Advice, Education, Graduate Student, Technology

Ayesha Anas, Ed Tech for Teachers

A smiling young woman in business attire and a colorful headscarf
Ayesha Anas, NU Scholar and Future Educator, shares her insights and tips on educational technology for today’s classroom

Featured Educational Technology Apps for Pre-Service Teachers

By Ayesha A. Anas

Even though COVID-19 abruptly changed the classroom dynamic from in-classroom to distance learning, it has certainly not detached teachers from the usage of educational technology tools. As pre-service teachers anxiously prepare for student teaching, what advances them, is their knowledge and implementation of pedagogy-based technology tools. Enlighten yourself by reading more about three ground-breaking applications that will enhance your teaching!

Are you looking for cutting-edge educational technology applications to use? As a pre-service teacher, passionate about leveraging digital applications, I highly recommend that aspiring elementary school teachers learn how to integrate technology into the classroom. Technology integration involves the usage of technology in the classroom to empower students with their learning. Pre-service teachers must learn how to leverage technology to address the needs of the digital generation, referring to those who grew up in a technology-enriched society and are comfortable using technology.

I further recommend the following three educational enterprising tools for future elementary school teachers to utilize for successful, engaging teaching. I encourage pre-service teachers to consider my suggestions and to explore distinct ways to adapt these unique tools creatively for their personal use in the classroom. Out of the plethora of valuable educational technology applications, I chose these three as a starting point for pre-service teachers when beginning to learn about diverse tools to use. I further use unique techniques and tried-and-true methods to optimize my usage of these applications.

Number 1: Adobe Spark (

Adobe spark screen shot

Adobe Spark is available for free and conveniently caters to educators. It was created by Adobe, one of the prevailing industry leaders in design software and publication. Furthermore, Adobe Spark is a suite of three fascinating content-creation tools: Spark Page, Spark Post, and Spark Video. Moreover, users can easily create stunning, magazine-style web pages with Spark Page, alluring graphics with Spark Post, and engaging videos with Spark Video. The paramount part about these three applications is that they barely require any professional design experience. Additionally, Adobe Spark caters to the creation of a variety of suitable educational content, from subject-matter videos with Spark Video (e.g., explaining the American Revolution to fifth-grade students in a social studies unit) to presentation slides with Spark Post that introduce vocabulary words.

The experience I gained while I was a private school teacher using Adobe Spark invoked me in creating compelling content. I used Adobe Spark to create appealing presentation graphics and stunning newsletters for parents with Spark Post and Spark Page, respectively. Additionally, I assigned projects for students to develop a captivating acrostic graphic of their names with Spark Post and About Me web pages with Spark Page. All these products ended up becoming academically beneficial and motivating, which is a metamorphosis to one’s teaching and enhances students’ learning.

For more information, I highly recommend that pre-service teachers  visit This website contains examples of student work and information on using Adobe Spark’s free premium features for classroom teachers. Conveniently, Adobe Spark is also available on iOS devices.


Number 2: Classcraft (

classcraft screenshot

Classcraft is a gamification platform that is excellent for classroom management. It increases student engagement and motivation by harnessing the power of games to boost learning. With compelling features, Classcraft promotes positive learning experiences. Although the application encourages the use of games to enhance one’s teaching, it does not promote video-gaming. Classcraft does include video-gaming elements, such as gaining and losing points, as well as customizing characters. Additionally, it primarily focuses on behaviorist principles for behavior management by enabling the teacher to award or subtract points from students. This feature ends up encouraging constructive behaviors from students.

I used Classcraft with a variety of students from different grade levels, and they loved it. It motivated one at-risk student to achieve better grades and earn points for rewards. He ended up being accountable for his work and getting perfect scores on his exams. I was delighted and felt emotional of the positive learning outcomes. Overall, I could focus more on teaching rather than continually dealing with behavior issues. Classcraft enhanced my classroom management and helped to intimately bond with my students.

Although the paid version of this application has additional attractive features, the free version still has merit. Moreover, the free version includes gamified classroom management (e.g., with a point system), customizable characters that enhance personalization, and convenient parent features (e.g., parents implementing Classcraft at home to award their children with points, parent-teacher communication). Furthermore, the additional features from the paid version are worth investing in to increase classroom management. For example, teachers can create personalized learning quests and utilize useful tools (e.g., noise meter, formative assessment boss battles).

Furthermore, this application may be developmentally appropriate for third-grade students and higher. It may be feasible to implement with primary-grade students, as long as they are interested in fantasy genres (Wayne, Gavin, & Read, 2016). However, the point system might not be suitable for children under five years old because they do not understand the concepts of video-gaming.

For more information, watch this video:

Number 3: Kahoot! (

Kahoot screenshot

Kahoot! is a valuable game-based learning platform that enables users to create quiz games effortlessly on any subject or topic. Teachers can create effective quizzes to introduce a unit, conduct pre-assessment, reinforce knowledge, and even gather formative assessment data to monitor students’ learning and inform future instruction.

