Any educator can tell you that one of the most profound realisations you have after a few years of teaching is that different students learn differently. This may seem obvious, but generations of teachers and administrators have ignored this fact when it comes to thinking about how we educate our children and young adults. There’s been much written about how some of us are visual learners while others of us are kinaesthetic learners who have to get up, touch something and move around to truly understand. This information, combined with the simple fact of us all just being individuals who differ from each other quite considerably, implies that education must account for these varieties.
There are many reasons why the ability of our educational tools to cope with the diversity of individuals that the tools purport to help is absolutely crucial. I’ll go through a few of them in this blog post. But most of all, I’m interested in exploring the question of how technology can address some of the challenges we’ve traditionally faced in the classroom, either as students or as educators, to ensure we aren’t shoving students into boxes and teaching them in a one-size-fits-all way.
Learning at Your Own Pace
Students learn at different paces. Some pick up reading really quickly and are devouring stories by the age of five. Others teach themselves how to code on lazy Sunday afternoons. Students are often inclined towards certain areas more than others, but that doesn’t mean their teachers should give up on them developing diverse skill sets, particularly at a young age.
Closing the Confidence Gap
Technology can be brilliant here as game-like learning tools progress at the student’s own pace, which essentially means that whatever the pace the student is learning at is just fine. A five year old can learn how to code very, very slowly, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The effect on one’s confidence of being the worst one in Science class is hard to underestimate, particularly in children. It’s a well-known truth that when students perceive themselves to be bad at something in comparison to their peers, they are more inclined to give up. Technology provides a huge opportunity here to close gaps and encourage traditionally underrepresented groups to learn, regardless of what their environment expects of them. Tools like Code Academy and Vocabulary.com place a heavy emphasis on acquiring skills. Students can acquire these skills regardless of who’s championing them to do so and doing so can perhaps give them a little bit of an edge for the classroom.
Finding Fun in Different Ways
It can be a challenge to make learning fun, and what one student finds fun, another will detest. Just try putting on a documentary in your classroom and observe as half the class is riveted and the other half is falling asleep. The sleeping students just aren’t engaged in that way. The interactive, personalized journeys that edtech products can provide come a lot closer than many tried and tested methods to making students enthusiastic about how, when, and why they learn. Making learning personal means making learning fun. And that’s a good thing for both educators and students.
Technology is hardly a panacea for the problems that plague society and education alike. However, it can be leveraged in incredible ways to benefit the education landscape, which is why we built BridgeU. It can also solve many of the problems associated with uniform curricula that don’t account for students’ quirks, preferences, and tendencies. And as edtech becomes more sophisticated, the opportunities will only grow larger.