If life teaches us anything, it’s that the one constant is change. No matter how hard we try, parts of our life are always subject to change. Some are planned, some are not, but all happen regardless of our opinion on them or happiness about them. Technology is no different.
In this post I’m going to look at the benefits of technology in the classroom. I have looked at this general topic before (here), but the benefits I will reflect upon in todays’ post will be different to what I discussed previously. There are many benefits to using technology in the classroom and are a force for change in our classroom. A force for enhancing our pupil achievement, improving pupil understanding and ensuring a high quality educational experience inside and outside of the classroom. Not every benefit will apply to every teacher in every setting. So I hope you get something from todays’ post. Enjoy!
How does technology provide a more engaged learning environment?
The first benefit of technology we can look at is that it can provide a more engaged learning environment in several ways. Here are some examples:
- Interactive and Multimedia Content: Technology enables the creation and delivery of interactive and multimedia content, such as videos, simulations, animations, and games, which can make learning more engaging and enjoyable. These interactive and multimedia resources can help students grasp complex concepts, visualise abstract ideas, and reinforce their learning through hands-on experiences.
- Personalised Learning Experiences: Educational technology can provide personalised learning experiences tailored to individual students’ needs, interests, and learning styles. Adaptive learning platforms and intelligent tutoring systems can dynamically adjust the pace, level of difficulty, and content of the learning materials based on individual students’ performance, feedback, and preferences. This personalised approach can boost student engagement by providing relevant and challenging learning experiences that cater to their unique needs.
- Collaborative Learning Opportunities: Technology can facilitate collaborative learning opportunities, allowing students to work together, communicate, and engage in group activities regardless of their physical location. Online discussion forums, collaborative document editing tools, virtual classrooms, and video conferencing platforms can foster collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking skills among students, promoting a more engaged and interactive learning environment.
- Gamified Learning Experiences: Educational technology can incorporate gamification elements, such as points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards, into the learning process to make it more game-like and engaging. Gamified learning experiences can motivate students to actively participate, compete, and achieve goals, creating a sense of accomplishment and fun in the learning process.
- Real-World Applications: Technology can facilitate real-world applications of learning, allowing students to connect their classroom knowledge with real-life situations. For example, virtual labs, simulations, and case studies can provide opportunities for students to apply their learning in authentic contexts, which can enhance their engagement, relevance, and understanding of the subject matter.
- Instant Feedback and Assessment: Educational technology can provide instant feedback and assessment, allowing students to receive timely and constructive feedback on their performance. This immediate feedback loop can help students track their progress, identify areas for improvement, and take corrective actions, which can boost their motivation and engagement in the learning process.
- Flexibility and Access to Resources: Technology provides flexibility in terms of accessing learning resources and materials anytime, anywhere. Online learning platforms, digital libraries, and educational websites allow students to access a wide range of resources, such as e-books, articles, videos, and interactive simulations, which can support self-directed learning and exploration, fostering a more engaged learning environment.
Educational technology can provide a more engaged learning environment by offering interactive and multimedia content, personalised learning experiences, collaborative learning opportunities, gamified learning experiences, real-world applications, instant feedback and assessment, as well as flexibility and access to resources. When used strategically and effectively, educational technology can enhance student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes, ultimately leading to a more effective and enjoyable learning experience.
How does technology prepare students for the future?
The second benefit of technology I will consider is that it plays a crucial role in preparing students for the future in several ways:
- Digital Literacy: In today’s digital world, digital literacy has become an essential skill for the future workforce. Educational technology helps students develop digital literacy skills, including the ability to use digital tools, navigate online resources, critically evaluate information, and communicate effectively in digital formats. These skills are essential for students to thrive in the modern workforce, where technology is ubiquitous, and digital fluency is a must.
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Technology provides opportunities for students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Through engaging with technology-based learning resources, students can learn how to analyse, evaluate, and synthesise information from multiple sources, think critically, and apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems. These skills are highly valued in the job market, as they enable students to adapt to new challenges, innovate, and find creative solutions to complex issues.
- Collaboration and Communication: Technology facilitates collaboration and communication, which are critical skills for the 21st century workforce. Educational technology allows students to work collaboratively on group projects, communicate with peers and teachers using various digital tools, and engage in online discussions and virtual classrooms. These collaborative experiences prepare students for future work environments where teamwork, communication, and collaboration are essential for success.
