The COVID-19 pandemic forced students all over the world into homeschooling and online classes. While educators adopted new technologies and techniques in their classes, that doesn’t mean they were fully equipped nor prepared to do so to the best standard possible. Unfortunately, many schools still lag behind when it comes to digitizing learning experiences.
Yet as digitization across sectors continues to expand, children need to develop the right skills for tomorrow’s vocational and academic challenges. Future jobs will require creative thinking and logical reasoning as well as the ability to benefit from working with technological tools.
Technology-driven education helps children to develop these skills by giving more time for individual learning experiences, providing up-to-date material and methods, and including tools to enjoy playtime.
In order to get children ready for tomorrow’s challenges, educators should put emphasis on leveraging technology. With its help, they can integrate subjects with one another, providing students with a more comprehensive learning experience. Here’s how.
How technology can help develop creative thinking
Contrary to popular belief, creativity is a learnable skill and not a genetic gift only employed for artistic and musical expression. Moreover, creative thinking empowers students to engage in science, mathematics, linguistics, and kinesthetics, by serving as an inspirational engine for creating new ideas when challenged.
Studies have proven that being able to think outside-the-box is directly related to increased cognitive flexibility and enhanced problem-solving abilities, and it can have positive effects on social and emotional intelligence.
Despite the variety of benefits creative thinking has, many schools and traditional educational approaches still don’t foster the skill in children. Schools adhere to standardized curricula, in which they simply don’t give enough time and dedicated material for outside-the-box thinking. Parents as well as educational institutions can and should promote creativity as a skill by facilitating the right environment and by giving adequate tools.
The best educational methods for teaching creativity create space and time for exploration. The ultimate goal is to encourage children to ask questions and be curious, both forming substantial parts of problem-solving activity.
Technology can bridge this gap between traditional school content and modern learning approaches by opening up new ways of learning. For example, teachers can provide mobile phones and tablets to allow children to take part in web quests, write and paint illustrated stories, or use software for designing and creating infographics. And the advantage of using those tools doesn’t end with fostering creativity, it will also enhance kids’ technological understanding.
Technology supports teaching a variety of logical skills
It is important to encourage children to think logically from a young age. Logical thinking is an important skill for functioning in adult life. The ability to analyze a subject or situation from different angles and use observations to form assumptions is incredibly valuable, no matter the professional path the child chooses to follow.
Logical thinking encompasses a number of logical concepts, including sequential and spatial logic. Children should be given the chance to develop each of them in order to learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Further, as technologies further penetrate the majority of our work and personal life, it is crucial to integrate logical thinking practices with technological knowledge-building. The best way to achieve both at the same time is designing lessons for cross-subject skill-building projects involving technology skills such as creating databases, learning about 3D printing, or programming.
For children to acquire logical skills, it all comes down to evidence-based learning. This term means that students' learning outcomes are related to the use of reliable evidence outside of the classroom. Educators can expand on evidence-based learning techniques with the help of technology, as the internet, 3D simulations, and data-based programs allow students to collect evidence and learning experiences beyond the given class material.
The good news is, it doesn’t always need complicated and expensive software. Simply asking a child to collect evidence via the internet and present their knowledge in front of the class during a peer review session will foster the development of logical reasoning and critical thinking.
Technology can leverage playtime
In order to stay motivated and restore their energy for phases of concentration, young children need to have a balance between learning and playtime. Here’s the twist: Playtime can also be educational and foster skills development. If parents and teachers give children the right tools, playtime can actually be better for developing certain skills than spending the same time studying a single subject.
Cast your mind back to being a student in school, following the repetitive habits of listening, reading, and regurgitating information to solve an exercise. It goes without saying that going through the same motions, day in, day out, resulted in more than a few instances of losing concentration. The good thing is that learning doesn’t have to be this way. It can be fun and include playtime. Technological tools are the best way to diversify playful learning, as the list of accessible material, software, games and applications for students to use is practically never ending.
Further, technology can help teachers that struggle with keeping children engaged throughout the whole school day by helping them integrate playtime during class or by extending class content in a gamified way after school. Instead of reading a textbook page about chemical processes, children can engage with simulations that allow them to explore the reactions of all 118 elements of the periodic table with each other. Online applications let teachers gamify this experience by adding storytelling, colorful images and personal awards to children that successfully learn and recall the material.
How educators can better integrate technology into their lessons to offer comprehensive learning experiences
In order to optimize learning experiences, educators must work out how to connect logical thinking, creative skills, dedicated playtime, and technological understanding.
This can be accomplished with a curriculum based on the STEAM methodology, (as in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) which refers to a cross-subject integration across the five disciplines.
The STEAM methodology embraces project-based online learning experiences. With this methodology, students work on a series of challenges across disciplines, collecting evidence at home and in class, using software to model or design their examinations and present their findings to their teacher and peers.
Whether children design an alert system to mitigate the spread of a disease, restructure the public transport system of their hometown, or plan a school fundraising event, they should have the tools they need to do so within easy access. These might include data analysis programs, construction simulations or excel calculations, all of which can help children solve real world problems with vocational skills.
By championing the above technology tools and learning methodologies, educators can contribute towards building a future generation of students who can engage with complex challenges, articulate their ideas using technology, and exhibit the core competencies they need to succeed in life.
About the author
Hugo Aguirre is the VP of Research and Development at TBox.