Kahoot! is a dynamic application for students to play engaging games that measure their knowledge of a particular subject. Teachers can create a variety of multiple-choice quiz questions and add additional useful content, such as visuals and multimedia, for students to view that clarify the questions. Additionally, teachers can add wait times to provide students with extra time, which benefits English Language Learners (ELLs). Furthermore, the quizzes can even include interactive polls, which teachers can use to successfully gauge how students feel about their mastery of a subject.

Kahoot! further encourages collaboration and teamwork. Students can work in groups to correctly answer the questions.

I used Kahoot! with my sixth-grade students to reinforce and review their knowledge of Mesopotamia. My students worked in teams to answer questions accurately and quickly. I also collected data on which questions my students did not answer correctly, knowing what to reteach to clarify any concepts or reinforce the material that students learned. It was delightful noticing how excited my students were about gaining points and collaborating with each other.

Final Thoughts

Remember to never use technology for the sake of using and having it replace the curriculum that must be taught to students. All teachers should use technology wisely and purposefully to enhance student achievement of all learning outcomes. Teachers have the power to use these applications at their disposal. Even though COVID-19 has altered the educational landscape, it should not cause a learning pandemic. Keep on teaching and cheers to optimizing our students’ learning potential.

Clip art of smartphone, keyboard, and pen
“Remember to never use technology for the sake of using and having it replace the curriculum that must be taught to students. All teachers should use technology wisely and purposefully to enhance student achievement of all learning outcomes.”


Adobe Spark (2020). Adobe Spark across multiple devices [Screenshot].

Kahoot!. (2016). Kahoot! image [Screenshot]. YouTube.

LaFave, N. (2016). Classcraft across multiple devices [Picture]. Nick’s Picks for Educational Technology.




English learner, First generation, Graduate Student

First Generation Student Success

Claudia Garcia

Inaugural Cohort, Master of Family Therapy, San Diego Region

For many students, the path to college is paved by the example of their parents or grandparents. For first generation college graduates, like me, college is a path that must be created as you go. As a teenager, I had the goal to become a college graduate and often wondered if it was just a dream. My great-grandmother did not know how to read, write or count and my grandmother only attended the first grade. As I graduated high school, I did not know what tuition was and I remember searching the meaning of FAFSA.  My parents supported me through my journey but also struggled to navigate a system that was new to them. While I faced the challenges of being a first-generation college student, my family supported me and learned with me. I soon realized that in obtaining a college education I was not only accomplishing my goal but the dream of the generations before me. At the same time, I was paving the way for the generations that will come after me. Today, I am a college graduate and so is my younger sister. Looking back, the courage and determination instilled in me are what inspired me to meet my goals. These qualities enabled me to turn my goals into reality and become the first person in my family to obtain a college education.

In the present, I wish my younger self knew there are people who want to help. Besides family, there are advisors, mentors, students and professors who provide valuable support. It is astonishing how many people are interested in the success of others and all you must do is ask for the help. I wish other first-generation students were aware of the amount of support the college community provides. I must acknowledge, that my experience in college was possible because of the people that explained what FAFSA was and defined tuition to my parents when I needed to enroll. Through my time in college I learned to accept the fear of the unknown. While seeing others be confident in living the college experience I struggled to understand if I was doing things correctly. I failed to understand that they had parents and possibly many generations before them who had done this before. As first-generation college students, we must acknowledge that it is acceptable to be afraid because we are doing something new and something that is unfamiliar to us. While at times it may feel like you do not belong in college, you must remind yourself of what got you there.

The most important thing to remember is that college may be hard, but it is worth it. Having a goal and vision for where you are going in makes it a bit easier. Learning to be a college student while you are a college student can be challenging itself and having a specific goal reminds you of where you are going.  Lastly, as a student, I have learned of the importance to give yourself permission to ask for help and create your own path. It is acceptable to need help navigating college even for people who are not first-generation students. You are not the only person doing this for the first time and you are creating your unique path to a college education.

Graduate Student, Study Abroad

Why should you study abroad?

Jordan Montejano headshot

Jordan Montejano

Creative Writing MFA

In 2018, I went on a study abroad trip to Tijuana, Mexico. Here is what I gained from the experience and why I recommend study abroad programs.


Why Should You Consider Study Abroad?

Study abroad allows for you to bond with your fellow students, learn about history, practice a new language, and experience the richness of a culture through firsthand experience. It’s also a lot of fun.


Cultural Interaction and Learning

The 2018 National University Scholars Program study abroad trip to Tijuana, Mexico allowed me to learn about the people, history, language and culture of the area. I was able to admire the beauty of the natural landscape and the handmade crafts. At the Cultural Center, I viewed an extensive collection of artifacts and read up on centuries of history. I engaged in conversation with locals and enjoyed cuisine in areas of cultural interest such as Mercado Hidalgo, a large market with fresh produce and crafts, and La Calle Revolucion, a bustling street packed with various stores, restaurants, and iconic places like Caesars. Through my research, I discovered that many of the popular tourist locations in Tijuana today were first made famous during Prohibition, when there was a huge influx of people crossing the border from the US.


A Group that Studies Together

What I enjoyed most about Study Abroad was bonding with my fellow Scholars through a shared and collaborative experience. The trip helped to bolster a sense of comradery and allowed for us to see things from different perspectives, so we could reflect and gain a better understanding of what we learned and how to apply it.