When technology is used effectively in the classroom, it can give students the confidence to tell their own stories, as Misbah Gedal explains
I was never shy at school. I was always the first to put my hand up to answer a question, the first to volunteer to speak in front of the class, and the first to offer an opinion on the lesson topic. I was, however, self-aware enough to notice that my behaviour could easily end up dominating a class discussion and prevent my more introverted classmates from getting involved and sharing their own thoughts.
In my role at Wakelet, I’ve been able to speak to many teachers, and it’s been fascinating to find out how they create classrooms in which every child has a voice and can be heard. I’ve noticed that things have changed a lot since I was at school and teachers now try to treat their students as people rather than children. Students are being empowered and encouraged to personalize their learning – a vast improvement, in my opinion. Tech tools like Flipgrid and Wakelet are helping teachers give all of their students an equal voice.
Combining technology and teaching
I recently had an amazing conversation with Tracy Duckett, Principal of Ecole James S. McCormick School in Alberta, Canada. She explained to me that the teachers at her school spend as much time developing emotional intelligence in their students as they do on academics. Classes are designed to help students solve problems, develop social skills and create meaningful relationships with their classmates.
When it comes to bringing technology into the classroom, Tracy spoke about two different types of tools; some that replace books and worksheets and some that really engage students and challenge them to do something new. She believes there isn’t much point bringing technology into the classroom if it just makes it easier to facilitate traditional teaching. In this case, you only enhance the way teaching is delivered rather than the teaching itself. Instead, Tracy looks for technology that helps develop skills that are often overlooked. Skills like collaboration, creativity and co-operation that encourage a student’s imagination and challenge them to look at the world a little differently.
I’ve found that the most vibrant and successful classrooms allow their students to propel their own learning. That isn’t to say that the teachers simply hand control over to the students (that would inevitably cause chaos), instead they remove the linear restrictions of a traditional classroom in favor of an open, interactive environment that helps to develop skills.
Tell your own story
It’s also an environment that encourages students to tell their own stories. When students feel able to communicate their own stories with their teachers and classmates, it can produce some amazing, memorable learning experiences. At Wakelet, we want to make it easier for them to tell these stories through curation. Rather than having to create content themselves, students can collect content from across the web and talk about why it means something to them; an exercise that helps them think critically. Our Flipgrid integration means that students can even add their own Flipgrid responses to collections, explaining why they’ve chosen to include certain pieces of content.
One of my biggest takeaways from my conversations with teachers is the fact that no amount of technology can compete with real human connection. Bringing technology into the classroom to keep children occupied or get their attention is rarely effective. Instead, technology needs to be supplemented with support from teachers, effective teaching and – most importantly – purpose. It needs to be clear from the outset why students are using the technology. After all, without a purpose, bringing tech into today’s classrooms will be no more effective than wheeling in the TV was 20 years ago.