I’m sure most teachers are tired of constantly hearing about the future of education, been promised technology that will solve all their problems. So, in this blog I want to look at what technologies are available today to help teachers prepare their students for the future. Today’s students live in very uncertain times but a lot of education is preparing them for a now obsolete world. Of the students starting school todays 65% of them will end up at jobs that haven’t even been invented yet! So, what can teachers do now to prepare their students today for the technological future they will find themselves in? Here are 5 tips you can implement now:
1) Incorporate video into your classes
We all intuitively know that video is a great way to consume content but when it comes to teaching some people are still hell-bent on delivering content one medium at a time. The great thing about video is that it is a fusion of mediums, so it can appeal to the different ways in which we learn. We only retain 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear and 30% of what we see but put these together, as video does, and we retain 50% of what we engage with. In the past video was scarce but there are 48 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute! So start incorporating video into your class, a simple and great resource to start off with is Khan Academy.
2) Incorporate computer games into your classes
If there is one medium more engaging than video, it is video games. We retain 80% of what we experience personally and video games can provide such experiences. Video games are everywhere; 9 out of 10 US school aged children (2-17) play electronic games. Studies show that teachers agreed that games can teach teamwork and life skills such as problem solving, communication and negotiation and also increase student motivation. Computer games stimulate the brain to produce dopamine, which helps orient attention and encourages the creation of connections between neurons; these connections are the physical basis for learning. Depending on the age group of your students the games you utilize will vary accordingly. For younger kids here is a top ten list , there are a number of different brain training games for older students but you could also use free online virtual environments such as secondlife. The realm of videos is only bound by the imagination of the teacher.
3) Design study to encourage on-the-go learning
A teacher can encourage students to study on-the-go or in bite size chunks by assigning appropriate content such as flashcards, definitions or formulas or breaking up larger content in to smaller manageable chunks. For example, instead of assigning full chapters divide a chapter into sections. The reason to do this is that it makes it easier for on-the-go learners (or mobile learners). 52% of mobile learners study in bed after waking up, 46% study in bed before they sleep, 55% when they are waiting in line, 74% when travelling, all this adds up and on average mobile learners’ study 40 minutes more each week by studying on the go. Mobile learners aren’t going to start a giant tome on the bus to school but they could handle smaller tasks. Using ExamTime or e-books would be prefect for this.
4) Start teaching digital literacy and citizenship
Digital literacy refers to how people understand the technology around them while digital citizenship is how they relate and react to it. The picture here shows the reality of the internet, a scuba diver laying fiber optic cable on the ocean floor! When we are watching videos or playing games we can forget this reality; that what we do on the internet can have repercussions in the ‘real’ world. Many online teens’ activities today could have detrimental effects for them. 42% of teens said they have posted personal information online. Students need to know that everything we do online, good or bad, leaves a digital footprint. 89% of employers use some form of social media for recruitment, so being unaware of their digital footprint could cost your students a job down the line! Teaching digital literacy and citizenship shows students how to be aware of this, from the simple tasks of email etiquette to the serious task of stopping cyber-bullying. One immediate step you could implement is to set up a class blog where students can learn and showcase their growing awareness of their digital citizenship. For more info on how to start teaching digital literacy and citizenship check out Common Sense, a not-for profit organisation intended to promote digital citizenship.
5) Flip your classroom
A flipped classroom is a reversed teaching model that delivers instruction at home through interactive, teacher created or shared videos so that ‘homework’ can be discussed in the classroom. This gives the teacher more time to spend one on one with students and enables using this time to discuss any areas of difficulty a student encountered the night before. All this helps build a stronger student/ teacher relationship which in turn increases collaborative learning in the classroom. It also allows students to master a topic in their own time. The collaborative nature of the class helps study as we are 70% more likely to retain what we discuss with others. One study at Clintondale High School, Detroit showed that before they flipped a class 50+% of freshman failed English and 44% of freshman failed math, after the flip only 19% of freshman failed English and 13% of freshman failed math. So incorporate this approach into your class as much as possible and see if you notice an improvement in student understanding and engagement. For a quick overview of how to flip your class, check here. There are numerous sources of information on flipping your class so make sure you research properly on your own first.
By incorporating these aspects in to your class today you will be better preparing your students for the world they will find themselves in when they graduate. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching someone on their first year of school or their last; you need to stop waiting for the future of education to arrive in a nice neat parcel and avail of the technologies you can use today! Your students will thank you for it.