Students using educational technology in class has long been a point of discussion, but with the prevalence of learning apps and digital methods of study higher than ever, the question is no longer should, but how, it can be incorporated into the classroom.
There are a number of benefits for using learning apps at school. They can be fun and engaging for students - more so than regular worksheets and textbooks – and can enable them to focus and learn faster. It enhances the child’s tech skills which helps them prepare for the future, especially in our rapidly growing digital world. And best of all, with instant feedback and a simplified collection of grades and materials, it’s much easier for teachers and parents to manage!
Of course, there are always downsides. Kids can be easily distracted by the computers and iPads, it doesn’t encourage patience and persistence like regular work does, and it’s highly likely that there will be tech issues, whether it being low battery power or poor Wi-Fi.
But using technology in schools extends far beyond kids using iPads to learn. Canadian app FreshGrade allows teachers to record their student’s learning achievements, and send them instantly to parents; and apps like Remind, Buzzmob and Class Messenger allow swift communication like memos, reminders and upcoming deadlines between school and home.
Technology in classrooms, regardless of personal opinions, is here to stay. (Some Queensland primary schools are introducing coding and robotics subjects from as early as Grade One!) But rather than be staunchly against it, teachers and parents should learn to embrace it and apply it to the child’s needs, in moderation. For starters, kids should have no more than two hours of screen time a day, and it should be balanced with regular work in order to avoid over-stimulation and lags in personal creativity.
Also try and identify what kind of learner your child is, and what they enjoy – every student is unique and has different learning methods and capabilities, so make sure that using learning apps for your kids will benefit and not hinder them. If your child enjoys the use of apps and you feel it encourages their learning, then make it a focal part of their studies. However, if the student is quite adept and content with working the ‘old school’ way, then use the apps in moderation.
And, of course, it all depends on the subjects. Personally, I find reading off a screen detrimental to my own understanding, but I can imagine tricky maths problems and geometry puzzles would be much more enjoyable on a colourful app. But it’s completely up to the child – work out what subjects the student could use some help with and download the relevant apps accordingly.
So, teachers and parents – what’s your opinion on using learning apps in the classroom and at home?
Lauren is the owner of MPT, a primary school teacher, tutor and Mum to a nearly 2 year old son.