Technology is here to stay there is no doubt about that. Are we moving at such a pace that not all can keep up the latest and best suitable. This could link more to being a reflection on the social and financial position of families. As digital literacy becomes as important as numeracy and literacy there is a greater pressure on families to make the latest available to their children so they can access the best aspects of education that is possible.
In an article in the NZ Herald “Plugging Children into Online Education” Dr Michelle Dickinson questions whether those “lacking digital access are in severe risk of being left out”. Reality is that there are a large number who do not have this access especially in their homes.
We recognise that in the last decade reference material in the form of books etc is being taken over by online research tools. Our Ministry of Education recognises the importance of the full integration of digital technologies into our curriculum.
How best do we make sure that is it equitable for all students no matter their background or parents financial situation?
Building Resilience – Families on the go , over scheduled diaries for parents and kids, growing peer pressure, being part of the world of social media and exposure to the undesirable effects of the digital world are a few of the things that put tremendous stress on parents and families.
We are seeing children and parents that are far more anxious and who don’t have the skills to support themselves when challenges and adversities face them. Many of the signs are invisible and while the growth of digital connectedness has many pluses it can also add to the pressures.
In the 21st Century Resilience has become a parenting concept that every parent needs to understand. Fortunately research tells us that it is something we can build and nurture in our kids whether it is at school or in the home. To do this we need to understand the implications and recognise it as a continuous process especially when things go wrong. It has been shown that it is just as important to build strengths and protective strategies as it is to take away or minimise risk factors.
What was relevant then still applies today. “The online pledge.” I came across something I had written quite a few year ago when children started to spend an increasing amount of time on the Internet. It talked about a growing concern about children’s safety on the Internet. The ability for undesirable material to filter through our email and internet poising an ever increasing problem. The importance of getting children on-board right from when they begin using the Internet.
The pledge seems just as important and relevant now as it was then. However, now it applies not only to the internet itself but how it is accessed form the many different types of digital devices available to kids or for that matter the phone and other implications form text messaging etc.
The type of message I was giving my children over 20 years ago still applies today but has a wider context.
Is it the technology that matters? What determines it’s effectiveness? What about the teaching? In an education world that is being increasingly driven by technology there are still a number of questions that need to be answered. How do we effectively measure the success and what creates it more successfully in one context as opposed to another? A lot of questions I know.
In a recent article I read “Five Golden Rules for Using Technology in Classrooms” I was reminded that it isn’t the technology that counts it is the purpose and that the right technology for the right purpose that has the best outcomes. Well who determines that? The educational institution decides on the best equipment for them but it is the teachers that decide the purpose it has each day and how well it is integrated into their programmes. It does appear that different types of technology suits different purposes. The ipad has its place and suits some learning aspects as does the many other forms of devices that are available. Not easy decisions for institutions or students and parents to make. It is important that all the facts are available. Whatever decision is made it doesn’t change the fact that the teacher is at the heart of making effective use of it in the programmes that they include day to day.
Should homework be ditched for play? That has been an ongoing question for educators and parents alike. How much homework? Should it be compulsory? What if they don’t do it? and …. of course what about just being a kid. Between school and after school activities some children don’t have much down time to create their own play or just to socialise with other kids. Each school decides on it’s own policy regarding homework and how it will be enforced.
I personally don’t believe homework should be a battle ground between parents and children. Often children are exhausted after a day at school and whatever they are involved with afterwards. If their parents are both working sometimes homework doesn’t even get looked at until after dinner.
However it is well recognised that children’s learning is enhanced when the school and parents are supportive and share the same goals. Developing reading skills and maths number sense can be reinforced at home and support the progress that students make.
Homework needs to be something that reinforces what they have learnt at school and not new learning which can often put more pressure on parents. Supporting children’s learning at home should be a time in which parents and children can spend positive time together.
In this technological age, however we do recognise the necessity of play and developing all those important outdoor skills. In a recent survey by the Herald on Sunday there were some interesting thoughts on this topic.
Living longer, being better educated, having better health and being fitter are all things most people aim for. Within that is the need to keep our brain as active and connected as possible. People in their 80’s are studying for higher qualifications and students of all ages are encouraged to retrain. As jobs are constantly changing this often becomes a necessity. It is now thought that the brain continues to adapt and change throughout our lifetimes. Neurosplasticity ( encompasses both synaptic plasticity and non-synaptic plasticity—it refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking, and emotions) can alter the strength and number of connections between cells in the brain. Trying new things, learning and retraining all keep our brain stimulated. Learning a musical instrument, new language or totally new skill all stimulate the brain.
According to a new study and discussed in an article by Christopher Wanjek “Learning a New Language at Any Age Helps the Brain” It discusses how students who learn two languages do much better in test and exams then students who learn one language.
This is an exciting concept and one which encourages us all to keep trying new things and attempting new skills. As i try to continually master the ever changing field of technology I am encouraged by the fact that i am keeping all those brain cells connecting.
The top 10 most important skills necessary for success in the workforce while maybe worded a little differently go hand in hand with those that are required for a successful learner. Surely the role of education is to produce students who become successful workers. Even before starting school children are exposed to some of these skills.
Collaboration is the new “in” word. Not only in their own environment but the global world in which they are continually connecting and with it comes a range of communication requirements as well as thinking critically about what they are reading and seeing. Global citizenship requires an awareness of how what they do impacts on others and of course there is a continual need to filter and screen information.
I am already seeing 5 year old children using these skills at their level. Keeping up and ahead of the students we work with also equips us and should keep us searching for as many ways as possible to develop these skills both in education organisations and at home.
The top 10 skills for the 21st century worker, according the visual below by the University of Pheonix, include:
- Critical thinking
- Global citizenship
- Productivity and accountability
- Accessing and synthesizing information
Graphic by University of Phoenix.