Parenting in the Digital Age - Technology in the Classroom Pt. 2

by Samantha on May 14, 2012



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What’s two plus two?

Ask a preschooler and they may just check the answer on the nearest iPad.

How about your child’s latest book report?

Links to the final assignment may be viewed by all on YouTube, in the form of a short play or monologue.

Times have changed, and so has teaching. If you have a child in the public school system, it’s likely that he or she will be using at least one technological tool as part of the daily curriculum. Whether it’s a computer, iPad, smartphone or otherwise, the prevalence of these types of items in schools is growing incrementally.

A New World Order

In the last installment of my Parenting in the Digital Age series, I discussed the increasing role that technology is taking in classroom, both globally and domestically. As well, some of the important factors such as access, special needs and costs were revealed as important points for consideration when embarking on digital learning. As we move with rapid pace into this new teaching model, both educators and parents alike are continuing to sort out just what this new model is going to look like, and how it’s going to work.

It’s a strange new world out there folks, and we’re at the dawn of an exciting and often frightening new age.

Technology can make or break our kids if we don’t use the tools we are given wisely.

But what is considered a “wise” choice, when discussing the specific aspects of technology and learning? Many school boards that are tentatively venturing into the field are taking baby steps with the curriculum while the best course of action is determined. What is keeping the progress from accelerating at a more rapid pace is two-fold: the fact that there is fear and uncertainty about how a technology-based classroom will manifest itself is, perhaps, somewhat positive. Moving cautiously into this uncharted territory requires mindful pause - which is what is occurring in many instances.

For those school boards that have embraced technology in some capacity, preliminary reports are for the most part, positive. Even so, what remains to be determined is the standard by which educators will use this technology in years to come. Because we’re in the infancy stage of using technology in the classroom, there’s no precedent that can be followed in terms of best practices. While some may see this as a drawback, we can also consider it a positive challenge as we carve out the required curricula for learning.

How is Technology Being Used to Teach?

The term “Technology in the Classroom” is, by many accounts, a misnomer. This is because the idea of using technology to teach is not wholly limited to the physical classroom alone. As a matter of fact, the very nature of tech these days allows educators to provide kids with a “hands-on” learning experience, both in class, virtually and otherwise.

I recently visited the TIFF DigiPlaySpace in Toronto.

The installation is a unique and interactive environment with the intent of teaching children about technology in ways that entice them to learn. Using the latest innovations as the basis for the space, children have the opportunity to try out various games and gadgets that are technologically-based. Because of the interactive nature of most of the setups within the installation, TIFF DigiPlayspace is a prime destination for schools. While attending with my family recently, I personally saw a number of school groups exploring at the many stations. Seeing children engaging on such a level was heartening, to say the least. They were definitely primed to learn and were positively interacting with the tools at hand.

Here are some pictures of my kids at TIFF DigiPlaySpace.

 

Is a location such as this one atypical? Perhaps, however not likely for long. The point is that the technological tools provided here will be more commonplace as both parents and educators alike embrace the advances that are available to them. This seems to already be the case, as there were a variety of school groups visiting the TIFF DigiPlaySpace when I was there. Judging by the level of engagement and activity of the attending students, we’ve only just begun to tap into the possibilities that technology can provide to students.

The Convergence of Social Media and the Classroom

As we tentatively wade into the world of technological learning, the discussion wouldn’t be complete without mentioning social media. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and related sites have become standard go-to locations for increasingly younger children. There may very well be an age limit on certain sites (e.g. Facebook’s terms of service demand that users be 13 years old or older), but that doesn’t seem to stop many kids from opening their own accounts - often with their parents’ blessing. As a result, parents and educators alike are faced with the reality that social media is quickly finding its way into the classroom, whether they like it or not.

A quick “Tweet” about what’s occurring in class is one thing; a Facebook or YouTube update with pictures and images is another. The topic of whether or not teachers should become “Facebook Friends” or be connected with their students via social media is one that continues to be of concern. In other words, social media has found its way into the classroom, despite some of our best intentions. The question now becomes: how are we going to handle it?

Scott Wild, founder of WildInspire and the innovative new educational awareness program, SocialMediaStudents has some interesting and timely ideas about how to handle technology in the classroom. Watch the YouTube video here where I interview Scott and he provides information and food for thought about some of the issues confronting parents in this age of texting and digital technology, as well as how social media in particular should be addressed in the classroom. Some interesting food for thought. Where do you stand on social media in the classroom?

To find Scott online, go to his website here: www.wildinspire.com and www.socialmediastudents.com

Twitter: @WildInspire

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SMStudents

VIDEO: Social Media in the Classroom

Coming up next in the series: Parenting in the Digital Age: Gaming

Previous Post: Parenting in the Digital Age: Technology in the Classroom - Part 1

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Wild May 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I can’t thank you enough for bringing some attention to this very important topic of technology in the classroom, Samantha!

Just a heads up that we have also created a Facebook page that people can join as we start to build this project. We would love feedback on what kinds of content and concerns parents and teachers would like to see addressed. You can find this page at http://www.facebook.com/SMStudents. If you are on Twitter too, we are at @SMStudents.

Thanks again!

Scott

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Samantha May 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Thanks again, Scott! I definitely hope that readers of this blog will check out your site and join your Facebook page to be kept abreast of the latest updates on this topic :)

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