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Technology in the classroom…A balancing act!

In the dynamic landscape of our digital age, the interactions among teens/young adults with digital platforms have undergone a profound shift. The latest study from the Pew Research Center reveals that apps such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram are becoming staples in the lives of younger generations. In Wesch’s video, we are offered a glimpse into the profound impact of online communities, particularly focusing on YouTube. Wesch’s exploration sheds light on the transformation of human connections in the digital age, emphasizing the creation of relationships across the globe. This video encourages us all to consider the implications for the future of education and the imperative role of educators in guiding students. This ever-growing trend shows the urgency for educators to evolve alongside the digital world to shape the future of education effectively.

As a former student, I recall a time when the art of building connections and friendships was entirely an in-person affair. The rise of technology had just begun, yet the personal touch of face-to-face communication remained my preferred approach. Back then, technology’s role in school was confined to the computer lab or at home; our interactions were direct and actively engaged, highlighting how traditional education models were firmly rooted in physical presence, with online relationships left on the periphery. But now, technology has unleashed an unmatched potential for global connections. It’s become increasingly important to model/guide our students toward forging meaningful online relationships but also how to navigate the digital world.

list of 20 Tech tips for teacher
Image is from: https://shakeuplearning.com/blog/top-20-tech-tips-for-teachers/

During our class discussions, one solution proposed was the creation of a monitored online space for young students to interact. Such a space could create digital friendships and serve as a platform for teaching crucial lessons on responsible online behavior. However, there’s a potential downside: the risk of superficial connections under the watchful eye of teachers. Reflecting on my junior high years at a private school where laptops were provided and monitored, I witnessed how some students would push boundaries, seek attention, or resort to insincerity, sometimes resulting in negative online interactions off school grounds. I hope that a well-designed space for student interaction will promote healthy digital relationships, as opposed to becoming a battleground for testing limits.

The Pew Research Center’s findings point to a pressing need for digital literacy and responsible online engagement, placing educators in the role of mentors. Introducing mediated online connection platforms in early education could instill the value of a positive online presence well before the teen years. Yet, educators face challenges, such as managing screen time and guiding students through the vast, unregulated online world. Balancing screen time with physical movement, an element I’m passionate about as a graduate in Health and Physical Education is essential. A moderated approach could offer insights into student digital habits and help integrate physical activity into learning.

This responsibility extends to educators and parents alike, tasked with the balance of integrating technology, teaching online skills, managing screen time, and maintaining physical activity levels. The solution is not straightforward and requires a willingness to embrace change and stay attuned to students’ needs. As technology advances, the best strategy is to remain adaptable, continuously seeking what’s best for our students. After all, as they learn and grow, so do we as educators in this ever-evolving educational landscape.

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