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15 Incredible Tech Tools For Teachers To Use In 2016

15 Incredible Tech Tools For Teachers To Use In 2016

When education is combined with technology, wonderful things can happen. Students are happier, more curious, and they receive the educational support that they need. Teachers are empowered to create engaging lesson plans, assess student’s needs, and effectively create a positive learning environment. Each year, new technologies are released, or they begin to gain attention. Here are 15 of the best tech tools for teachers for 2016.

Emaze

emaze - amazing presentations

    Teachers can use Emaze to create beautiful presentations that synthesize the elements that students have been learning into cohesive units. Students can use this tool to create presentations to demonstrate their knowledge on a variety of topics. Teachers can also track the progress that students are making on their presentations. Because Emaze works on a variety of devices and allows for sharing, it is a great collaborative tool both in and out of the classroom.

    Plickers

    plickers -collect real-time formative assessment data

      Many of the edtech offerings that are available only work if the students have access to a device as well as the teacher. Sadly, for many classrooms that is not feasible due to budget, or policy forbids it. With plickers, instead of using devices, students have cardboard plickers that the teacher can scan. These can be used to do impromptu polls, to check which students understand the material, and for a variety of other purposes.

      ZipGrade

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      zipgrade - turns your phone or tablet into an optical grading machine

        Anybody who is a teacher, or who lives with one, knows how much time they spend grading papers. With ZipGrade, teachers can create and print out assignments, then they can grade them instantly by scanning them with the camera on their smart phone. All they  have to do is align the squares on the grading sheet with the squares on the app.

        WriteAbout

        Digital Writing for Classrooms

          One of the best methods of getting reluctant writers to enjoy writing and to write more often is to give them the opportunity to write about the things that interest them. In the same vein, it is also the best way to get students who might be excited about writing outside of the classroom interested in writing in the classroom. WriteAbout is a platform where students can write, give and receive feedback to one another, and publish their work. Teachers can mentor students through this process and offer suggestions and feedback.

          Kaizena

          Kaizena - Fast, personal feedback on student work

            This is an add-on for Google Docs that allows teachers to leave feedback on students work on Google Docs or through the Kaizena website. Rather than taking the time to type out feedback, teachers have the option of using voice feedback. Even better, students don’t have to wait for teachers to check their work. Instead, they can request advice and feedback as they need it.

            Custom Writing Service

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            ProCustomWriting - Professional Writers and Custom Approach

              Educators can use custom writing services for a variety of purposes. First, these services offer up great content on subjects such as improving writing skills, great tools and apps for students, study tips, and more. Teachers can also contact these services for help writing tests, quizzes, and exams.

              StoryBoard That

              Storyboardthat - Powerful Visual Communication, Made Easy

                Teachers use this utility to help students create storyboards on topics related to English and History. This encourages students to take a creative and visual approach to demonstrating their knowledge by creating characters and story lines to build stories and to reenact  historical events. Once students have created their storyboards with the help of their teacher, it can be saved as a slide presentation, PDF doc, or cels within the storyboard app.

                Aurasma

                Aurasma - Start Creating Augmented Reality Today

                  Augmented reality is becoming more and more popular as a tool that teachers can use to embed exciting and enriching elements into everyday assignments and classroom experiences. Imagine students in a classroom studying about the origins of the planet earth, scanning a trigger image and watching a clip from a lecture by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Think about a student who is frustrated as they try to complete a homework assignment, but can scan a trigger image that leads them to a math games website that gives them a bit of a mental break while also driving home important concepts. Aurasma is the tool that allows teachers to create those trigger images and to connect students who scan them with enriching educational experiences.

                  PlagScan

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                  Plagscan - Wipe out Duplicate Content

                    It is a sad but true fact that academic dishonesty is rampant. In addition to this, many younger students lack education when it comes to discerning what is or is not original work. Teachers can use a tool like PlagScan to determine whether or not a student’s written work contains elements that are not their own. Then, they can decide whether or not they are dealing with a case of intentional cheating or simply an educational issue. Here are some detailed reviews on this and other plagiarism checkers.

                    Paper.li

                    paper.li - Collect great content to share And engage with your audience wherever they are

                      Everyday, teachers are working to teach students about a wide variety of topics. If they are trying to do so using the standard lecture model, chances are many of their students are bored to death. Paper.li was designed around the idea that students want to consume information in the same ways that everybody else does. In other words, not through lectures or boring texts, but through relevant content that is delivered in engaging ways such as newsletters.

                      Edmodo

                      Edmodo - safest and easiest way for educators to connect and collaborate with students, parents, and each other.

                        Edmodo is a sort of online social media platform for the classroom. Teachers can create accounts and then invite both students and their parents to connect with them. This platform can be used as a place to engage in discussions, to send out announcements, and to create a collaborative environment involving parents, students, and educators. This is a great tool for those who want a social media type environment without all of the concerns associated with those platforms.

                        Google Cardboard

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                        Google Cardboard - Experience virtual reality in a simple, fun, and affordable way

                          Many teachers have dreamed about getting kids excited and engaged by using virtual reality in the classroom. Unfortunately, even after the technology became mainstream, the cost of putting this technology in the classroom was simply too high. Now, Google has come up with inexpensive virtual reality goggles made from cardboard that has the potential to bring VR into all classes, not just the well-funded ones.

                          Versal

                          Versal - In the classroom or the office, creating powerful, interactive online learning experiences has never been easier

                            This is a free tool for teachers and educators that can be used to create courses for students. These courses might contain videos, interactive timelines, 3D models, and a variety of other content. Teachers can even upload their own existing content or import content from elsewhere on the internet.

                            Periscope

                            Periscope - Explore the world through someone else's eyes

                              Periscope has become a big hit with content marketers and bloggers, but the tool also has great eductional potential. Periscope is an app, created for twitter users that allows them to live stream video broadcasts via their smartphones. Audience members can join in, interact with the periscope user, or watch a video recording of the event after it is over. Teachers can use the app to allow students to create broadcasts and presentations, to connect students with subject matter experts, or to allow students to follow broadcasters who are filming relevant content.

                              Formative

                              Formative - Intervene in the moments that matter most

                                Formative is a platform that teachers may use to give out live, real-time formative assessments and receive results immediately. The teacher simply creates an assignment using the platform, and then has the students complete the assignment from the web enabled devices they have using their student accounts. The teacher can view students answers and provide real-time feedback. Even better, students aren’t limited to multiple choice answers. They can show their work, draw pictures, or find other ways to give their answers.

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                                Trending in Productivity

                                1 We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why? 2 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 3 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 4 14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress 5 11 Things You Can Do to Increase Employee Productivity

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                                Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                                14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                                In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                                For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                                For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                                Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                                Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                                Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                                How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                                Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                                1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                                Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                                For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                                2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                                Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                                Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                                Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                                3. Create a System

                                Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                                This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                                You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                                Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                                Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                                4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                                We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                                If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                                Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                                Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                                5. Use a Ratings Scale

                                Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                                Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                                It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                                6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                                This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                                You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                                You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                                7. Offer Feedback Forms

                                Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                                First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                                Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                                You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                                This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                                Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                                Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                                9. Use Self-Evaluations

                                Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                                Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                                10. Monitor Time Management

                                This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                                Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                  The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                  While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                  11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                  We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                  Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                  For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                  Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                  Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                  From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                  12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                  This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                  Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                  Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                  It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                  13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                  When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                  Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                  Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                  14. Use an External Evaluator

                                  Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                  They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                  While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                  The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                  The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                                  Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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