5 Tips for Utilizing Technology in Teaching STEM Online

An Adventist educator shares tips and tools for teaching STEM classes online, as well as ideas for organization and finding useful resources.

Teaching
  1. Organize your workspace.

All teachers (in brick and mortar as well as online) know that organization is a key element of success. Here are a few of the digital methods I use and recommend to keep your workspace organized:

i) Digital folders and subfolders for every course (cloud backup)

ii) Email labels

I have literally hundreds of these which allow for super-fast recalling of important emails as well as keeping track of email submitted assignments.

iii) Standardized file titles

You’ll need to be able to find a specific key for a specific lab or test or lesson quickly so organize and standardize your files to find them easily.

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.

You will be tempted to create a lot of your own resources online. For example, I spent 4-6 hours a day preparing for four 1-hour classes every day my first year making everything from scratch. Sites such as http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ can save you a lot of time and actually improve the quality of the material you are presenting.

You can also find digital labs and external third party sites that offer activities and hooks to get your lesson plan off on the right foot. I’ll elaborate more on that in the following section.

  1. There are high-quality online labs out there.

As an online STEM teacher, one of the things I miss the most is having a well-stocked physical lab. I’ve found two solutions to this problem: home labs and high-quality online labs. Home labs work great for some labs. However, other concepts are difficult for students to have access to the right measurement tools like pH scales or ticker tape timers. In this scenario, a high-quality digital simulation lab is your best alternative. Two of the sites I’ve found the most useful are PHET and http://chemcollective.org/

  1. Consolidate digital resources on your end as much as possible.

Always remember to download and rename all digital resources you intend to use in an online lesson including pictures and videos as much as possible. When using links, you’ll need to check them often.

  1. Take advantage of the fact that you and your students are online all the time.

Being online removes a lot of traditional technological barriers. So share your screen, run that YouTube video on the spur of the moment, and have students Google definitions or find images for a digital collage.

There are also numerous digital tools you can use for formative assessment including polls and exit tickets. You have access to the entire Internet to find the coolest video demonstrations and instant research ability.

Another advantage specific to math/science is online graphing calculators (there’s a virtual Ti-83 from Google) and online graphing programs like desmos.com

Summary of links in this article (in order):

Author

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Brock, MS Chemistry. He works at West Coast Adventist School teaching high school math, science and technology. Has been teaching online for 5 years and brick-and-mortar for 4 years before that.

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