One of the biggest impacts the pandemic has had on education is to highlight the lack of familiarity with technology for both teachers and students as they were forced to learn remotely.
Teachers have now experienced how technology can help lessons be delivered in a more engaging, interactive and dynamic way.
Similarly, students have developed new skills, and benefited from a more personalised interaction with educators.
Right now, whether schools have fully returned to in-person teaching or if they’re operating in a blended environment, there is an opportunity to reimagine digital learning for the long term.
Why is this important?
Whether people work in an office, on the frontline or in a factory, its hard to find a job these days that doesn’t interact with technology in some way. School has always been about giving the new generations the knowledge they need to thrive, and today that means introducing technology into the classroom and building students’ digital competency from an early age.
But what are the barriers to schools making this more permanent shift, and how can they be overcome?
Adjusting to the digital environment
One of the biggest – and possibly most obvious – barriers for schools to overcome is the lack of access to devices. School funding doesn’t always allow for students to have a device each, which can inhibit the experience, but that’s not to say that schools shouldn’t aim for this to be the reality. Introducing digital literacy from an early age is critical for preparing students for the future, and so every institution should consider putting a plan and timeline in place for achieving this as a goal.
Additionally, going digital comes with considerations around cybersecurity, data protection, privacy and people’s social responsibility online. The key here again is that schools should be preparing students for the future, and whether it’s recognising a cyber threat, creating a sense of responsibility around one’s own digital presence or even helping create a healthy relationship between devices and the real world – educators have a crucial role to play.
The final critical barrier is digital literacy amongst teachers. For many, it can be an overwhelming process as they will firstly need to teach themselves and be confident in how technology should be played into lessons, before bringing it to the classroom. To address this, schools can adopt a digital literacy programme that includes the regular retaining of staff, create teacher forums dedicated to encouraging and sharing knowledge on using technology in the classroom and also bring teachers into the decision making process when it comes to deciding which software they should implement.
The benefits of teaching digital literacy
One of the biggest benefits of introducing technology to the classroom is the student-teacher engagement that comes with it. Lessons can be made more interactive by adding video, audio and/or a transcript. Students can receive real-time feedback, giving them not only the clarity of explanations but also helping students understand the tone and emotion behind what can be written on a piece of paper, or said online.
It can also enable teaching to become more inclusive. There has long been a question of how educators can embrace technology to empower all voices in the classroom to be heard. We’ve seen with our own customers how when the right technology is used and meaningfully integrated into lesson designs, educators can create safe learning environments for all students to be able to express themselves and for teachers to get to know their learners on a more personal level.
Overall, the long-term benefits of teaching digital literacy far outweigh the drawbacks. Not only does being digitally literate allow students to be socially responsible and aware, it also allows them to partake in critical thinking when facing the online world. In this everchanging digital environment, schools remain responsible for making sure the children of today are fully equipped for future careers and lifestyles that are already is underpinned by technology, and the earlier that journey can start the better.
Hengjie Wang, CEO and Co-founder of Kami