Technology And Teaching: A Lesson In Responsibility
How can we define the role of a teacher?
The knowledge, the passion, the struggles. An ever-changing vocation, where for each accomplishment, a new challenge arises. But what do we believe the essence of teaching is? To prepare children for the future. And we can all agree the future will be absolutely full of technology!
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Whether you’re an NQT fresh out of placement or an experienced teacher with decades on the job, technology has evolved massively since you were a child. Within the last ten years we have seen the explosion of social media, an increased attachment to mobile devices, and the advent of the content creator. What is a content creator? Well, today everybody is a content creator! Every person writing a tweet, uploading a photo, and commenting on a post is adding to a sprawling ongoing conversation on the internet.
Navigating the fast-moving waters of modern technology can be a scary proposition, even for an adult. Being able to share intimate thoughts and feelings in a public forum has its drawbacks, from issues with self-image, to a disconnect with reality. And of course, the hard-learned lesson that what goes on the internet, most often stays on the internet.
So, how do we prepare children for this future?
We bring technology into the classroom.
Introducing children to devices from a young age and in a safe environment has many advantages:
1) Connecting the real and digital worlds
Children should get used to seeing peers with a device in their hand. And working through a lesson in an online forum can teach children that what they say and do on the internet shouldn’t feel anonymous. Teaching safe play means reiterating the values of the class, online. Sharing, cause and effect, and a good-natured approach to each task. Supervised online gaming is an excellent way to achieve this.
2) Avatar creation
Help children get into the habit of creating a positive self-image online. Get them to focus on important attributes like their interests and their generosity. Ahead, lies decades of curating content for social media that acts as avatar creation. Every holiday snap, destination login, and emoji adds to a carefully created image to be compared to others. Reinforce that life online, just as in the real world, is not a competition. Use games to build avatars that represent the child’s spirit instead of a supposed social ideal.
Co-op games are a great way to get children communicating online. Create shared goals to bring children together. This is where digital teaching can excel and physical education can struggle. Even team sports tend to pit children against each other and the focus isn’t always on positive communication. Don’t underestimate the power of the quest. The mission that will take children on a shared search for answers and accomplishments. Values learned in the quest format can be used in other subjects too and we advocate creating class quests even if you don’t have immediate access to technology. After all, a child’s imagination is more powerful than any graphics card!
4) Respecting each other’s content
It is becoming easier than ever to create and share. In the past, a painting would go on the wall, a poem read out to the class. Now, with art, animation, blogging and vlogging software at a child’s disposal, the creative outlets are wider than ever. This brings a new responsibility for positive feedback. The old lesson, ‘if you don’t have something nice to say, shhh,’ is often lost on the internet. Create online spaces for children to upload their work and encourage pupils to comment constructively. Teaching children to navigate technology as an individual is just as important as building a community.
Preparing children for the future means preparing them for technology. But this isn’t something to fear. Children are more open and communicative now than they have ever been. They have outlets for their passions and access to tools that can realise their dreams. The lesson is the same as it has always been. Be good to others and be good to yourself. Communication, collaboration, creation, and have fun!
Truan Flynn, Educational Game Writer