You’ve all read the alleged news that technology is hindering the educational experience for students and preventing them from learning the basics of the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic – amongst other skills.
Personally, I think it’s rubbish!
We live in an age where technology surrounds us, it encompasses us, and it makes us use it every single day in some way or another. You can even use technology to wash up!
Yes, back in the day we were writing on slates, in notebooks and using good old fashioned pen and paper to learn our basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. But times change. And yes, you can teach and learn these same skills using technology in today’s society.
The problem is knowing how.
Generation Z is a mobile first, mobile only generation. It’s a fact that all educators need to embrace. Yes, maintaining literacy, numeracy and science skills are vital and you can’t stop educating today’s students on the things we know from Generation X. But you also need to develop and enhance the digital skills of our young citizens too. And unfortunately (or fortunately depending where you stand with your views!), that means doing it with technology.
We live in a world where robots are set to leave people jobless in the future. And these people will be your students if we continue on this notion that technology is “no good” for their education.
You need to embrace the new age era of technology and use it to educate Generation Z in a way that equips them for the future but also teaches them the basic fundamental skills of learning. Believe it or not, technology today can actually do that.
So, where might you be going wrong?
Honestly? By worrying and believing that technology is impacting student behaviour. It’s not.
What is impacting their behaviour is that they’re given devices to learn on but don’t get educated with them. So what do they do: they browse the internet, they go on social media, and they stop listening because they’re not interested.
So what should you do? Inspire them, engage with them and stop fearing that the little 2-in-1 that Jimmy’s using is harming his education.
The truth is that learning’s not just about the tech you and your school invest in. It’s about how you teach with it and how students learn using it. Today it’s about focusing on how you can use the tech effectively enough to allow your students to learn and develop the necessary skills they need to survive tomorrow.
Ultimately it’s about how you use it, why you use it and what you’re using it for that’s important. Helping your students maintain the basic skills of Generation X combined with the skills they require to compete in the world of Generation Z now and in the future.
Okay, so you’ll probably now tell me that – “yes, yes – we are doing that.” But really? Are you? Are you investing in enhancing the skills and learning capabilities of your students as well as new tech?
I’ll keep reinforcing the point that it’s not just the tech itself that you need to use in the right way. You need to combine that with the right content/software/apps that allow you to teach and students to learn. Apps that teach a student how to read; software that allows students to practice handwriting.
And guess what, these things are readily available to download and use on your already existing hardware. Investing in experiential things to help students achieve is far more important than buying that brand new tablet because, and let’s be totally honest about this, you probably won’t really be using that device to its full potential anyway. Will you?
Technology shouldn’t be seen as a separate entity. You use it and combine it with everything else around you.
All of the things you didn’t think possible are actually achievable with technology – and it won’t be hindering the educational experience – it’ll be enhancing it.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Maths. A language of engineering. And engineering is by far and large a huge field of work, particularly in the digital sense and the future. Computer Aided Design (CAD), Finite Element Modelling and Analysis, Biomechanical Modelling – just some of the areas your students may study or work in further down the line. Requiring a level of understanding of mathematics but also the ability to use technology to help solve a problem or design something. Are you really telling me that in this sense technology is apparently restricting the learning process? It would appear not. In fact, like I said earlier, it’s really only helping to advance the learning process and aid students in preparation of their future.
Science then. A fundamental component in certain fields, again such as engineering. And therefore a basic understanding is needed. So you can’t afford for students to be lapsing in their studies. Again, by integrating specific apps, models, content apps and software with devices can help develop, nurture, maintain and expand the learning outcomes of this subject whilst using tech. Doesn’t appear like it’s hurting much here either contrary to what the press might tell you!
So, Educating Generation Z.
It’s pretty clear that the basic skills of Generation X aren’t really going away. It’s also pretty obvious that tech isn’t going away either. So despite the alleged claims that tech is “disruptive” to a student’s educational experience, it’s here to stay.
So you need to deal with it in a manner whereby you prove the critics wrong. And you do this by integration. Integration between hardware and software. Neither are standalone commodities and together they are powerful in educating today’s students for tomorrows world.
By integrating the use of technology your students will not only develop their learning skills, they’ll also enhance their career prospects too. And all without abandoning their numeracy, literacy and science skills.
Together technology unites and educating Generation Z is accomplished.
But you need to believe it too…