Q: How do design and technology work together to inspire learning in students?
This question was posed recently by someone interested in a digital reinvention of some traditional classroom resources, and what makes interactive lessons more engaging for students.
It goes without saying that technology has been an incredible addition to the classroom in recent years, and it’s still a new enough teaching resource that we’re constantly learning how to craft these tools to be most effective with every iteration and implementation. Without going into all the nuanced ways they can be beneficial, and based on my experience designing a few of these types of educational tools, here are a few big-picture observations I can make specific to how they can be used to inspire learning:
- In the context of a learning moment, when you give students respect, autonomy and control, they will return it with attention and consideration. A well-crafted digital tool gives the students the reins in this case, placing them in the position of no longer being passive receptacles for information, but active in their pursuit of it.
- Digital tools help us to meet the modern student where they are, in a context and reality they are familiar with. Providing the ability to manipulate and interact with dynamic content means that students feel more connected to it — it’s no longer foreign, static content that they feel detached from. This connection to the content makes it more likely that students will engage with it.
- Design and technology are not the only players that need to work together to realize a successful digital educational tool. The scaffolding and structure of instructional design principles, as well as the inclusion of subject matter expertise, are also both imperative. When these tools are supported by real-time data and authentic content, and when students are able to to self-direct themselves through it, they will feel encouraged and empowered.
By paring design and development methodologies like the application of accessibility guidelines or rapid prototyping and testing, with instructional design, new benefits and potentials for how these tools impact the overall student experience are constantly being discovered. But whether they are augmenting more traditional lessons or are part of an entirely new teaching approach, digital tools can be revolutionary in a classroom setting and an undeniable value they provide, is the ability to empower students in their pursuit of learning.