Active Technology: The Benefit of Technology in Education

Active Technology: The Benefit of Technology in Education

Kids sitting on a bed

In today’s classroom, students might be as likely to talk about the Elmo Visual Presenter, a computerized digital projector, as Elmo the red, fuzzy and lovable “Sesame Street” character who loves hugs. It’s the digital world they live in, and today’s children are enveloped by it in both their home and school lives. So, why deny them the experience of learning through the medium? Heading into 2023, telling a child to ignore the technological world around them is about as useful as instructing them not to breathe. But how they embrace new technology and use it in their own lives makes a significant difference. Children shouldn’t be constantly connected to a device all day, every day. If implemented thoughtfully, and with the proper balance, technology can more deeply enrich the student’s journey and let them enjoy the benefit of technology in education.

Passive Technology

Eyes can glaze over as users scroll through endless streams of YouTube videos. The same goes for swiping through the latest viral crazes on TikTok or posts on Instagram. The threshold for engagement for a user of one of these platforms is just slightly higher than having a pulse.

In social media and entertainment platforms like these, they do not require the user to do anything. Users are free to interact with what is happening on the screen. This is the same for television programs.

In each instance, they do not require the user to interact with the programming they present. This prevents them from gaining skills in the process. They are consuming viewed material rather than having meaningful interaction that facilitates creating and discovering new skills.

This passive consumption of technology isn’t healthy or appropriate for young learners and can lead to excessive screentime for the child. At home and in the classroom, passive screen time could include watching too much television, social media scrolling or playing non-educational games on a tablet or phone.

Active Technology

At the other end of the spectrum is active technology. Parents and teachers use it as a learning tool. They use it to engage children in specific learning activities that develop skills meaningful to student development.

Those tools can be delivered through different devices – tablets, computers, televisions and mobile phones. Integrating these devices into a student’s life can have a profound impact on their learning if applied correctly.

That means using the devices and the programs on them for constructive use that engages the students in a meaningful way and encourages learning, creativity, active play and exploration. Also, the engagement should be fun.

Digital games and online videos provide an outlet to let children visually learn and reinforce educational concepts like sharing, collaboration and problem solving. Online audio programs help younger students with auditory cues and instructions that give them a more immersive learning experience. These games and audio books help develop similar skills. They can also provide a chance for the student to hear proper pronunciations and the ability to speak with the instructor or program.

Virtual reality and augmented reality experiences also provide for other active learning experiences. A virtual learning environment surrounds children through a headset. This allows them to be able to see and visit places they otherwise wouldn’t experience. This includes experiences outside the digital realm, like zoos, aquariums, historic sites or outer space.

Conventional thinking might lean toward an oversimplification of how digital devices and screen time should apply to students. We should avoid allowing a child to be excessively use their phone, tablet, or computer, but depriving the next generation of students from the educational opportunities provided by the digital world could have a detrimental impact.