Promoting Metacognition through EdTech Tools

Two students sitting next to each other facing a computer

What does it look like when students use edtech in the classroom? If you picture students working independently at computer stations, you’re not alone. In this blog post from Digital Promise*↗(link opens in new tab/window), the author shares ideas for stimulating metacognition in the classroom by moving away from individualistic tasks and moving towards opportunities for reflection and connection.

Siloed Learning

After students read an article, watch a video, or complete an assignment, they no doubt have many thoughts to share. What happens when they don’t have a peer to share these ideas with or they don’t have a place to capture their thoughts? The author argues that this is where educators can leverage educational technology to ensure that students have opportunities to discuss, reflect on, and iterate on their learning with each other.

“How can we use edtech to provide opportunities for learners to exercise metacognition (thinking about one’s thinking), which is key for making sense of content and understanding ourselves as learners?”

Tech Tools to Promote Metacognition

  1. Discussions
    Opportunities for student–student and student–teacher interaction help develop metacognition. Consider creating online polls, using a quiz or game app like Quizlet or Kahoot, or allowing groups of students to record themselves answering discussion questions using Flipgrid.
  2. Reflection Journals
    When emphasizing the importance of reflection, the author quotes John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience…We learn from reflecting on experience.” He points out that tools such as Google Docs can be a simple reflection journal for all students. With speech-to-text available in multiple languages, all students can access this reflection option.
  3. Charting
    Data display charts can help students see how they and their classmates are working towards their goals. Teachers can share the data with their students to empower them.

Building Metacognition with SMARTS 

Metacognition is at the heart of the SMARTS curriculum; students need to know themselves and think about what they know and don’t know about what they are learning. Metacognition is so important that it kicks off the SMARTS curriculum. Lesson 1.1 in SMARTS Elementary (How Do I Think About My Thinking?) and SMARTS Secondary (What is Metacognition?) get students ready to think about strategies to reflect, self-regulate, and direct their work.

What edtech tools do you use to promote metacognition in your classroom?

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

*Digital Promise↗(link opens in new tab/window) is a global nonprofit that shapes the future of learning and advances equitable education systems by bringing together solutions across research, practice, and technology.

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development:



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