Increasing Real Estate Student Engagement with Technology
Imagine standing in front of a room full of American students. Now imagine trying to teach the ins and outs of practicing real estate in the United States in French. There’s a chance a student or two might have completed a few years of French class in high school. But for the most part, even if you clearly give them all of the information they need, speaking a foreign language will make it nearly impossible to achieve a positive outcome for most of your students.
Technology can be viewed as its own language. As real estate educators, we must be able to speak to the language of technology that our students will quickly become responsible for in the real estate transactions. Some states don’t have a minimum education entry requirement (such as a high school diploma), and this poses a unique opportunity for real estate educators to bring forth technology in a friendly environment. To some students, even using a lockbox access device or shooting professional property photos is frightening (at best). As educators, we have the ability to expose these students to such tools in a less frightening way. The use of technology in classes can be awe-inspiring, even for those who are comfortable with it. We, as effective educators, have the opportunity to bridge the worlds between novice and expert.
The Blackboard Goes Digital
I recently handed an iPad to a student and had her write a math problem for the class as I dictated it. The iPad was linked to my projector, so the student was now writing on the board for everyone else to see. The students got excited by this cool use of technology—so much so that I no longer need to write anything. The students do the writing for me! They jump at the opportunity to write on the “board” and are more engaged in the learning process as a result.
Another example of using technology to improve engagement comes from a recent homework assignment that made use of video content curated by the students. I asked them to research any television shows that involved real estate issues. I had them bring their phones, and I connected them to the projector to show clip after clip of real estate topics in current and not so current television shows, like Gunsmoke and Law & Order. It was enjoyable for the students, and we had several laughs. But most importantly, the videos served as a backdrop for a discussion about how the issues were resolved in the videos versus how they are addressed in the modern real estate industry.
Music as a Teaching Tool
Bringing music into the classroom is another way to bring students and technology together. Playing music during classroom breaks is a wonderful way of allowing students to express their individuality. I take a bluetooth connection speaker into the room and invite students to play (appropriate) music they have on their phones during the breaks. I find this gets them comfortable sharing with the rest of the class. But just as important, it gives them exposure to the same Bluetooth technology they will use with their lockboxes to gain entry to a home. This further empowers them to be more comfortable with technology.
By getting students to use technology and bring forward something they are familiar with and used to, we as educators get more insight into who they are as individuals and can further assist their learning processes.
It is not uncommon for educators to want to do everything we can for our students. Yet their success, and ultimately our success, depends on getting them to take an active role in their education and career. Technology provides an effective pathway to accomplishing that.
Bruce Moyer is a NC instructor for prelicensing, postlicensing, and continuing education courses with Superior School of Real Estate. He is the former Director of Education and Licensing with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and is currently volunteering with the national Real Estate Educators Association (REEA). He is a regular contributing author and teaches the weekly Interactive Study Group for Dearborn.