As we increasingly integrate various aspects of the digital landscape into our daily lives, it’s only natural that educators follow suit. What is the added value in this, and how can we use technology to innovate the learning experience?

One added perk is the lack of clutter that comes with going paper-less. Gone are the days when teachers gave out instruction sheets only to have to print out more the next day for students who lost them. With files sent electronically, teachers no longer have to take away from valuable class time to print, and students don’t have to spend their time organizing and finding papers; they can all be one search away.

The use of video games as a learning tool can be explained through the concept of metacognition. Basically, metacognition is the idea that doing a task that draws attention to the fact that you are learning enhances the learning process. Jordan Shapiro, who holds a PhD in Depth Psychology explained how exactly this works:

“Strong metacognitive functions give students an awareness, or an understanding, of their own thought processes. Metacognitive functions provide one with autonomy or control of one’s own intellectual capacity.

This matters in education because strong metacognitive functions lead to good academic skills. Through metacognitive functions, learners recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and adapt or iterate their performance accordingly.”

Shapiro went on to say that metacognition is relevant to video games because those who play the game are distanced from their avatar — an icon representing the player. This distance creates a sense of self awareness, which allows for metacognition to take place.

As far as social media goes, some of the benefits include “teaching across the curriculum, permit[ting] and encourag[ing] learning outside of school hours, enhanc[ing] and facilitat[ing] communication between students, teachers and parents, and nurtur[ing] the development of digital citizenship skills.”

Because K-12 students are all digital natives, they feel at ease on social media and many times see it as a fun outlet in comparison to traditional education tools. Integrating social media into the classroom can make for more engaged learning outside of class, integrating their personal and school lives.

What about reading on a screen versus paper? Studies show that reading on a screen causes students to recall more details, while reading on paper helps students better conceptualize “big picture” ideas. This is not meant to be a diss to digital or print reading, but rather a general blueprint of when to utilize each one.

As of now, we’re past questioning whether or not teachers will continue to integrate technology into their classrooms. The new question is if they learn to use it effectively.


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