9 Technology Tips to Support Study Skills
By: Kristine Burgess, M.S.Ed. (Reading Department Head at Landmark High School)
The Landmark School Outreach Program's mission is to empower students with language-based learning disabilities by offering their teachers an exemplary program of applied research and professional development.
In this digital age, students are inundated with technology. From social media to texting, their personal lives revolve around their phones and computers. Additionally, school work is becoming increasingly digital as schools seek to reduce paper and increase their focus on implementing technology to enhance the academic experience. While technology should never replace formal instruction, it can be a valuable tool for students to find success in accessing and interacting with curriculum. To maximize student learning and increase independence, it is important for students to develop appropriate study skills habits. Luckily, there are many technology options that can help students learn, build, and maintain strong study skills to be applied across all subjects.
What are Study Skills?
The term “study skills” refers to the management and organization of time, materials, and information. Study skills topics range from time management and organization to utilizing specific strategies for comprehending material. Instruction in study skills can incorporate the physical organization of materials, as well as the organization of information through note-taking templates. In addition, locating the main idea, differentiating details, and finding the purpose of a reading are all study skills that are necessary for students to understand classroom material. Along with literacy skills, study skills are an essential component of academic proficiency. Students must adapt strategies to fit their learning needs in a way that allows them to understand, organize, and prepare materials while also appropriately managing their time.
How Can Teachers Support Study Skills Development Through the Use of Technology?
It is important that students personalize their learning strategies for increased independence and success. Technology can aid in this process by providing students with models of several different systems and methods that may increase their access to the curriculum and interaction with materials.
Learning to appropriately prioritize and manage time is an important skill indicative of academic proficiency. Students must learn to determine when to complete assignments and in what order. In addition, students must also learn to anticipate the amount of time an assignment will take. Lastly, it is important to limit distractions during work time in order to be sufficiently productive. Technology can help students organize assignments and manage time well. Therefore, it is essential that students each use an appropriate system and “master” that system to become independent and effective in its usage.
Online calendars allow students to sync events and manage assignments and personal lives.
- Homework Apps
Programs such as MyHomework allow students to track and prioritize short and long term assignments. Reminders and alerts can be set through these programs.
Many variations of online timers exist to support students’ understanding of time and time on task. These timers also promote productivity for a specific duration of time, which helps students to remain on task.
The organization of materials is a precursor to the success a student will find in and out of the classroom. Each day, students are responsible for the organization of physical materials, such as pens, papers, and assignments. In addition, they have to manage several physical spaces, including their desks, lockers, and bedrooms. Staying organized is especially difficult during transitional periods. There are many strategies for helping students to organize materials. The master filing system is a great way for students to keep paper materials organized. However, technology offers additional strategies, systems, and supports.
Electronic checklists such as TickTick and Wunderlistare great ways to keep track of digital materials, as well as assignments. These checklists can be accessed on any platform, synced with other devices, and shared with other people.
- Google Drive
As students increasingly utilize electronics in the classroom, it is important to have an organizational system for digital materials. Google Drive allows for the creation of unlimited color-coded folders and documents. Providing students with models and instruction about how to organize their electronic materials is important to increasing independence.
Similar to Google Drive, Dropbox allows for the storing, syncing, editing, and sharing of documents that were created using a variety of programs, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. A Google account is not required to use Dropbox.
Organizing and Comprehending Information
Through study skills instruction, students are taught methods to aid in comprehension. Finding the main idea, connecting details to main ideas, finding implied main ideas, finding the topic, summarizing information, and applying active reading strategies are all study skills used to make sense of material. With this instruction, students are also taught how to record the necessary information. Two-column notes provide one great method for organizing information. Technology can offer additional tools and formats for students to organize notes and information.
- Graphic Organizers
- Note-taking Templates
Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Excel Spreadsheets allow students to create tables, thus utilizing the two-column note format electronically. Teachers can also create their own templates and share them with students to aid in the note-taking process.
Evernote is an electronic resource designed to aid in the research process. With Evernote, students can “clip” articles, highlight information, save articles with tags, and organize a variety of articles to be referenced later. This is a great resource for organizing materials and ideas, but it is more effective with later middle school and high school students.
How Does This Concept Connect To Landmark's Teaching Principles™?
Technology provides another avenue for presenting students with models of how to organize their time, materials, and information, which is Landmark’s fifth Teaching Principle. When introducing students to different methods of organizing their time, materials, and information, teachers will also need to show students how to use those methods. These demonstrations provide the students with models to reference when implementing useful strategies. These models will show students how each method can be employed, illustrate best practices for using each method, and demonstrate a desired outcome. For the full text of the Landmark Teaching Principles™, including “Provide Models,” click here.
Kristine Burgess, M.S.Ed. (Reading Department Head at Landmark High School) (2017)