5 things parents should know about using technology in the learning environment
Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results than students who use computers moderately or rarely at school. What, then, should parents know about technology in the learning environment?
A recent global study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) examining the impact of school technology on international test results found that students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results than students who use computers moderately or rarely at school.
As schools and teachers find more effective ways to turn technology into a more powerful tool in the classroom, GEMS World Academy (Singapore) shares the five things that parents should know about children and technology as a learning tool.
1. Technology is a tool, not a replacement
Parents send children to school for not just the academic development, but more importantly the social interaction which takes place in and out of the classroom. Technology, when used strategically and with a clear purpose, can be an extraordinary tool which elicits deeper conversations and exploration of specific topics.
Students have multiple avenues in which to explore, information can be sourced by them, in their mother-tongue and swiftly translated into the academic language of the school. Technology can greatly enhance the manner in which we teach and learn, however it does not replace the essential elements of outstanding teaching.
2. Teachers still matter
Shiny computers are nice marketing tools, however they are in danger of gathering dust if not utilised by committed and engaged teachers. In the right hands, technology enables teachers to delve deeper into the learning progress of each child, using data from a range of tasks to give a clear picture on where a student is now and should be guided next.
Teachers are now significant aggregators of information, as well as content developers. They are no longer the provider of simple facts and figures; their role is far more important. The teacher develops tools that better measure student success and are equipped to review what should happen next, based upon clear and swift student learning data. Teachers matter more now than ever.
3. Technology enhances transparency in teaching and learning
Parent engagement is crucial to provide an essential foundation for academic success. Technology can aid in this process by facilitating a more pro-active role in monitoring, mentoring and sharing in their child’s progress. Excellent schools ensure that the written curriculum is accessible, homework is viewable and that communication tools enable more effective home-school communication.
For students in international schools, there might be instances where their parents are overseas. Technology bridges this geographical gap and allows parents to stay informed and participate in their child’s education via assignment trackers, student blogs and other online learning tools.
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4. 21st literacy skills form a core of all progressive school curriculums
It is an inevitable fact that technology is deeply entrenched in our lives. In a learning environment, teachers can guide students to become responsible citizens, not just in the offline world but in the online world too. Teachers can equip students with critical thinking skills by teaching them how to differentiate between reliable and unreliable websites. They can also help our students stay safe by educating them about the dangers of the internet and address issues such as cyber-bullying or the dangers of befriending strangers online.
By bringing this technology into classrooms, teachers can help students learn the best and most responsible way to use it in their lives. These 21st century literacy skills are fundamental to the ongoing readiness of children to prepare them for the world as it is now, and be adaptable to what the future may hold.
5. Technology enables significantly enhanced differentiation
Teachers today are no longer just purveyors of information. Teachers are important because they ignite passion in learners. Teachers are also an example of life-long learning and are mentors and guides in the learning process.
Technology enables teachers to swiftly adapt daily lessons to better suit the needs of individual students. They can continue to monitor, measure and adjust based on the data they collect from a variety of assessment and monitoring tools available through portable technology devices and highly functional applications.
Focus on people, even with technology
The OECD report made a significant implication – that teachers are crucial in supporting successful outcomes through the effective use of technology. The OECD urged school leaders to work with teachers to turn technology into a more powerful tool in the classroom and develop more sophisticated software for experimentation and simulation, social media and games.
Outstanding schools are always ready for innovation because they have a timeless, singular focus: people. At GEMS World Academy (Singapore), student inquiry is encouraged and developed, parents are partners in the education of their child, and the teachers are deeply committed to ensuring outstanding learning opportunities are consistently provided to every child.