bethany petty using technology to enhance learning

Bethany Petty: Using Edtech to Enhance Learning

Education technology must enhance learning. If it doesn’t, why use it? Today’s guest, Bethany Petty gives us pointers and shares a common pitfall of those implementing new technology in the classroom.

bethany petty using technology to enhance learning

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Using Edtech to Enhance Learning

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Date: May 1, 2018

Vicki: Using technology to enhance learning.

Today we’re talking to Bethany Petty, the author of and her upcoming book, Illuminate: Technology Enhanced Learning.

So Bethany, where do we start with finding technology that actually improves learning — and that we’re not just using because it’s new and it’s cool?

Bethany: You know, I think that’s one of the things that kind of scares some teachers a little bit when it comes to integrating technology tools in their classroom.

Sometimes they might be afraid of using a new tool because maybe they don’t see how it’s really going to enhance the learning of their students and that can kind of almost make some teachers shut down.

But I think it is really important whenever we’re looking at all of these — this wealth of technology tools we have in our twenty-first century lives — that we really ask ourselves if the focus of the tool is to enhance student learning or are we  just using the tool because it’s new and trendy and flashy, just so we can say that we use it.

Is the focus of the tool to enhance student learning?

So, in my book, I go through a few different ways that teachers can use technology. So, we use technology to engage our students? How do we use technology to do that? What kind of tools can we use to engage students in content?

What kind of tools can we use to encourage our students to collaborate, and to communicate, and basically just how we can use all of this great information that we have available to us as teachers — how we can use that to really benefit and enhance the learning experience for our students.

Vicki: Dare I ask you what some of your favorite tools are?

Bethany: Oh my goodness, I have a list.

Favorite tools

In my classroom, I am a high school social studies teacher. I teach American Government and then I also teach Dual-Credit Social Studies.

So in my American Government class, I run an in-class clip so we are constantly — my students are engaging in instructional videos. They’re completing formative assessments. They’re working together. They’re collaborating.

They’re trying to figure things out, and it is just a busy hub of excitement and work.

So some of my favorites are obviously Google Classroom — I mean, when Google came out with Classroom, they really knocked it out of the park. That has really been one of those tools that really has made my life easier as a teacher trying to keep track of student work and provide timely feedback.

We also use EdPuzzle in my class all the time.

Vicki: Oh, I do too, I love it.

Bethany: Wow, EdPuzzle is just fabulous because you know you can embed that formative assessment right there in the video. The students get to rewatch it.

My kids say that sometimes when I get really excited about stuff I talk really fast. That’s one of the perks of the in-class clip and with using EdPuzzle. They can rewind and pause Mrs. Petty, which is great.

So I really love that too, so I can provide them with that great feedback and then also monitor their progress and see, you know, how I can help them on an individual level.

Also, I don’t know where we would be without Kahoot and Quizziz and Quizlet Live. In the classroom the formative assessment is extremely important, and those tools just make it fun.

Whenever your students walk in and say, “Are we going to Kahoot today?” They are asking about whether or not they are going to be assessed, basically, and that’s so great that they get excited about sharing what they know.

So those are just a few of my favorites.

Vicki: So, now when you are using these tools, it is obviously how you use the tools, right?

Bethany: Absolutely.

It’s about how you are using the tools302 bethany petty 10-minute teacher podcast technology to enhance e learning

Vicki: Because, I mean, just because EdPuzzle does not mean you are using it right. And just because you are using Kahoot does not mean you are using it right.


Bethany: Exactly. Yes, it is kind of like talk about my book we are using these tools not just because they’re the latest buzzword. It’s because they are truly going to enhance the learning environment for our students.

So whenever I use tools like Kahoot and Quizziz and EdPuzzle, they provide us with that awesome data we can look at.

Use the tools as formative assessments and use that data

We can say, “This is where my students are really knocking it out of the park. This is where they — maybe we need to go back and revisit this. Maybe this is something that I can create collaborative groups, or we can use some scaffolding or some of those other great strategies.

The technology that we use really helps clear up all of that data for us.

Previously, in years past, teachers may have had to use ScanTrons, or they may have had to rely on paper-pencil tests.

How do you provide great feedback — efficient and quick feedback — with those kind of things, and how are you truly measuring what your students know?

Tools like those great formative assessment tools really help give teachers and students clear picture of the learning that’s going on.

Vicki: So what is the most remarkable thing you have learned how to do with technology as it relates to learning in the last three years?

Bethany: Oh my goodness, the last three years…

Well, things have changed so much in my classroom. This is my tenth year teaching, but about four years ago, my building went one-to-one with Google Chromebooks.

You know, I do not ever really suggest that people just dive head-first into something new — but, oh my gosh, that is what I did.

I was like, “I have got these ChromeBooks. I am going to use them!” And that first year I flipped my classroom, I created a YouTube channel, I was like, “We are going to do it all right away!” and fortunately, it was well-received.

Vicki: (laughs)

Bethany: But I mean, looking back, I am thinking, “Oh, Bethany… What were we thinking?”

