Online teaching is the new normal. As with anything new, this method of imparting knowledge can feel both exciting and overwhelming. This is especially true if you are faced with the challenge of picking the right teacher tools online to make your work effective and efficient.
Online education, particularly language learning, is not as simple as emailing PDFs and worksheets to students, at least, not in recent times. High-tech software, cloud-based programs, and mobile apps are deployed continuously to bring innovation into learning. This development has led to an increased number of teacher tools online and has improved students’ digital learning experience.
For any teacher to remain relevant, it is vital to choose the most efficient teaching tool. On this page, you will find seven of the best teacher tools online that are must-haves, particularly for language teachers. These tools, which range from video conferencing apps to collaborative resources, can dramatically transform your virtual classroom into a highly interactive space for you and your students.
Video Conferencing Apps
Language teachers can seize the opportunities presented by video conferencing apps to video chat with students one-on-one or in groups. Besides speaking with your students “face-to-face,” you can also invite an expert in the target language to co-host video chats. Doing this will give your students a first-hand experience of speaking with and hearing from someone (apart from you) living in a country that speaks the language they are trying to learn. You can also take things further by collaborating with other students across the world who are learning the same language through online conversations.
There are several video conferencing apps available, but my top pick is Google Meet, and for good reasons. First, the app is free, and it offers unlimited use for everyone. Also, you can use it to video chat with up to 100 participants at once, so you don’t have to worry if you have lots of students joining in on the call. With Google Meet, you can hold classes for as long as an hour and even record the entire meeting so that students who could not attend the live session can catch up later.
Other great features of this app include real-time captioning, screen sharing, and call scheduling. The only requirement is that your students and all participants should have a free Google account.
Practice questions or homework helps to reinforce what is taught in a classroom (real or virtual). Assigning online homework is more effective with the following tools.
Extempore is a cloud-based oral language assessment tool. Language teachers and students will find this program beneficial for speaking practice. Students can record and submit answers to their homework using the web or directly from their mobile devices.
In turn, tutors can assess the responses at their convenience from their computers or in real-time. Since the software allows students to record their speech practices outside the classroom, they can playback their old recordings to see how much they have improved.
Taking notes is an essential part of learning a language, which is why Squid notes are one of the vital teacher tools online for both tutors and students.
Squid is a free digital tool that allows users to take handwritten notes, grade students’ homework, markup PDFs, write on presentations, and even sign documents. With Squid, teachers can easily import worksheets or PDFs that students can directly work on and export to the teacher for review.
Video Production and Screen Recording
Recording your sessions with students is a great way to critique and improve your teaching methods and make lessons available for future review.
Camtasia is an excellent screen-recording program for your language lesson, particularly if you are considering building an online course. It is great for explainer videos, webinars, and how-to videos. You can create quizzes in screen-recordings using Camtasia to measure student’s learning and to increase interactivity.
Another easy-to-use screen-recording tool is Screencast-O-Matic. You can use the free version of this app to record up to 15 minutes of lessons. It is especially great for recording student sessions that you can save for later review.
If you want to share a video of you teaching with no interactions required, consider hosting your language lessons on YouTube. It is a free online tool for sharing videos to the public or a selected audience (your students).
Collaborating with other teachers or working with students and parents can pose a bit of a challenge, especially online. Getting access to lessons and study materials and communicating expectations online may prove difficult with back and forth emailing. Thankfully, teachers can collaborate with others seamlessly using some amazing programs online.
Google Docs is undoubtedly the best when it comes to online document collaboration. It is free with unlimited use for anyone with a free Google account. With Google Docs, you can create, store, and share presentations, spreadsheets, and documents with your students.
Teachers and students can work individually or together using Google Docs. You can import your language lessons prepared in any MS Office or Open Office file. And because the software is web-based, you don’t need to worry about hitting the save button as your changes are saved automatically.
Sharing online resources is effortless with LiveBinders. It is a free online too used for bookmarking websites and organizing worksheets, presentations, and documents into relevant tabs, just like the three-ring binders of old.
With your resources organized in one digital electronic binder, students and parents can quickly find relevant information. LiveBinders is also an excellent way to share lesson plans with other teachers for collaborative purposes.
Make Your Virtual Language Classes Exceptional
These educational resources mentioned above will remain relevant for a long time. I recommend that educators cash in on the interactive functions of these teacher tools online to create exciting engagements and activities for their students. With these programs, you can hold your students’ attention, create emotional connections, and transfer knowledge online just as you could in an in-person experience.