Australia is one of the first countries in the world to have more computers than students in schools. But as the number of computers and other technological devices increases, student performance does not . The days of cramming computers into the classroom and expecting an increase in learning are numbered.
Some argue that there is little evidence to justify investing in technology in the classroom. In fact, some studies even point to potential dangers. Some have suggested a link between screen time and increased ADHD, screen addiction, aggression, depression, and anxiety , dizziness , headaches , and blurred vision.
There is also a risk that the school’s focus on obtaining the “next best thing” could compromise student development of interpersonal, cognitive, critical thinking, and communication skills. Teachers must use technology in a balanced manner that enhances learning and skills development. Here are six evidence-based tips on how to do just that.
1. Use two (or more) ways of communicating
There are many opportunities for student writing to appear in a way that combines two or more modes (such as visual, audio or spatial). Creating e-books, videos, animations, blogs, web pages, and digital games is a new way to show literacy that involves a clever combination of these modes.
Words are rarely used alone on today’s digital platforms. Instead, they are illustrated with images, screen layouts, pop-ups, hyperlinks, and sounds to create meaning in a variety of , say, essay ways .
Multimodal literacy is actually a requirement for students in the Australian curriculum . More than 200 lessons cover this type of literacy, ranging from foundation (preparatory) to 12th year. Supporting children to create multimodal designs, even something as simple as creating digital pictures or diagrams, is a fantastic way to ensure educational benefits when using technology.
Nearly half (44%) of jobs today are at high risk of experiencing digital disruption in the next 20 years. The fastest growing jobs now require multimodal design and digital communication skills, for example engineering or architecture.
2. Channel creativity
Look for opportunities for students to produce rather than consume, and to be interactive and creative. Don’t just play educational games – create them. Students should not sit passively watching the screen, or sit through lecture-style content while watching the teacher flip through the slides.
Avoid educational software that only requires students to engage in closed-ended, “fill-in” responses. While it is sometimes useful to memorize information, such as spelling words, using a platform that encourages creativity and encourages children to think for themselves better for learning.
Kathy Mills / Author Awarded. Try to choose technologies that support interactivity, critical thinking, and problem solving. Examples include educational games that enable exploration (eg The King’s Request ), or websites that encourage learners to solve problems (eg Scratch ), write basic code (eg Hour of Code ), express their creativity (eg Stencyl ) or building something (eg Roblox for education ).
3. Select collaboration
Provide opportunities for students to collaborate in learning and engage with digital media. Collaborative digital activities can be used to engage students in higher order thinking skills and explore content in depth with the support of classmates.
This includes devices and software that enable multi-user learning and encourage students to interact with one another. These include interactive discussion boards, or applications such as ” minecraft for education ” where students can experience a shared digital learning environment.
Combine “ distributed expertise ”, where classmates help each other in areas of digital power, rather than seeing the teacher as the only expert. This has proven to be of great benefit in developing students’ soft skills (such as creative thinking, communication and teamwork).
4. Movement is key
Many digital technologies involve more sensory engagement than in the past. The use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or mixed reality (also known as hybrid reality – where digital and physical objects are side by side), can encourage children to be physically active while using their brain. Christian Moro / Author Awarded
Research shows that moving can help the brain stay active. Cognition is closely related to the interaction of the child’s body with the world, so the use and learning of technology need not be immobile!
This can include placing QR codes (markers) around the room for them to scan, or students using an augmented reality app where their smartphone or tablet is used to render objects, text, or 3D animations on the screen when the camera is pointed at the marker. Examples of software capable of this include Augment , which also offers special instructions and accounts for educators.
5. Media-free moments
While research supports the many benefits of using modern technology for learning, there are guidelines for managing time with technology. Teachers and parents should establish media-free zones, and set age-appropriate time limits and content and curriculum.
Removing your smartphone, turning off your computer, and maintaining a completely technology-free area at certain times of the day are important for building healthy habits with technology.
6. Support cyber citizenship
Teach students digital etiquette, how to present and protect themselves online, and how to become critically literate. Exemplary good citizenship and digital behavior, and always ready to learn. Adults cannot assume that children know how to interact safely and responsibly online.
Research shows critical skills are often lacking among primary school students. Teachers and parents have an important responsibility to show students how to critically evaluate how reliable online sources and other media are.