It is somewhat ironic that many things taught in the classroom today, which are currently deemed highly important, will no longer be relevant in five years’ time. On the other hand, many things we have not even heard of today will be considered vital knowledge then.
This pace of change reflects the speed with which technology evolves. It also explains the changed emphasis in teaching curricula in recent years. Progressive schools are now focused on cultivating and nurturing students’ ability to think critically and creatively so that their students can adapt to changes around them with confidence. Classroom spaces are being redesigned to facilitate a more hands-on, fun and collaborative approach to learning. Such a student-centred learning approach highlights the innovative ways in which schools are prioritising individual student development as they prepare their students for the future.
Mobility has changed the way we live and work, and certainly the way we learn, with increased attention being given to technology-based learning. As students prepare for an increasingly paperless, diverse and globally connected society, their interactions are more likely to be online – through voice, video or chat. By providing early exposure to the skills, knowledge and flexibility required in social environments, schools are building foundations that will help their students thrive in the world outside their institution.
Teamwork and cooperation form the core of successful workplace integration. In taking a collaborative approach to learning, schools are encouraging their students to pool together their imagination and efforts from an early age. Students learn to build trust and reliance, resilience and empathy, and learn to inspire their teams through deeds and words. They become more proficient in communicating their thoughts, considering alternative solutions and resolving their differences in group environments. The creative and critical-thinking skills they acquire here will stand them in good stead as they progress to universities, colleges, and subsequently, the work environment.
A collaborative atmosphere fosters a community spirit both in the physical and online classroom. As technology tools are incorporated into the learning framework, students participating in online projects are discovering how to develop communication and problem-solving skills within the safe and secure networks provided by schools. These interdependency lessons are advanced further through online engagement, shared discussions and social media skill development. With learning resources available online, students are widening their horizons and acquiring new competencies in how to gather information for research projects and present their results effectively.
By incorporating technology into the learning experience, schools are capitalising on students’ familiarity with technology devices and their contents. Fusing academic work into what students would consider leisure devices demonstrates that lessons can be gratifying and not always a chore.
The popularity of smartphones, tablets and laptops result in most students being already savvy in handling these devices by the time they reach school age. Schools are tapping into students’ fascination with these ubiquitous technology tools by integrating learning material into their devices through the schools’ online learning platforms and applications. By doing so, they are engaging students in hands-on learning across different subjects, from maths to languages, geography to sciences.
Teachers can keep students focused by engaging their inherent sense of fun as they learn. Interactive learning materials stimulate curiosity and a willingness to discover more. Social media use promotes student engagement. Creating lessons out of games and competitions encourages participation and promotes a deeper connection to the subject matter. Videos provide an audio-visual demonstration of the subject matter, supplementing reading materials. By blending online and traditional learning, students are being taught to be flexible in how they approach learning.
Personalised learning is perhaps one of the most important elements that has resulted from increased use of technology as a learning tool. Digital learning helps teachers form a deeper connection to individual students as they are able to pay closer attention and personalise learning according to individual needs. Teachers can monitor students’ strengths and weaknesses through analytics and performance tracking tools. With learning resources available online at any time, they can then devise a programme which suits an individual’s particular needs and pace of learning.
Technology tools are equally important in helping teachers gain insight into students’ participation and input in group projects, as well as in monitoring the volume and content of resources the students access. Teachers are able to assess, analyse and grade student performance and behaviour in a transparent manner and their reports are easily shared amongst teachers, facilitating feedback and suggestions to further improve student performances.
Technology in the classroom is not a substitute for traditional teaching methods. Instead it complements traditional teaching. It remains the role of educators to recognise which learning approaches are most appropriate for their students, and to blend these approaches for maximum impact.