A Guest Post About Generation Z and Technology by Jana Rooheart
Technology offers such a variety of options it boggles the mind. The Internet is full of futuristic predictions about what the education will look like next year, in five, ten years’ time. iPad for every student or “bring your own device” school policy are no longer an option, but a requirement.
Indeed, VR, 3D printing, wearable gadgets, and even robotic toys that enter classrooms today look very exciting and promising. They open new incredible possibilities. VR adds new dimensions to learning by offering students to test the waters of desired careers and experience various themed satiations. 3D printing empowers future designers and engineers to invent something that is truly new, that never existed before and to have everything they need to build it if they can incept it in their minds. Robotic assistants can be a valuable aid in special-needs education.
Navigating Digital Sea
However, how exactly all these possibilities are used at school hardly ever becomes a subject of public concern and scrutiny. One thing is certain – what information to access must not be left entirely to the student’s discretion. Children and teenagers still need guidance and counseling on what is worth their attention and their time. They should also be encouraged to invest some effort into something that is. Nevertheless, once children come in possession of a smartphone or tablet, they are usually left to their own devices, if you pardon the pun.
When it comes to restrictions, they can be very beneficial. Keeping an eye on their online activities, chats and so on wouldn’t hurt either. First of all, technology is not always put to good use. In class, student-owned devices mainly cause distraction instead of promoting interest. Second, too much of a good thing is good for nothing. If you constantly have everything you can possibly learn in your pocket, it is easy to become jaded and indifferent. After all, you can only appreciate something sought for – if you always win, any game becomes boring. Constant and unrestricted access to the Internet, to the endless sea of information seems thrilling only until it is granted. When we used to go to the library or an Internet club to look up something we needed, we savored the moment, we were looking forward to it, making the lists of some important issues we would want to explore. Now we have the entire Internet on our smartphones – and what do we do with it? Watching cat videos and sharing funny pictures.
Taking The Opportunities
What can we do for our children, who do not remember the world before digital? First of all, accept the benefits that digital brings to education. The market of educational software is dominated by several renowned companies, however, there are more and more emerging: independent publishers with one-off products in specific areas (from engineering to fine arts and history of dance). OER (open educational resources – materials licensed in such a way they can be freely used, revised, and shared) are also aplenty. Wikipedia, Khan Academy, iTunesU, Udemy, and YouTube.Edu allow students access learning opportunities on an anytime, anyplace, any pace basis.
This leads to diversity, choice, adaptivity, and personalization. Children today can take courses that would otherwise be inaccessible to them due to geographic, economic, family or other reasons, such as disability, tight schedule or traveling (now young athletes, actors and musicians do not have to fall behind their class because of the tournaments, filming and tours).
Endless possibilities to personalize learning with flexible digital tools do not suggest, however, that young students can learn whatever they feel like studying, and dismiss whatever they perceive as unimportant on a whim. It is up to parents and educators to do the selection, to offer advice concerning basic knowledge and skills. By carefully selecting applications on your child’s phone, you can create a personalized and unique curriculum from which your child will benefit the most. The infographic below provides some guidelines to taking the best of what newest technology has to offer for kids’ education.