The teacher’s initial assessment of the AdTech tool may focus on practical issues such as ease of use, integration capability, support, and safety. However, those responsible for designing learning technologies should strive to improve the lives of their users – each time a little more abstract and definitely more sublime.
Mary Baurmister, who teaches world history, humanity, world religion and ancient civilization for Grand Blank High School in Grid Blanc, Michigan, knows a thing or two about the impact of innovation on society. In a recent conversation, she commented on Adtech Innovation and shared how some of her favorite classroom tools make teachers’ lives better and improve outcomes for students.
Adsarge: Name some of your favorite Adtech tools. Why are these platforms different in your experience?
Bauermeister: First, I have to get started Guru. I have been a user for 10 years now. Our district fully accepted it three years ago. When epidemics led us to distance learning, Jupiter was truly God-sent. They’ve added a lot of new features that make teachers ’lives especially better. They’ve added a writable PDF feature that I use regularly. I can upload a Google Doc to Jupiter and then my students can use it as a writable PDF. I can give evaluation and feedback by all Jupiter. My students only need to relate to one entry point. They get their assignments, their work gets done, their work is presented, and they see results – all in Jupiter.
There are a few other interactive tools I use. I really like Edapzl. This allows me to guide my students on what they need to know and the live takeaway from the videos we use. I can upload my video, create my questions and then link everything to Jupiter. I also use Quizlet for reviews and Quizlet Live, which creates a great competition that really makes my students happy. Another tool my colleagues and I use a lot is the pier deck. This allows me to take any slide presentation and convert it into interactive activities. Students can do activities and get instant feedback from me in real time.
I love tools where students can help create questions using critical thinking and content knowledge. And students will often bring new tools or resources for me. For example, when using Quizlet Live, students wanted to use another application called Gimkit. I didn’t have time to implement this new tool, but why couldn’t they? I challenged them to put the activity together and they did. I don’t have to be an expert in every application. When I entrust it to them, it creates student ownership and autonomy. It is able to enable them.
Importantly, all the tools we use are integrated with Jupiter. Students do not have to worry about a separate login. It is precious to them and to me.
What does the design of a good edtech product mean to you? Does it become clear when a tool is developed with teachers in mind?
Teachers know what they need and what works. Some tools look good but have not been tested by teachers. Guru is good this way. They keep developing products based on teacher feedback and input. When they make updates, you can tell they’re listening.
When I send a message or suggestion to Jupiter, I get an instant response. I had a teacher who had some technical issues and the company contacted her immediately. Teachers are also sharing students ’reactions. With Jupiter, you can really tell that they value end user feedback.
Ease of use is also important. We are so immersed in technology. We have an annual tech convention in Michigan, a two-day event. We are overwhelmed by what we see. We come home and see what is really beneficial. If I can’t do it quickly, I’ll probably choose something else. Time is a finite tool; More intuitive tools are going to the top. That’s why teacher input is so important. What ordinary people see as intuitive may be different than what I see as a teacher. Saving time is the bottom line.
As we have seen recently, flexible products make it easier to pivot when remote / hybrid learning is needed. How did you and your colleagues take advantage of AdTech for success in times of crisis? Any long-term consequences in this shift?
Currently, we have students who have been excluded. To keep them connected, we expect a Google Meet to continue. So my students are able to listen and at least listen to instructions. This is a challenge for some teachers, but I think this kind of connectivity is here to stay. I can see – that students – who should be out of school for whatever reason – can still survive and not fall behind. For example, if we have students going home, we can accommodate them now. Looks like you will almost always have some sort of hybrid option.
Outbreaks appear to be exacerbated during this time. Now, it is possible for me to connect my students and classes with other high school students around the world. These are tools and applications that are perfect for any learning and learning environment with maximum collaboration, interaction and commitment.
We have all seen the power of virtual collaboration now. It’s safe, easy, convenient and very interactive. I see many opportunities for teachers and classrooms to literally engage with others – professionals, experts, guest speakers and other schools.