- Adaptability and Flexibility: Technology is constantly evolving, and students who are exposed to educational technology develop adaptability and flexibility skills. They learn to navigate and adapt to new technologies, platforms, and tools, which are essential in a rapidly changing job market. Technology also enables remote and online learning, which provides students with the flexibility to learn at their own pace, anytime and anywhere, preparing them for the future of remote work and online collaboration.
- Global Awareness and Cultural Competence: Educational technology can expose students to diverse perspectives and cultures from around the world. Through online resources, virtual exchange programs, and collaborative projects with peers from different countries, students can develop global awareness and cultural competence. These skills are becoming increasingly important as the world becomes more interconnected, and global collaboration and understanding are valued in the workplace.
- Career Exploration and Readiness: Educational technology can provide students with opportunities to explore different career paths, gain insights into various industries, and develop skills relevant to their future careers. Online job portals, career assessment tools, virtual internships, and industry-specific simulations can help students explore their interests, passions, and strengths, and make informed decisions about their career choices. This prepares them for the future world of work, where adaptability and continuous learning are crucial.
Educational technology plays a vital role in preparing students for the future by developing digital literacy, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, adaptability, global awareness, cultural competence, and career exploration skills. These skills are increasing in their importance for students to succeed in a rapidly changing and increasingly technology-driven world, and educational technology provides them with the necessary tools and resources to thrive in the future workforce.
How does technology connect better with students?
The third benefit of technology we can see in the classroom is that it has the potential to connect better with students in various ways:
- Personalised Learning: Educational technology can provide personalised learning experiences tailored to the individual needs and preferences of students. Adaptive learning platforms, intelligent tutoring systems, and personalised learning apps can adjust the pace, content, and style of instruction to match the learning style, skill level, and interests of students. This customisation can enhance student engagement and motivation, as it allows them to learn at their own pace and according to their unique learning needs.
- Interactive and Multimodal Content: Technology can provide interactive and multimodal content, such as videos, simulations, games, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) experiences, that can engage students in active learning. These interactive and multimodal experiences can stimulate students’ curiosity, imagination, and creativity, and make learning more fun and engaging. They can also accommodate different learning styles and preferences, as students can choose the format that resonates with them the most.
- Real-World Connections: Technology can facilitate real-world connections by bringing authentic, real-life experiences into the classroom. Virtual field trips, online collaborations with experts, video conferences with guest speakers, and real-time data analysis are some examples of how technology can connect students with real-world contexts and applications of their learning. This can make learning more relevant, meaningful, and impactful, as students can see the direct application of their learning to real-world situations.
- Collaborative Learning: Technology can foster collaborative learning, allowing students to work together on group projects, engage in discussions, and share ideas and resources. Online discussion forums, collaborative document editing tools, and virtual classrooms are examples of how technology can facilitate collaborative learning. Collaborative learning can promote active engagement, peer-to-peer learning, and social interaction among students, which can enhance their learning experience and deepen their understanding of the subject matter.
- Immediate Feedback: Technology can provide immediate feedback to students, allowing them to monitor their progress, identify areas of improvement, and take corrective actions. Automated feedback, self-assessment quizzes, and adaptive assessments are examples of how technology can provide timely feedback to students. Immediate feedback can help students track their learning, stay motivated, and make adjustments to their learning strategies, leading to better learning outcomes.
- Accessibility and Inclusivity: Technology can provide accessibility and inclusivity features that cater to diverse learners, including students with disabilities, English language learners (ELLs), and students with different learning styles. Closed captioning, text-to-speech, screen readers, and adjustable font sizes are some examples of accessibility features that technology can offer. These features can ensure that all students have equal access to educational content and can participate fully in the learning process.
Technology can connect better with students by providing personalised learning experiences, interactive and multimodal content, real-world connections, collaborative learning opportunities, immediate feedback, and accessibility and inclusivity features. When used thoughtfully and intentionally, educational technology can enhance student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes, and create more meaningful and effective learning experiences for students.
How does technology boost collaboration?
