In elementary school, we were set a thought exercise: what would our children’s classrooms look like? Outlandish suggestions ranged from robot teachers to replacing the dusty chalkboards with screens. Yes, the interactive whiteboard seemed eons away but we clearly didn’t blink at the notion of unplugging our teacher!
Access to technology then, was the teacher rolling the overhead projector or VCR carts into the classroom. In contrast, our children are digital natives!
They’ll never understand the pain of writing a 10-page Shakespeare coursework by hand and getting it back for three revisions. They’ll never know not being able to email or give their work in on memory sticks.
While our elementary school technology experience was a chance to turn off the lights and take a nap; as parents, we now have the daunting task of preparing digital natives for the unknown—with zero idea which careers will suffer extinction, as a result of automation. It has always been imperative that children have the basic skills: reading, writing and arithmetic, but now and moving forward, a familiarity with technology is as basic as it gets. In the future coding might be a blue-collar practicality passed around the playground like we played cat’s cradle! It is perspicuous that creativity, quality communication skills and the mastery of logic and spatial thinking are crucial for giving today’s children that extra edge. They need to be thinking more broadly than ever before and that is the new reality we all face.
The goal is students who consume, communicate and create digital content thoughtfully and effectively. It’s not simple to teach creativity, logic and spatial thinking—but engaging logic games played repeatedly can sharpen the mind and develop these abilities. Home apps that expand on the classroom curriculum are great auto-didactic experiences—the child takes responsibility for mastering the app and can teach others to do the same—encouraging leadership and communication skills at the same time.
Technology has also automated processes for the teacher. Unlike the longed for 1987 video session, IT needs to be integrated in ways that combine thoughtful educational strategy and collaboration between child, parent and teacher.
Jewish Interactive’s Ji Tap platform, together with its Insights component, enables teachers to save the trees and effortlessly create fun, interactive lessons that can be used during class, to set preparatory homework or for quizzes and assessments. (You can view a quick tutorial here.) The teacher receives instant data on participating players and their performance; this feedback allows teachers to engage students who wouldn’t normally participate in class. The teacher can spot weak areas, and goals can be adjusted sooner rather than later; the child can be set an individual assignment and parents updated at the click of a button.
The delivery of education has changed dramatically; we can support course-learning objectives by going global in ways that are light years away from a globe or Encarta CDs circa 1993. Ji Tap with its Insights component puts Ms Frizzle back in the driving seat with the magic dashboard she needs to build imaginative, engaging lessons—fast! The teacher can also access and use thousands of free lessons and project-based learning courses created daily by experienced educators worldwide.
Wouldn’t you get on the yellow bus?