For decades, in-class lectures have provided a serviceable way to relay information, but times are changing. Technology is shifting how we communicate information in the classroom and, more importantly, how our students comprehend and retain that information. However, simply adopting technology is far from enough to benefit our students.
As humans’ attention spans continue to shorten, it is imperative teachers are able to clearly communicate information to their students right when they need it in real time. In a traditional teaching environment, it would be impossible to lecture a room full of diverse learners and meet all students’ learning needs.
One way to enhance lectures and real-time learning is through visual technology. More specifically, visual technology in the form of annotated screen captures. Annotated screen captures improve retention by clearly communicating beyond what words alone are able to do.
It sounds cliche but a picture really is worth a thousand words — screen captures express volumes and save instructional minutes. Annotated images allow me to be specific in my teaching, especially when a student is frustrated and struggling to understand written instruction. Whether conveying step-by-step instructions for a computer program or sharing tips to improve student output, visuals consistently prove their worth.
I would not be as effective in my job as an educator without annotated screen capture technology. While my personal computer does provide a screen-capture tool, I generally use Snagit because of its wider range of options. In short, annotated screen captures are easy to share, quick to use, and simple to view. In my classroom, technology is an important part of my daily communication with and among students, and I can share my annotated screen captures via email, presentations or even YouTube.
I have found textual information alone can fail to grab the student’s attention and interest like visual information does. As a result, my students have indicated multiple times they both want and appreciate the screen captures.
Educators must remember we teach a room full of individuals, not a class. The less time we spend on transmitting facts from the front of the classroom, the more time we can dedicate to addressing the needs of specific students and building strong relationships.
Unsurprisingly, however, there are still students who are skeptical about the place technology occupies within the classroom — a thought echoed by parents and educators alike. One of my students said it best, validating education technology in her end-of-semester portfolio. Her epiphany read, “(by) bringing technology into the classroom, we are able to bring education outside of the classroom.”
This is where we can harness the power of real-time learning.
Education has transformed from the over-sized backpack to the smartphone. By implementing technology in my classroom, my students can access and apply information right when they need it — just-in-time. Information seeking is a life skill and behavior educators should encourage. What use is a locker full of information and knowledge if you cannot apply it to get results?
In my opinion, real-time learning holds the key to student retention and kids maintaining interest in their own education. With access to classroom technology, my students direct and navigate their own learning in ways previously unfathomable to us all.
So, to you educators out there, don’t be afraid of adopting annotated screen captures into your daily teaching routines. Remember, technology is a tool to enhance teaching, not replace it, and its adoption takes time. However, by taking advantage of education shifts which technology allows for, we redefine what is possible in the classroom and help every student love to learn.
Alice Keeler is an educational technology specialist. She taught high-school math for 14 years and now teaches educational pedagogy and technology integration at Fresno State University and Fresno Pacific University. Alice is a Google Certified Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator and New Media Consortium K12 Ambassador.