Active Technology Can Benefit Students in a Digital World
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 educational journey of a student.
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, the user isn’t required to do anything to interact with what is happening on the screen. The same can be said for television programs.
In each instance, the user isn’t required to interact with the programming presented, and no skills are gained 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.
At the other end of the spectrum is active technology, which can be used as a learning tool by parents and teachers 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 develop similar skills but 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 where children are surrounded, through a headset, in a virtual learning environment. This allows them to be able to see and visit places they otherwise wouldn’t experience 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. While no child should be figuratively glued to a phone, tablet or computer, for the next generation of students to miss out on a digital world that encourages educational experiences could prove detrimental.