Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Technology based Education needs an Update

Students have been left behind over the course of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. To stop a generation of lost learners, and improve the future of education we need to rethink how technology works in schools

The pandemic and lockdowns have had a monumental effect on the world’s youth. Not only have students missed out on hundreds of hours of education, but they are also reeling from the mental health impacts of the pandemic. Both of these have led to disastrous learning outcomes for students from primary to high school.

Outcomes become worse for students from low-income households, as well as black and brown students. According to NPR high poverty schools were closed for 5.5 more weeks than low and middle-poverty schools, meaning they stayed with remote learning longer. Without the resources to get online like a laptop or high-speed connection, many students of colour fell even farther behind.

Remote learning throughout the pandemic has been ad hoc and greatly mismanaged. It is no wonder numerous students are now failing their classes. When the COVID-19 pandemic began schools closed and remote learning was meant to replace class time. With little knowledge of how digital technology can engage students, teachers regurgitated their in-person teaching methods online. But that is not what ed-tech is for.

With a proper digital platform and an understanding of how digital interfaces can add holistic pedagogy to education, students can improve their learning outcomes while improving their mental wellness. It is not enough to add digitalization to the classroom but to reform how youth are taught.

Failures of Digital Learning

The problem with remote learning has little to do with technology but is part of a larger problem in education, students’ attention. Nick Morgan of Psychology Today explains further: “Online, attention spans do seem to have become shorter—seven to 10 minutes seems about right”

Morgan, a Ph.D. in psychology went on to talk about whether the pandemic and more online time have impacted our attention. “The quick answer is ‘No.’ What has changed is not our attention spans, but our ability to engage with new ideas. We’re stressed out and information-overloaded, and that’s not changing any time soon.”

And that makes sense. The digital age has given us the tools to learn more, but all that information can overload students’ brains, affecting their mental health. Students who use digital technology often, eat unhealthily and do not exercise increase their chances of mental health issues.

 But even without it, attention spans cannot keep up with our current education model. If a teacher lectures a class for about an hour it is an impossible task to ask students, much less primary-aged kids to stay engaged.

Moving from that lecture model, into an interactive learning model (IMM) can best take advantage of technology to improve learning outcomes. But what is IMM, and how can we as educators move towards a new style?

Interactive Learning Model


An interactive learning model is a system of education where learners are empowered to actively problem-solve issues independently or in groups through play, discovery and yes… lots of mistakes.

Some of the paradigms included in IMM are game-based learning, makerspace lessons, and community-based initiatives. All these features act to give students the keys to their own education and redefine teachers as guides rather than lecturers.

Schools already implement some sort of interactive learning in schools. I remember learning about the constellations by sewing Ursa Minor into a pillow. To this day I remember how Ursa Minor looks, and how to sew. At its best interactive learning teaches us multiple skills at once

But where does technology come in?

Technology as a Solution

IMM has never taken over the education space as most classes continue to mainly use the lecture style of teaching. When classes moved online, teachers had to rely on the lecture model exclusively. Many of them had no training in ed-tech, and how it can be used interactively. The consequences have been bad enough to convince more educators we need a new approach.

Since then education technology has been at the forefront of a new IMM-heavy paradigm shift. Now it is the ed-tech industry reshaping learning. With better implementation, many hope technology can bring our students back from the brink. But technology is just how we educate, the other side of the coin is also what we teach that is important.

Source Code Academy in Toronto is one space that takes a community-based approach to teach kids STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) to solve issues in their communities. By focusing technology on societal problems the academy hopes to attract students and keep their attention. Following the lead of innovative ed-tech and community groups we can bring a new education to our post-pandemic society.