The fourth benefit of technology we can see in the classroom is that technology can boost collaboration in several ways:
- Online Collaboration Tools: Technology provides a wide range of online collaboration tools that enable students and educators to collaborate in real-time regardless of their physical location. These tools include collaborative document editing platforms like Google Docs, project management tools, communication and messaging apps, and virtual whiteboards, among others. These tools allow students to work together, share ideas, contribute to group projects, and provide feedback, fostering a collaborative learning environment.
- Virtual Meeting and Video Conferencing: Technology allows for virtual meetings and video conferencing, which can facilitate collaboration among students and educators. Virtual meetings and video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet, enable students to participate in virtual discussions, group activities, and presentations. Students can collaborate on projects, discuss ideas, and receive feedback from peers and educators, even when they are not physically present in the same location. This featuire might benefit Further & Higher Education on a more regular basis, given distance learning, but it can also have a place in post-primary settings during exam periods when students are revising from home.
- Cloud-based Storage and File Sharing: Technology provides cloud-based storage and file sharing options, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive, that enable students and educators to store, access, and share files and documents in a collaborative manner. This allows for easy sharing of resources, documents, and information among team members, promoting collaboration and teamwork.
- Social Media and Discussion Forums: Technology facilitates collaboration through social media platforms and discussion forums. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used for group discussions, idea sharing, and collaboration among students. Discussion forums, whether within a learning management system or on dedicated online platforms, provide a space for students to ask questions, share ideas, and collaborate on projects, fostering a sense of community and engagement.
- Online Project Management Tools: Technology offers online project management tools, such as Trello, Asana, or Basecamp, that can facilitate collaboration among students working on group projects. These tools allow for task assignment, progress tracking, communication, and file sharing in a structured and organised manner. This can help students coordinate their efforts, stay accountable, and work together towards a common goal.
- Gamification and Simulations: Technology can provide gamification and simulation experiences that promote collaboration among students. Gamified learning platforms or educational simulations allow students to work together in a virtual environment, solve problems, and make decisions collaboratively. These experiences can encourage teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, while providing an engaging and interactive learning environment.
Technology can boost collaboration among students and educators by providing online collaboration tools, virtual meeting and video conferencing options, cloud-based storage and file sharing, social media and discussion forums, online project management tools, and gamification and simulations. When used effectively, technology can foster a collaborative learning environment that encourages teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking skills, leading to enhanced learning outcomes.
How does technology support learning?
The fifth benefit of technology we can see in the classroom is that technology can support learning in several ways:
- Access to Information: Technology provides easy access to vast amounts of information through the internet, digital libraries, databases, and educational websites. Students can access information from various sources, including articles, e-books, videos, and multimedia resources, to support their learning. This allows for self-directed learning and promotes information literacy skills.
- Personalised Learning: Technology enables personalised learning experiences tailored to individual students’ needs, interests, and areas of strength/weakness. Adaptive learning platforms, intelligent tutoring systems, and learning management systems can provide personalised learning pathways, adaptive assessments, and feedback based on individual performance, helping students to learn at their own pace and level of ability.
- Interactive and Engaging Learning Experiences: Technology offers interactive and engaging learning experiences through educational apps, games, simulations, and multimedia resources. These resources can make learning fun and engaging, stimulating students’ curiosity and motivation to learn. Interactive elements, such as quizzes, videos, and simulations, can also help students grasp complex concepts and reinforce learning.
- Collaboration and Communication: Technology enables collaboration and communication among students, educators, and peers, facilitating discussions, group activities, and knowledge sharing. Online collaboration tools, discussion forums, social media platforms, and virtual meeting platforms allow for collaborative learning experiences, where students can work together, exchange ideas, and learn from each other.
- Flexibility and Accessibility: Technology provides flexibility and accessibility in learning, allowing students to learn anytime, anywhere, and at their own pace. Online learning platforms, digital resources, and mobile learning apps enable students to access learning materials and participate in learning activities beyond the traditional classroom setting. This can benefit students with diverse learning needs, schedules, and geographical locations.
- Assessment and Feedback: Technology supports assessment and feedback processes, providing automated grading, immediate feedback, and performance analytics. Online quizzes, assignments, and assessments can provide instant feedback to students, allowing them to reflect on their learning and make improvements. Educators can also use analytics and data from learning management systems to monitor student progress and provide targeted feedback.
- Enhancing Digital Literacy and 21st Century Skills: Technology equips students with digital literacy skills and 21st-century skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills that are essential for success in the modern workforce. Students learn to navigate digital tools, evaluate information credibility, and use technology effectively for learning and productivity.
