This post is brought to you by Remake Learning and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
Through my years of blogging, there have always been hot topics that parents clamor to know more about. These days the right age to get a kid a cell phone and how to keep kids off screens have taken a backseat as we speculate about how school might start in the fall.
We’ve survived crisis schooling and realized distance learning is possible thanks to technology. At the same time, we’re not sure if we want our kids to continue virtual learning. We’re also unsure how safe it will be to return to in person classes and how likely the start of the new school year will look anything like it used to.
As a parent, I want my kids to have face to face interactions with their classmates and teachers who they so desperately miss. As a middle school teacher, I’m terrified.
Not knowing what the future holds or having a timeline makes me anxious. I’m uneasy about the health risks that could be posed to students, staff, and my community if in-person school is held for any number of days during the week. I’ve also seen the power that technology has to connect and separate my students. I always want to be sure I’m always using technology to facilitate learning.
3 Best Ways to Use Technology for Learning
As much as your kids might have hated ending the school year with online classes, this new blog post from Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning discusses the best ways to use technology for learning.
The Power to Connect- and Separate discusses the advantages and disadvantages of digital devices. It acknowledges technology can bring education to every corner of the world. At the same time, unequal access in lower-income school districts can cause huge disparities can that limit opportunities. The article also shares ideas on how technology can be used most effectively to benefit all learners.
The Power to Connect- and Separate also shares how technology can be used most effectively to benefit all learners. These 3 best ways to use technology for learning aren’t just for teachers to know. They’re for parents to know too so you can ask your teachers and administrators how technology is being used to engage, enrich, and connect students whether they’re learning in virtual classrooms or brick and mortar ones.
Communication and Connection
If your child didn’t enjoy virtual learning, ask them about the kinds of interactions they were having with their teacher. Chances are they were passive recipients of information.
The key to effective online learning is ensuring there is two-way communication. Small class sizes can also help ensure everyone gets a turn to be heard and an opportunity to ask questions.
Meet Them Where They Are
“How do we use what’s in existence around use and make that our learning environment?” asked Suzanne Walsh, President of Bennett College. She described the importance of dealing with the reality of the landscape and meetings students and families where they are.
As a teacher, it was helpful that I could continue to use Google Classroom to post announcements, share course material and resources, and post assignments. Students were familiar with the platform because they had been using it throughout their middle school years. Instead of requiring them to learn a new learning management system while transitioning to online school, I preferred to keep things familiar. Meeting them where they were helped reduce anxiety and ensured they were more likely to engage in class.
Not Just Consuming but Creating
So many times, technology gets a bad rap because we view screens as passive when, in fact, they can inspire kids to create something new. The Power to Connect- and Separate shares how the Saturday Light Brigade radio show provided hands-on learning through a public radio show. By requiring kids to use digital recorders, microphones, and audio editing equipment they engaged students in Pittsburgh in storytelling.
It’s hard to know how a new school year might start but technology should always be used for effective learning and real communication whether school starts as usual, all virtually, or as a hybrid model.
Teachers have overcome the impossible task of effectively teaching students while everyone was quarantined in their homes. Hopefully after a summer of reflection and professional development, teachers can create digital experiences that will engage students, help them maintain strong relationships, and build human connections in any learning environment.
Parents- Make Sure Your Teacher Knows the Best Ways to Use Technology for Learning
As parents, remember- you are your child’s best advocate! As we go into a new school year, don’t be afraid to make sure the best ways to use technology for learning are being used remotely too.
Here are a few helpful questions to ask teachers and school administrators as you start a new school year:
- What technology tools will be used for learning this year?
- How will you be using technology to actively engage my child?
- What flexibility do you have to integrate different technology experiences to meet kids where they are?
- What opportunities will be given to ensure my child is heard and can ask questions?
- How will technology integrated into the curriculum so students can actively use it to engage in learning this year?
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