Today’s students are not the students of yesteryear. For the past decade, teachers have struggled to find a way to reach the technology-saturated students that attend their classes.
Children are being exposed to technology younger and younger. There apps that soothe a fussy toddler and help them sleep. This means less physical interaction with their parents and more dependence on electronics.
By the time a child enters kindergarten, they have been continually exposed to video games, television, smartphones, and electronic toys. When they enter a classroom, they are pre-conditioned to have their brains electronically stimulated. They may have trouble learning to socialize and retaining information is more difficult without the use of a “save” button.
Some studies show that a student who uses computers and tablets tested lower on test scores. This would back up the idea that they are not absorbing or processing the knowledge they are getting. Of course, the other side of the equation is we must stay current with technology if the student is going to perform in their college years.
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Finding the balance
The key is finding the balance. It is not about omitting technology. We all embrace technology. But just as the instructor uses technology as a tool to enhance their knowledge and skills, the student must learn to depend on his own abilities first. What the teacher must watch for and embrace
Until technology, a child that learns differently than other kids often fell behind. Since they have no way of communicating that they don’t understand how point A relates to point B, it appeared that they were slow learners and poor students. This child follows a different mental roadmap.
Give your students a project theme. Require them to begin at a certain place on the computer (Wikipedia is a good choice). Part of the assignment is to write down every place they clicked on the computer as they progressed to complete the report. While many students will “travel” in the same general pattern, you will identify the student who does not. He will go in a totally different direction. His thought process, abilities to hold a clear picture of where he is supposed to end is altered. This is the student that learns differently. He is not slow, unmotivated, or unable. He needs help training his problem-solving abilities. This is a huge tool for you, and helping him now will save his academic career.
Resist the urge to “help” the kids find their way. Be the advisor, encourager, and guide them but let them find the answers with technology. Then have them actually write how they found the information and what they gained from the experience. This is the gateway between technology and mental learning. If you have questions, you can find out here, how to address them.
Once you have identified students that learn differently, you can address that with one-on-one teaching methods. When you identify the tech-savvy student who abuses the use of computers in order to push through, you can apply more traditional methods of teaching with him and remove the computer crutch.
The teacher who excels in teaching the class of today embraces technology as they would a teacher’s assistant. It is all about balance and control. Teachers have the power to control both.