaching is her passion, and the opportunity to explore technology has opened her instruction to things she never imagined. She lives in Holt with her husband Greg, and their four children.






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