Technology supports learning by providing access to information, personalised learning experiences, interactive and engaging learning experiences, collaboration and communication opportunities, flexibility and accessibility, assessment and feedback processes, and enhancing digital literacy and 21st-century skills. When used appropriately, technology can enhance the learning process, engage students, and prepare them for success in the digital age.
Ideas for Integrating Technology in the Classroom
Benefit of technology #1: Gamified Learning
Gamified learning, which integrates elements of game design into educational activities, can support students in various ways, as a benefit of technology:
- Increased Engagement: Gamified learning can make the learning process more enjoyable and engaging for students. Game elements such as points, levels, badges, and leaderboards can motivate students to actively participate, complete tasks, and strive for achievements. This increased engagement can lead to improved retention of information and concepts.
- Enhanced Motivation: Gamified learning can tap into students’ intrinsic motivation by leveraging their natural inclination towards competition, achievement, and rewards. As students progress through levels, earn points, or unlock new content, they feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue learning and advancing.
- Active Learning: Gamified learning often involves active participation, problem-solving, and decision-making, which can promote deeper learning. Students may need to apply knowledge and skills in context, make choices, and solve challenges within the game, leading to a more immersive and interactive learning experience.
- Immediate Feedback: Gamified learning often provides immediate feedback on students’ performance, allowing them to learn from their mistakes and make improvements in real-time. This feedback loop can help students understand their strengths and weaknesses, and adjust their learning strategies accordingly.
- Personalised Learning: Gamified learning can be designed to provide personalised learning experiences, where students can progress at their own pace and receive tailored feedback. Game mechanics can adapt to individual student performance, providing challenges that are appropriately challenging yet achievable, and accommodating different learning styles and preferences.
- Social Interaction: Gamified learning can facilitate social interaction among students, promoting collaboration, competition, and peer learning. Multiplayer games, collaborative challenges, and leaderboards can foster a sense of community and encourage students to work together, discuss strategies, and learn from each other.
- Skill Development: Gamified learning can also help students develop various skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, creativity, and teamwork. Game-based activities may require students to analyse information, make strategic choices, and work collaboratively, which can transfer to real-world skills.
- Real-World Application: Gamified learning can provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills in authentic, real-world contexts. Simulations, virtual environments, and scenario-based games can allow students to practice skills in realistic settings, helping them bridge the gap between theory and practice.
In conclusion, gamified learning can support students by increasing engagement, enhancing motivation, promoting active learning, providing immediate feedback, facilitating personalised learning, fostering social interaction, developing skills, and promoting real-world application. When designed effectively, gamified learning can be a powerful educational tool that enhances the learning experience and promotes student success and presents another benefit of technology in the classroom.
Benefit of technology #2: Virtual Field Trips
Virtual field trips, which allow students to explore places and environments virtually through technology, can support students in several ways, as a benefit of technology:
- Access to Diverse Learning Opportunities: Virtual field trips provide access to a wide range of learning opportunities that may not be physically accessible to all students. Students can virtually visit historical landmarks, museums, national parks, scientific laboratories, and other locations that may be geographically distant or financially prohibitive to visit in person. This allows students to broaden their understanding of the world and experience new cultures, environments, and perspectives.
- Enhanced Engagement and Interest: Virtual field trips can spark students’ curiosity and interest, making learning more engaging and enjoyable. Through interactive virtual experiences, students can actively explore, observe, and interact with the virtual environment, which can stimulate their senses and boost their engagement with the content.
- Immersive Learning Experiences: Virtual field trips can provide students with immersive learning experiences that can enhance their understanding of a subject. For example, students can virtually visit a historical site and visualise the historical events that took place there, or explore the inside of a cell to understand its structure and function. These immersive experiences can help students make connections between theory and real-world application.
- Flexibility and Customisation: Virtual field trips can be customised to meet the specific needs and interests of students. Teachers can select virtual field trips that align with their curriculum, learning objectives, and student interests. Additionally, virtual field trips can be accessed at any time and from anywhere, providing flexibility in scheduling and allowing students to revisit the virtual environment to reinforce their learning.
