The younger generation is already being described as digital natives, and with good reason. In 2016, broadband network equipment company Sandvine reported that the average U.S. household contains an average of seven internet-connected devices.
As well as being a useful learning aid, technology is playing a vital role in equipping our kids with the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow. So, how exactly is educational technology evolving, and how are teaching methods evolving with it?
The new digital curriculum
Given that computers now impact almost every aspect of our daily lives, computer literacy is being recognized as a must-have skill for today’s students. Denver Public Schools, for example, have launched an award-winning digital curriculum across each of its 185 locations to encourage understanding around digital information systems.
Digital learning trends
For many parents of school-age students, the back-to-school shopping list will now include a tablet or laptop. The multitude of software and apps available makes it possible for students to learn using systems that are tailored to their interests and learning style.
A study carried out by the American Psychological Association found that playing video games can offer a range of benefits for young minds, including improved problem-solving skills, memory, spatial awareness and perception. The ‘fun factor’ of certain problem-solving games can also make students more attentive, engaged and prepared to learn from their mistakes.
Technology can also help students for whom traditional learning methods are out of reach. For example, videoconferencing apps can help bridge the gap between teachers and remote students, and most smart devices have speech recognition software that can be used by students who find writing difficult or frustrating.
Preparing for the future
A 2016 White House report on the future of work predicts that up to 47 percent of U.S. jobs could become obsolete within the next two decades thanks to artificial intelligence. Automation is already replacing manual labor and other repetitive jobs, while demand for workers with entrepreneurial, STEM, creative and social skills is set to grow.
Not every child will go on to become a programmer, engineer or data scientist – and technology is unlikely to substitute for social interaction and face-to-face teaching. But by helping students solve the IT puzzle from an early age, today’s teachers are seeing them gain the skills they need to actively engage in the process of shaping their preferred futures.
How is your school utilizing digital technology in the classroom?