But I would say probably the ability to connect with my students using technology has really just been transformative for me. We are in these, we are digital natives, we are teaching these digital natives.

Using technology to connect with my students has been transformative

And they are living in this technology-rich environment, but, so often, they focus less on how it can be used in the classroom, and focus more on well, let us use SnapChat and everything or FaceTime to connect with people.

Well, we were fortunate enough a couple of years ago, to have a Google hangout with our United States Congressman, which was absolutely awesome, because he was in his office in Washington, DC and my students got to – using our ChromeBooks – and we were able to talk to him.

We were able to see his office. We plugged it in with my projector my students asked me if they could take a selfie with our Congressman, and I was immediately just like, “Oh my gosh, did they seriously just ask to take a picture – a selfie – with a sitting Congressman?”

Vicki: (laughs)

Bethany: And it was awesome, and we have been able to do things like that since then. My dual-credit students work with classes in other countries. We do global collaborations. Right now a class in Belgium — we are preparing them to have a Google hangout with them.

So really the ability to kind of break down barriers, traditional classroom learning barriers, has just been amazing for me and my students.

Vicki: So when you implemented ChromeBooks, you said you tried to do everything at once.

What is the thing that you did the most right? What was, when you think about it, why did it work for you? What was the one right thing that did that you think “Okay, this really made a difference?”

What is the thing that you did the most right?

Bethany: Well, I think that, not necessarily just one specific tool that I use, but I think the way I approached this with my students and also the way, that I still approach this, is anytime something new, or try a new tool, or a new strategy, I always just say, “We are going to try something different today, and here is why. And I think that it is going to benefit you, I think it is going to create a more engaging learning experience for you.”

And I have juniors and seniors, so when I say that to them, they say, “Okay, Mrs. Petty.” They are going to give the benefit of the doubt most of the time.

So I think the big thing that I did at the beginning was always trying to make sure they knew what the “why” was behind what we were doing because if you don’t have your students buy in and you don’t communicate that the reason the we are using this.

Making sure my students knew the “why”

The reason is not just because we have to use technology.

The reason is because this will enhance your learning.

I think that that was really what I did that was beneficial… and then also solicit student feedback, because, you know, they are the customers.

They are the reason that we are doing what we are doing, so I think that just as it’s important for teachers to formatively assess their students based on what their students are learning. What is also is important is that we ask them, “Is this working for you?” I’m making a fool of myself on YouTube, but is this working for you?”

Vicki: (laughs)

Bethany: “And if it is not working for you, then we need to fix it!”

I mean, I started rapping on YouTube a few years ago because that’s what is going to help my kids, and that’s what I’m going to do. So just that helping them know the why and then soliciting their feedback I think as we go has been really great.

Vicki: Bethany, could you give us a quick pep-talk on really using technology to improve learning, as we finish up?

Pep talk on using technology to improve learning

Bethany: Absolutely.

So, it is important – and I say this in my book – try not to be overwhelmed.

You know, when I started using technology I, like I said, did all the things right away… and you don’t have to do that.

You can pick a couple of different tools or a couple of different strategies that you can use to enhance your students’ learning and that’s great, and that’s awesome.

Because what we are doing is — we have the best job, and the most important job, in the world. We are creating these — designing these learning experiences for our students, and our students are going to go out into the world and run the world and be amazing people.

And if we can do something, if we can plant those seeds in our classroom to enhance an environment to get them more engaged — technology can help us do that, and that’s awesome.

Vicki: So many great ideas.

We will be doing a book give away. The name of the book is Using Technology to Enhance Learning by Bethany Petty. Check the Shownotes for ways to connect with Bethany, and to read her blog, and find out all about what she is doing.

I am inspired to just remember to ask my students to get feedback. These are things that are really helping teachers use technology where it’s not really about the technology, it’s really about the relationship. And when you have that great relationship, you can really do lots of things with your students and with technology.

Bethany: Absolutely, yes. It is not about the tech, it is how you use it.

Contact us about the show:

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted

Bethany Petty is a Christian, mother, wife, full-time high school Social Studies teacher, educational technology enthusiast, reader, runner, blogger, and more! Bethany regularly blogs at Teaching with Technology ( where she shares resources, ideas, edtech tools, tips, and tricks, as well as reflections from her blended/flipped/gamified high school Social Studies classroom.

Bethany's blog has been listed as one of EdTech Magazine's 50 K-12 IT Blogs to Read (2016 and 2017). She has published posts on Edutopia, Fractus Learning, Sophia Learning, and Whoo's Reading, and has presented at multiple technology conferences, including METC. Bethany is a Google Certified Teacher, Google Certified Trainer, Apple Teacher, Nearpod PioNear, EDpuzzle Pioneer, Remind Connected Educator, and a Flipped Learning Global Ambassador.

Bethany also conducts professional development sessions in her school district and the surrounding area. Her first book will be published by EdTechTeam in 2018.


Twitter: @Bethany_Petty


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere