By Nancy Weinstein
We remain optimistic that technology has the promise to transform education. Yet we start 2017 with a sobering reminder that technology’s impact has been slow and inconsistent. In every community, students are still struggling or disengaged, parents are anxious, and teachers are stressed.
So what do we do next? Keep trying new solutions? Give it another year?
We say it’s time to accept that technology is not the magic bullet that will save our educational system. We know technology can help make learning and teaching easier and more enjoyable. But only if we first embrace the three human elements essential to effective learning.
- Students will need to work hard to learn. There is no solution, technology or otherwise, that will change that. There’s no easy way out. So students (and adults) shouldn’t be looking for one.
- We need teachers with empathy, judgment and skill. We need, and will always need, great teachers. There is no computer algorithm that can teach most students most of the time. Technology can help teachers be more effective and efficient but in most cases it can’t teach on its own.
- Parents & caregivers need to provide an at-home environment that encourages hard work and learning. And we need you to communicate with teachers about your child’s personal situation and needs when they could affect learning. Anything more might be over-reaching and, ultimately, doing more harm than good. Anything less may be doing your child a disservice.
Technology, no matter how good, is unlikely to be effective without these three human elements. However, if we can get the human part right, technology can inspire and accelerate. Our teachers picked their favorite subject websites for your 2017 inspiration:
|CueThink||Math||CueThink is a unique site which makes great use of technology and social interactivity to develop math problem solving skills for grades K-12. Teachers choose a specific math topic, create their own problems or choose from the CueThink database, and post specific problems for a class.|
|IndyKids||Current Events||IndyKids is a great online news site that will inspire students to keep up with current events. Articles are written by child journalists ranging from ages 9-16.|
|Grammarly||Grammar||Grammarly is an excellent, albeit pricey, website to correct and improve students’ writing skills. Grammarly is a spell and grammar checker, but it is unique in that students can actually learn and improve their skills while using it. Grammarly provides a summary of potential edits by category (spelling, grammar, vocabulary, repetitive word use, etc.) and scans for plagiarism.|
|Duolingo||Foreign Languages||Duolingo is a great website to teach foreign language using a game-like approach. After choosing a target language, users engage in a series of “learning by doing” lessons.|
|Youth Voices||Writing||Youth Voices is a unique site that provides a forum for students to express their thoughts through essays and poetry on current events and topics of interest. It is designed to motivate students to write for an audience and provides them with the foundational tools to do so effectively and thoughtfully.|
|Mosa Mack Science Detective||Science||Mosa Mack Science offers engaging cartoons to teach science lessons to middle school students. Each lesson presents a single age-appropriate topic, including photosynthesis, Newton’s Laws, and food webs.|
In 2017, give up the dream of the magic bullet. Just don’t give up the dream.
Looking to set new academic goals for yourself or your students this year? Check out our goal setting guides among the many Free Resources available from Mindprint.