Bringing technology into education has been one of the most beneficial initiatives we have done in our organization. Prior to using technology, much of our education included classroom lectures and voice over PowerPoints. We found employees were clicking their way through a lot of our presentations on our learning management system or texting under the table during our lectures. In addition, staff had trouble retaining the extremely important information we were providing.
Our story didn’t begin with tech-savvy individuals who were waiting for an opportunity to create games and apps. Our story began with a team of nurse educators who knew there had to be a better way to teach our staff. Today, we are proud to say that our team uses games, gaming software, authoring software and online educational programs in all of our teaching endeavors. In fact, we just started introducing virtual reality to our acumen. However, moving from traditional classroom to online applications was a journey. It took time to learn various programs and utilize them to their optimal performance. Therefore, we wanted to share three tools we used in the beginning of our journey to help others take their first step towards more interactive learning strategies.
"There are many ways to integrate technology into education if you are willing to venture into this type of teaching"
1. Online Multimedia: You don’t have to have a degree in videography to utilize videos or other types of multimedia in your classroom. Today, almost all tablets, computers and smartphones have some sort of recording capability. Seeing and hearing a colleague describe or demonstrate how to use a piece of equipment is much more interesting than hearing the sales representative. If you do not want to make your own videos, utilize YouTube, TedTalks or other instructional websites for some of your content. When we needed to explain healthcare reform to employees of all educational backgrounds, we found an amazing animation which captured exactly what we were trying to explain in a much more humorous and creative way. Videos and other types of multimedia can be very powerful, relatively inexpensive and easy to reuse.
2. Online quizzing platforms: There are many online programs that are free to use to bring quick quizzing into the classroom. These programs can be used in conjunction with a cell phone as the answer key or audience clickers. For those who prefer low tech options, a program called Plickers has students hold up a QR code card representing their answer. The teacher scans the room with a smartphone and the app is able to read and tally the results. We use these programs when we are trying to assess whether the participants understand the material presented. Many quizzing programs can also be played with teams which brings the element of competition into the classroom. We were amazed at just how competitive our staff are when we started having them compete against each other. We find quizzing platforms fun to use in staff meetings, orientation, conferences and other group events. Two of our favorite free applications are Kahoot and Socrative; however, there are many others on the web.
3. Gamification: Using gamification in education is becoming more and more popular. Gamification is defined as using game elements in a non-gaming context. For example, we created a quest for our staff to learn about the history of our company. Employees would log onto the game and enter Dublin, Ireland. In Dublin, they would visit various famous areas where they were asked to answer questions to discover a secret message. Once they found the message, they were given the opportunity to enter a drawing for prizes. We had hundreds of employees complete the journey and were excited to hear how much they enjoyed playing the game. Although we now create many of our games, in the beginning we used already created online games where we could plug our information in quickly. Two of our favorite companies are C3 SoftWorks and Goosechase. C3 Softworks has a lot of different games where the user can create customized learning experiences using their pre-made game platforms and Goosechase is a scavenger hunt game that is equally easy to use and fun for all ages.
There are many ways to integrate technology into education if you are willing to venture into this type of teaching. After implementing and trialing various technologies over the past several years, we have found a complete positive turnaround in staff participation and engagement in learning. In fact, we just launched our first custom made game called The World of Salus where new employees learn necessary onboarding information by visiting ancient ruins, infectious jungles, peaceful beaches and snowy mountains. The challenge is to collect badges from each of the areas to obtain a certificate of completion. Your challenge is to try some type of new technology in your teaching in the next thirty days. We know you will enjoy using it as much as we have in our organization.