- Inclusive Learning Opportunities: Virtual field trips can provide inclusive learning opportunities for students with diverse abilities. Virtual environments can be designed to accommodate different learning styles, and students can interact with the content at their own pace. Virtual field trips can also provide accessibility features, such as closed captioning or audio descriptions, to ensure that all students can fully engage with the virtual experience.
- Cost-Effective and Sustainable: Virtual field trips can be a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to physical field trips. Physical field trips often require significant logistical arrangements, expenses, and environmental impacts, while virtual field trips can be accessed with minimal costs and environmental footprint. Virtual field trips can be a practical option for schools or districts with limited resources or for reducing the carbon footprint associated with field trips.
- Connection to Real-World Applications: Virtual field trips can help students make connections between classroom learning and real-world applications. Students can see how concepts and skills learned in class are applied in real-world settings, which can enhance their understanding and motivation to learn. Virtual field trips can also inspire students to pursue further study or careers in fields related to the virtual trip, such as history, science, or culture.
In conclusion, virtual field trips can support students by providing access to diverse learning opportunities, enhancing engagement and interest, providing immersive learning experiences, offering flexibility and customisation, providing inclusive learning opportunities, being cost-effective and sustainable, and connecting classroom learning to real-world applications. Virtual field trips can be a valuable educational tool that expands students’ horizons and enriches their learning experiences.
Benefit of technology #3: Create Student Websites
Creating websites can be a powerful way to support student learning in various educational settings. Here are some ways in which creating websites can enhance student learning, as a benefit of technology:
- Hands-on, Project-Based Learning: Creating websites involves hands-on, project-based learning where students actively engage in designing, developing, and publishing content. This allows students to apply and reinforce their knowledge and skills in a practical, real-world context. They can conceptualise, plan, and implement their websites, making decisions about layout, content, design, and functionality, which fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
- Authentic Audience and Purpose: Creating websites provides students with an authentic audience and purpose for their work. When students create websites, they often publish their work online, making it accessible to a wider audience beyond the classroom. This motivates students to produce high-quality work and take pride in their creations, as their websites can be viewed by peers, parents, teachers, and even the broader public. This real-world relevance and purpose can increase students’ motivation and engagement in the learning process.
- Digital Literacy and Technology Skills: Creating websites requires students to develop digital literacy and technology skills, which are essential for success in the digital age. Students learn how to navigate web-based tools, use website builders, create multimedia content, apply design principles, and manage online resources. These skills are transferable and can be applied in various academic, personal, and professional contexts, helping students become digitally competent learners and citizens.
- Personalisation and Ownership: Creating websites allows students to personalise their learning experiences and take ownership of their work. Students can choose the topic, design, and content of their websites based on their interests, preferences, and learning goals. This fosters student agency, autonomy, and creativity, as they have the freedom to express themselves, showcase their talents, and make their websites unique reflections of their learning journeys.
- Collaboration and Communication: Creating websites can facilitate collaboration and communication among students. Students can work collaboratively in teams, contributing their individual strengths and skills to create a cohesive website. They can also engage in peer review, feedback, and editing processes to improve the quality of their websites. Additionally, students can use websites as a means of communication and expression, sharing their ideas, thoughts, and perspectives with others, and engaging in discussions or debates on the online platform.
- Multimodal Learning: Creating websites allows students to engage in multimodal learning, where they can integrate various forms of media, such as text, images, videos, audio, and interactive elements, to convey their ideas and messages. This helps students develop digital literacy and critical media literacy skills, as they learn how to evaluate, create, and present information in different media formats. Multimodal learning also caters to different learning styles, as students can choose the media that best suits their strengths and preferences.
- Real-World Applications: Creating websites can help students see the real-world applications of their learning. They can create websites related to authentic issues, topics, or projects that have real-world relevance, such as social issues, scientific research, historical events, or community initiatives. This connects classroom learning to real-world contexts, helping students see the practical applications of their knowledge and skills.
Creating websites can support student learning by providing hands-on, project-based learning opportunities, offering an authentic audience and purpose for student work, developing digital literacy and technology skills, fostering personalisation and ownership, facilitating collaboration and communication, promoting multimodal learning, and highlighting real-world applications. Incorporating website creation as a learning activity can empower students to become active creators of content in the digital age and enhance their learning experiences in meaningful ways.
