01.The prepared parent in the digital revolution
The digital revolution has done much to reshape how our children read and learn. Essays, once handwritten, are now word-processed. Encyclopedias have yielded to online searches. And a growing number of assignments ask children to read on digital screens.
Yet as parents, how much do we know about the educational implications of this emphasis on using digital media? When it comes to educational technology, does reading on screens make it easier or harder for our children to pay careful attention to words and the ideas behind them?
Can they absorb as much as before? Or can they take in much more?
So, here’s a concern that merits consideration. How much EdTech is needed to help our children grow mentally, emotionally, and psychologically?
When we think about the educational implications of digital reading, we need to study the issue with open minds rather than preconceptions.
“Our mental health is like whack-a-mole,” said Lisa Walker, the vice president of brand and corporate marketing at Fuze, as quoted by TechCrunch. Walker, who lives in Boston but has relocated to Vermont for the pandemic, has two kids, ages 10 and 13. “One person is having a good day. One person is having a bad day, and we’re just going throughout the family to see who needs help.”
What does this even mean to us parents?
Families where parents work long hours outside the home or work multiple jobs have it even tougher because resources are limited.
One major hurdle for us parents is balancing a decrease in live learning with an uptick in “do it at your own pace” learning.
Walker says she is frustrated by the limited amount of live interaction that her 10-year-old has with teachers and classmates each day. Once the one hour of live learning is done, the rest of the school day looks like him sitting in front of a computer. Think pre-recorded videos, followed up by an online quiz, capped with doing homework on a Google doc.
A recent study by McKinsey and Company in the United States show that students with more than 60 minutes per week of device use achieved higher academic results, a metric that varies country to country.
And why is that?
Maybe one reason is because Edtech has been booming over the last few months. Investors are so confident that homeschooling might become a trend. Hence, more apps and software are within a child’s reach with a simple tap.
But as tired parents juggle work, family and sanity all day, nearly every day, they say Edtech is not a solution for all education gaps right now. Parents across the globe are struggling with homeschooling, even when working from home.
There lies a problem. Many members of the generation raising toddlers and tweens don’t fully understand educational technology. For years, we were told that screen time is bad, that we need to limit it to an hour a day…. now we know better.
Today, technology is part of every child’s daily life, and many are naturals at keyboarding, word processing, Internet research, multimedia production, social sharing, navigating interactive e-books, and even coding. And beyond their proficiency, many children express significant interest in tech that leads them to pursue learning about—and through—these platforms.
Technology is proving to be valuable in support of reading and writing instruction, universal access to instructional materials, assessment, professional collaboration, and home-to-school communication. Some parents, educators, and researchers say that technology is a game changer in how we teach and how children learn and read.
Many parents and teachers worry that spending so much time with digital formats will shred kids’ attention spans—the average 8 to 12-year-old spends about six hours a day in front of a screen, and teenagers spend more than nine.
The change we are seeing tells us not that those kids can’t pay attention to things, though; it’s that they’re not as interested in paying attention to things.
They have less patience for being bored. What digital activities have in common is that something interesting is guaranteed with little effort from the user. And if boredom sets in, another interesting experience is very easy to obtain. Reading’s payoff often comes after some effort and maybe even a little boredom in the beginning. But the slower-paced pleasure comes with more satisfaction in the end.
02.Enter educational tech!
Play and interactive learning are core drivers in children’s creative, educational, and social development. While technology equips us with an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine learning, a crowded market of apps, media, and toys makes it challenging to find the right products for the right time and purpose.
Edtech, also known as kidtech, simplifies the discovery process for educators and parents by curating special collections of products that utilize technology to promote your child’s holistic development.
There are integrated customizable search features to help parents find the best and newest learning platforms to unlock your child’s creativity, skills, and potential. This is a whole new world of play for you and your child.
Edtech celebrates startups that use technology to help your child’s entire development. From on-demand homework help to finding the best places to take your kids, there are apps designed to support modern families. What’s more, there are hands-on activities, games, and robots designed to empower your child to learn child basic programming skills on their own. And tactile interaction, app-powered development trackers, and reinvented child monitors help parents navigate their child’s first three years.
This guided experience gives children the opportunity to make independent choices in their own learning and to create their own physical and/or digital footsteps with special meaning to them.
Creating a playful learning environment with technology helps children learn the basics of reading and understanding. Creating engaging atmospheres is an opportunity to tap into children’s natural ability to learn through reading, while utilizing the transformational power of technology to develop learning experiences.
Using technology to enhance what we know works with education — such as learning and reading through play —will not only help revolutionize education systems, but also ensure our children are empowered to thrive now and in the future.