Three Advantages of Using Technology At Home and in the Classroom

Three Advantages of Using Technology At Home and in the Classroom

Photo credit: St. Charles Patch

When technology, along with the proliferation of education apps, first started to make its way into the classroom and the home, parents and educators voiced equal parts caution and enthusiasm.

Now, 11 years after the release of the first iPhone — and the resulting proliferation of apps, tablets, and other devices in our homes and classrooms — it’s safe to say that we have had a decade to observe the benefits (and pitfalls) of tech at home and at school.

Embebed video credit: Engaging Technologies.

Let’s take a close look at three advantages of using technology at home and at school — particularly during the early preschool and primary years.

  1. Digital literacy matters.

Today’s emerging professionals — Millennials and the younger Generation Z (people born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) — are tomorrow’s CEOs. These groups grew up as digital natives — using devices and social media during their adolescence and apps and devices when they emerged. To them, exposure to technology is not a debate. Digital literacy is a requirement. And today’s younger kids have already grown accustomed to iPads, apps, and smart boards in the classroom, at least in more affluent areas.

Millennials and Generation Z are tomorrow’s CEOs. To them, digital literacy is not a debate. It is a requirement.

In other words, the train has already left the station. This means that the debate has shifted from “should we” to “how should we?” So, at the most basic level, today’s kids need to understand how to use devices, how to safely search online, and how to be critical thinkers of what they see and hear online. As a recent article on digital literacy points out, “No longer is technology use limited to the home, but has quickly morphed into an always-connected mindset. What’s more, kids will be using technology, the Internet and social media in college and later in their careers. For this reason, kids need to become digitally literate.

Kids will be using technology, the Internet and social media in college and later in their careers. For this reason, kids need to become digitally literate.”

2. Increased engagement to accommodate different learning styles

Anne Steinhoff, a writer for the Novak Djokovic Foundation (an early childhood education nonprofit), writes about a recent survey from Teaching Strategies (a respected early childhood curriculum developer) showing that 90% early childhood teachers use tech in the classroom regularly. As a result, Steinhoff tells us, “Many teachers confirmed that the use of technical devices such as tablets or whiteboards has increased the engagement of young pupils in lessons in their classrooms.”

“Many teachers confirmed that the use of technical devices such as tablets or whiteboards has increased the engagement of young pupils in lessons in their classrooms.”

Why is engagement for different types of learning styles so important? Simply put, it makes lessons and learning “stick” — retention. Dr. Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences in 1993. The George Lucas Educational Foundation blog, Edutopia, explains Dr. Gardner’s theory best: “A one-size-fits-all approach to education will invariably leave some students behind. In the article, the writers outline the different ways, from visual to auditory, or left-brain to right-brain, that kids learn.

The authors point out what teachers in the classroom constantly grapple with — there are some kids they can’t “reach” with their lesson plans. Creating different paths and experiences to learning is precisely what high-quality apps and other forms of technology can bring to both the classroom and the home.

Creating different paths to learning is precisely what high-quality apps and technology can bring to both the classroom and home.

It’s important to note that “engagement” is key in using tech, both at school and at home. Passive use of technology — having kids simply “sit” with technology and passively observe without actually interacting with a device to make things happen — is little more than a digital babysitter. As we’ve pointed out in previous blogs, using tech to ensure that it actually adds something unique and meaningful to the child’s learning or play experience is what matters.

3. Sparking creativity and breaking new ground

Where to start with this? The possibilities are boundless. It’s interesting that when we researched material for this blog, experts citing benefits of tech for kids didn’t usually cite creativity at the top of their list. But we think it belongs there. Research shows us, time and time again, that creativity is a cornerstone of learning and innovation, particularly for kids — tomorrow’s leaders. Liane Gabora, an Associate Professor of Psychology and Creative Studies, runs a research lab at the University of British Columbia. In a recent blog on creativity, she writes, “The pace of cultural change is accelerating more quickly than ever before… [W]e need to bump up creativity levels — to generate the innovative ideas that will keep us afloat.”

“The pace of cultural change is accelerating more quickly than ever before… [W]e need to bump up creativity levels — to generate the innovative ideas that will keep us afloat.”

What does this mean for parents of young kids today?

Relax!
Focus on creating great, immersive digital experiences for your kids at home — ones where you and your kids can spend time engaging with technology that delivers unique experiences to complement kids’ offline play and learning. From interactive books like Sesame Street’s There’s a Monster at the End of This Book to quality, educator-created early learning apps (including our own Papumba Academy), it’s a good idea to give your kids a digital head start.

And what does it mean for teachers in the classroom?

For teachers, ensuring that tech offers experiences that compliment offline learning is key to ensuring that all young learners in the classroom are engaged, creative, and prepared to navigate the changing world of technology that awaits them.