5 Digital Learning Tools Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Use

5 Digital Learning Tools Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Use


The 21st century is a time of rapid change, and while the brain may not be changing (much), the tools we use to feed it are.

This puts the 21st century teacher in a critical spot–of mastering constantly evolving technology and digital learning tools–the same tools their students use every day.

So below, we’ve started with 5 such tools, but this is obviously just scratching the surface. This list is not meant to be exhaustive (obviously), or even authoritative (but rather, subjective). This is the 21st century, after all. Months after this post is published 2-3 of these tools could be outdated, and if this turns up in the Google search results of a query in 2018, they may seem downright laughable, but here and now, this is a fairly accurate litmus test of what the kinds of tools the average 21st century teacher can be expected to use and master.

And incidentally, it pairs nicely with a related post, 36 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Do.

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Google Classroom is a free service that allows teachers to create and organize assignments, provide feedback on student work, and conduct discussions. Teachers can use Classroom to easily create classes, distribute assignments and materials for students, communicate with students and parents about class activities and allow students to collaborate with each other through the app.

Classroom allows teachers to create a class which can be accessed by invited Google users only. The teacher may invite his/her students using their school email account or through any other email account they have access to like Gmail or Yahoo mail. After the invitation has been accepted by the student(s), they can then share resources such as documents or links inside the classroom platform with each other as well as participate in discussions within their classroom.



Google Office Hours is a new way for you to learn from teachers and other students. They can also be used by teachers to help their students learn together. Google Office Hours include the following features:

  • Scheduled or impromptu meetings
  • Available in Chrome and Android
  • Integrates with Meet
  • Provides individualized instruction
  • Answers questions about homework


While Google Reader is going the way of the dodo, social readers like Feedly and Flipboard continue to surge in popularity because they’re attractive, accessible across devices, and make it easy to skim large amounts of information at once.

Why Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Use It

Extracting data from the internet is like trying to listen to the subtle melody of a Korn song. Tools like twitter, Facebook, and Flipboard can act as a kind of volume control (if you’ll allow a mixed metaphor) so that you can hear what you want, when you want.


By far the most consistently underrated digital learning tool we see, YouTube Channels have evolved YouTube from a steaming cesspool of mixed garbage, to a serious distribution tool for any kind of content—academic or not. So much so that important academic ideas such as the flipped classroom, blended learning, and the Khan Academy are literally based around its distribution model.

Why Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Use It

The formula is simple.

People love videos, so YouTube allows people to consume billions and billions of videos every single day.

While many of these are of cats trying to shake tape off of their paws, many of them are not. And by allowing anyone—from niche experts to general educators—to create channels of their own to curate and share digital media content, it’s probably the tool with the single greatest potential to transform the learning in your classroom.

As whimsical or substantive as the content you find (like apps),for film, video, or music, and dead simple to use, YouTube is capable of enabling self-directed learning, academic direct instruction, full-on test preparation (if that’s your thing), or authentic project-based learning, and absolutely deserves a spot in any 21st century teacher’s classroom.


If you\’re a teacher who uses Google Classroom, there is a component worth checking out called Curriculum Dashboard. This powerful tool gives teachers access to high-level data on their students\’ learning, including grades and assessments, while also helping them set targets against specific milestones and outcomes.

Learning goals are displayed in an easy-to-read dashboard format so that you can track your student\’s performance at a glance. With the new semester approaching, it\’s the perfect time to select those important skills that need improvement—and then monitor those improvements over time. The ability to compare your students\’ performance against that of other students in the same class adds valuable insight into which students are excelling and what they need to work on moving forward.


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