Five years ago, ed-tech in the classroom meant “flipped classrooms” where “contact time” became time for the teachers to facilitate questions from students and “homework” meant learning concepts through videos and notes provided by the teacher beforehand.
The true power of ed-tech in the classroom now lies in its use for self-directed learning. Students who are comfortable with content can choose to continue learning new content that interests them, and they can progress through the content at their own pace. While the South African curriculum means continued centralised control over the time spent on sections, as well as specifically what content is covered, educational technology can empower students to cover the specified content in more depth, and at a faster rate. This means that outcomes can be highlighted at the beginning of the week, and those students capable of achieving those outcomes without educator input, can do so. Thus we develop the skills of collaboration in the classroom, and allow students to improve their communication skills through a platform that they find exciting and engaging.
This allows the educator the time and flexibility within the classroom to remediate and develop students that are not on grade level. Time and again, educational research highlights how many South African children are left behind through curriculum structure and other realities of our context. Using ed tech as a remediation tool in the classroom is empowering for students who usually feel excluded and demotivated by their experiences in the classroom. There is a space created for teachers to build meaningful mentor relationships with these students as they encourage the struggle of learning difficult concepts and guide students through their learning process. These students then become capable of the same skills development as their more academic peers, and thus are afforded the same opportunities in the job market one day.
The world is changing increasingly quickly, and the work environment in which our children will find themselves is not yet within the scope of our imagination. We should be using technology in classrooms to develop the skills that will be necessary in this workplace. As we move away from traditional methods in a variety of industries, it makes sense to use education as a pioneer in developing the skills needed to adapt in the 21st century. We should be teaching coding, application use and information filtering using technology because these are the skills our children will need to become adaptable.
Products like School in a Box allow teachers to encourage students to develop real-life skills within the structure of any curriculum, using the kind of technology that students find desirable, and exciting.