Digital Opportunities

Digital Opportunities In Schools For Students

By Ivy Villaluna

If you look at your cellphone today compared to those of 20 years ago, there is a major difference in terms of its usability and features. Why is our curriculum the same as it was 20 years ago? 

Paul Skippen led a zoom meeting with professionals which focused on important topics that the government and school boards have failed to address. On October 18, 2022, panelists: Sophia Tate, Tara Carmen French, Angela Moch, and Paul Jacobelli discussed digital opportunities that students are missing out on.

 In this current economy, workplaces are now expecting their employees to have basic knowledge on digital literacy. Angela Moch, a GRC Consultant School’s Audit, stated that students need to be empowered and learn to use technology effectively. Nowadays children are exposed to technology at a very young age. Even babies are using technology! The younger generation’s primary use of technology is entertainment. As this generation grows older, they may become numb to its importance and productivity. Children will lack the knowledge of opportunities that the digital world offers. This may lead to a bunch of kids falling behind to those that are confident in using technology as a tool. Tara Carmen French, from Artemis Assessment & Treatment Centre, states that her clients can easily identify their devices as toys but will have a difficulty in finding ways to be productive with it. She added, “This is why it is just appropriate to introduce digital technologies to education.”. With digital technology in schools, students are able to understand that technology used for entertainment can also be used to help them achieve work. 

Gaming has evolved with technology and is becoming more widespread. Having said that, what if we combine learning and the gamification attributes to create a different kind of teaching environment? With this children may become more engaged with material that is being taught to them. If they are engaged, they can retain information and gain transferable skills that will help them in the future. This will be especially useful for students that find it hard to pay attention in class. “It does not matter how great a teacher you are, you are losing that battle” said Paul Jacobelli as he explained how there are a lot of digital stimuli that surround students and how teachers are competing against them. Instead of going against technology, it would be better to lean on technology to change kids’ perspective on what would normally be considered boring content. As Paul mentioned his meeting with a principal on why there are no support applications and gamification of learning in schools. The discussion concluded that it was the adults who needed to adjust, since gamification is the new optimal way for kids to learn.

To add on, Tara mentioned that there is research being done related to this aspect. Specifically, for ADHD. Adults developing these kinds of material for children find that their material usually misses the mark. Instead, by working alongside students we can understand them better as a learner and create better material. In addition, there are companies developing adaptive learning or Artificial Intelligence that would help improve learning. Students would learn according to their needs. Students may have different learning journeys, but will still arrive at the same solution. To the students who have a hard time understanding the lessons. Technology will be there to observe student’s learning progression and adjust learning. This is better than the alternative which is being left behind. The fact that technology can adjust to fit student needs will greatly improve a student’s progression. However, an important question arises: “Does school have the infrastructure to support this technological improvement?”

Schools offer different opportunities to learn which enhance our kids’ technological skills, like coding or photoshop classes. However, these are only electives which are optional and offered on a limited slot. Sometimes, a student who wants to take the course would be unable to because of their time constraints. Angela suggests that these courses should be more standardized similar to Math and English courses. In addition to that, schools may have devices like laptops and iPad for students who need them, but they are not enough to be provided to all the students. So, embedding technology in the classroom is not the only thing that should be addressed but also how schools can make it so that students will have access to them.

If a teacher is behind in technology, then that classroom would be behind as well. Students grew up with technology and so teachers who have a hard time using technology are unable to engage their students.

There are a lot of devices being developed to help students with a new way of learning. However, if there is not enough support from their household or school, it will never be effective for them. As technology evolves, we hope that we also see the same with our curriculum as the future of our children are at risk.