Benefit of technology #4: Online Discussion
Online discussions can be a powerful tool to support student learning in various educational settings. Here are some ways in which online discussions can enhance student learning, as a benefit of technology:
- Active Engagement: Online discussions require active participation from students, as they need to read, analyse, and respond to prompts or questions. This active engagement promotes critical thinking, reflection, and analysis, as students articulate their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. Online discussions also encourage students to express themselves in writing, helping them develop written communication skills, which are essential in academic and professional contexts.
- Collaboration and Peer Learning: Online discussions provide opportunities for collaboration and peer learning. Students can engage in discussions with their peers, sharing their ideas, perspectives, and insights, and engaging in constructive dialogue. Through online discussions, students can learn from each other, expand their knowledge, and gain new perspectives on the topic at hand. This collaborative approach fosters social learning, communication skills, and teamwork, which are important 21st-century skills.
- Flexibility and Accessibility: Online discussions can be flexible and accessible, allowing students to participate at their own pace and convenience. Students can engage in discussions asynchronously, meaning they can contribute at different times without being constrained by a specific class schedule. This flexibility accommodates diverse learning styles, preferences, and availability, making online discussions accessible to a wider range of students, including those with different learning needs or responsibilities outside of school.
- Reflection and Metacognition: Online discussions can promote reflection and metacognition, as students reflect on their own ideas, perspectives, and learning processes. Through written responses and interactions with peers, students can clarify their thoughts, deepen their understanding, and make connections between different concepts or experiences. This metacognitive process encourages students to think critically about their own learning and develop self-regulation skills, which are important for lifelong learning.
- Amplification of Voices: Online discussions can provide a platform for all students to participate and have their voices heard. In traditional classroom discussions, some students may be hesitant to speak up or may be overshadowed by more vocal peers. However, online discussions can level the playing field, allowing all students to contribute and share their ideas. This can empower introverted students, students from diverse backgrounds, or those who may feel marginalized in face-to-face discussions to participate more actively and engage in meaningful discourse.
- Diverse Perspectives and Global Connections: Online discussions can provide students with opportunities to engage with diverse perspectives and connect with peers from different cultural, geographic, or linguistic backgrounds. This can broaden students’ horizons, foster empathy and tolerance, and enhance their global awareness. Online discussions can also provide a platform for students to collaborate with peers from different parts of the world, allowing them to learn from different perspectives and cultures.
- Authentic Assessment: Online discussions can be used as a form of authentic assessment, where students demonstrate their understanding and application of course content in a real-world context. By participating in online discussions, students can showcase their critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills, as well as their ability to apply their knowledge to real-world situations. This can provide valuable feedback to both students and teachers about the effectiveness of their learning and help inform future instruction.
Online discussions can support student learning by promoting active engagement, collaboration and peer learning, flexibility and accessibility, reflection and metacognition, amplification of voices, diverse perspectives and global connections, and authentic assessment. Incorporating online discussions as a pedagogical approach can enhance student participation, critical thinking, communication skills, and global awareness, contributing to a meaningful and engaging learning experience for students in online or blended learning environments.
Benefit of technology #5: Use Social Media
Social media, when used appropriately and purposefully, as a benefit of technology, can support student learning in several ways:
- Access to Information and Resources: Social media platforms can serve as a rich source of information and resources that can support student learning. For example, educational organisations, institutions, and educators often share relevant articles, videos, infographics, and other educational content on social media platforms. Students can follow these accounts, join relevant groups or communities, and access a wide range of content related to their subjects of study, expanding their knowledge and learning opportunities.
- Collaboration and Peer Learning: Social media can facilitate collaboration and peer learning among students. Students can use social media platforms to connect, communicate, and collaborate with their peers on group projects, assignments, or discussions. Social media platforms can provide opportunities for students to share ideas, resources, and feedback, as well as engage in discussions, debates, and knowledge-sharing. This collaborative approach can foster teamwork, critical thinking, and communication skills, as well as promote a sense of community and belonging among students.
- Authentic Audience and Feedback: Social media platforms can provide students with an authentic audience for their work. Students can showcase their learning and creative projects, such as writing, art, videos, or presentations, on social media platforms, and receive feedback from a wider audience beyond their immediate classroom. This can motivate students to produce high-quality work, take pride in their accomplishments, and improve their skills based on feedback from real-world perspectives. This authentic audience can also help students understand the relevance and application of their learning in real-world contexts.
- Real-World Connections and Perspectives: Social media can connect students with real-world experts, professionals, and organisations, providing them with diverse perspectives and insights. Students can follow industry leaders, professionals, or experts in their fields of interest, and learn from their posts, articles, and discussions. Social media can also facilitate interactions with experts or professionals through Q&A sessions, interviews, or virtual mentoring programs, enabling students to gain valuable insights into their fields of study and understand real-world applications of their learning.
- Current Events and News: Social media platforms can help students stay updated with current events, news, and relevant topics. Students can follow news organisations, journalists, or experts on social media platforms to access real-time information, debates, and discussions on current events or trending topics. This can enrich their understanding of the world, develop critical thinking skills, and foster civic engagement and social awareness.
- Informal Learning and Informal Education: Social media platforms can support informal learning and informal education, complementing formal classroom education. Students can access educational content, resources, and discussions on social media platforms at their own pace and convenience, outside of formal classroom settings. This can promote self-directed learning, curiosity, and exploration, and allow students to pursue their interests or passions beyond the formal curriculum.
- Digital Citizenship Skills: Social media can help students develop digital citizenship skills, which are essential for responsible and ethical use of technology. Through social media platforms, students can learn about online safety, privacy, digital etiquette, and responsible social media use. They can also learn to evaluate the credibility and reliability of information, navigate through online discussions, and engage in respectful and constructive online interactions.
It’s important to note that educators, students, and parents should be mindful of responsible and ethical use of social media in an educational context. Proper guidelines, supervision, and digital citizenship education should be in place to ensure that social media is used in a safe and productive manner for supporting student learning.
The benefits of technology in the classroom, when thought out, planned, carefully constructed and well executed can give clear and obvious benefits to the learning of the pupil and enhance the standard of teaching. When expertly constructed and competently delivered, the use of technology in the classroom can reduce confusion and add clarity to instruction and understanding to curriculum content.
As a quick example (and proof that not everything needs to be digital – but innovative): I studied History at A-Level. As part of our course, we studied the Battle of the Boyne – a battle in history that is contentiously rememebered in Northern Ireland to this day. When I studied this course (1998-2000), my history teacher was nearing the end of his career and used photocopied, type-written notes. The original copy had no doubt been lost to the sands of time (and will probably be found somewhere close to the Dead Sea Scrolls), but we were working from a copy of a copy (parts of the page did not photocopy properly, so he told us what to write in these sections).
The part I want to focus on, are the events of the actual battle. At that time, through his instruction (a marker of teaching at that time), I did not understand at all what happened in the battle – only who won and lost and why it was historically significant. It stayed this way for 15 years, unitl I was driving past the Boyne Valley in Ireland with my family and we decided to stop at the museum. They had a 3-D model of the the battle, which detailed the events of the battle as seen in the image below.
This dispelled a persistent fog that existed over part of my understanding from this time. I couldn’t understand (audibly) how the battle unfolded and neither the text, nor the explanantion helped. After that the teacher moved on to other content. The introduction of a physical representation (complete with LED lights indicating the progress of the Battle) showed me what words and text could not. (I appreciate I could have looked it up online since then, but never had cause to, so phrasing it as a ‘persistent fog’ is a beautiful over-dramatisation of the facts.)
It’s been a powerful moment in my history as a learner. Seeing something at work will always benefit the learner and their ability to understand in a far greater manner than listening/reading about it. When I teach ICT, it is the demonstration of a task that benefits pupils most. Theory can be perfectly understood, but seeing a concept in action (and working) is a powerful tool for any teacher to use in the classroom.
Fast forward to the present day and our opportunity to use technology has increased; our ability to use technology has increased and the cost of technology has largely decreased. The benefit of technology should enhance and improve our reach so far beyond the classroom that our curriculum is delivered more efficiently and effectively to enhance our teaching in the classroom.
The benefit of technology is clear – for learners, for teachers, and for teachers as learners – using technology to access CPD is another benefit that hasn’t been considered today, but is of course part of the benefit of technology that we can make use of.
The next step is simple – think about what you want to create (you’ll know this from your classes – what would they benefit from most: video content? audio (podcast) material? Written content (eTextbooks)? and set about creating it! The next move is yours, but if you want to reach out for some focused advice, please do through one of the social platforms you find me on!