top button

How Edtech Can Boost Your Social Mobility

0 votes
20 views

Brookings Institute has determined that “The conventional thinking among economists is that income inequality provides incentives for individuals to invest more in order to achieve a higher income position in society, but …  if low-income youth view middle-class life as out of reach, they might decide to invest less in their own economic future.”

Without intervention, economically disadvantaged youth may give up on their social mobility, and yet many of these students may not realize that they have access to the one tool that can help them boost their social mobility: edtech.

Low socioeconomic status youth thrive when they have a supportive network that encourages their progress and offers new alternatives. Ultimately, it’s social capital that makes a difference in children’s lives because social mobility increases the likelihood of personal success.

What about college?

Edtech can boost social mobility by allowing for informed decision-making, especially when it comes to higher ed.

Most middle and high schools tout the importance of getting a college degree. It’s the right choice for many students because a college or university degree can increase social capital. Economically disadvantaged youth may not realize that they could finance their education with loans. Furthermore, some of the loans could be forgiven, depending on career and location choices after college.

On the other hand, college might not be the right choice for every student, regardless of socio-economic status, but a student who understands what’s available can make better career decisions.

Getting in

Educational technology makes understanding the process easier than ever for students considering college. Students can search for colleges and universities online to compare programs, entrance requirements, and even the average salaries of graduates.

In addition, youth can take virtual field trips with ExploreColleges and even keep track of their applications through the common application process and scholarships with apps like Scholarship Owl.

Staying in

Students can continue to boost their social mobility with apps that help them catch up with peers. For example, English Language Learners can use online dictionaries to assure comprehension, and they also may want to make use of scholarly notation apps like EasyBib or keep track of their schedules and class notes with Evernote.

Moving up

For some students, using edtech to boost social mobility may be as simple as learning how to use the tools in their hands.

Digital mobile devices have made learning finger-tip accessible. Schools and teachers that encourage BYOD tech policies are helping students access social mobility channels, especially if they can assure that students who do not have mobile device access are connected during school and outside the school day.

Using social media platforms like Google Hangout can boost the likelihood of social mobility by giving youth a forum in which to chat and explore new ideas with peers.

posted Jan 24 by Nongvutha

  Promote This Article
Facebook Share Button Twitter Share Button Google+ Share Button LinkedIn Share Button Multiple Social Share Button

Related Articles
+1 vote

The concept of a modern learning environment is transforming with serious attempts by schools authorities to align the physical space with modern pedagogical philosophy.

This is also mainly due to the push to support 21st-century learning opportunities. Today’s classrooms embrace technology in all aspects of learning and this has helped teachers to better engage with students and facilitate a combination of independent, small-group and whole class learning which is regarded critical to student success.

We at EdTechReview wanted to know what teachers think of edtech and technology-enabled pedagogy in and out. So we reached out to Ms Sanchita Ghosh, the Head of the Department at Sanskriti School, New Delhi to talk to her and know her perspective on edtech and the whole concept of including technology in education today.

1. How has technology opened avenues to better teaching and student learning at Sanskriti School?

EdTech is a dynamic tool which can be used to leverage learning opportunities that were hitherto unavailable to both teachers and students. It opens up new avenues for teaching old concepts and discovering new horizons of learning for the students. In Sanskriti School teachers are creatively using technology to create learning experiences that are exciting and engaging for students.

To give you an example, in the past, Geography classes involved the use of wall maps as a visual aid to display landforms. Today, Google Earth or Google Maps allow students to view topography and other geographical features in 3D. These applications can be used to create layered maps to show the relationship between ocean currents and air currents; rainfall vegetation and crops; and topography and human adaptations, to just name a few.

To take an example from literature class, students may attempt to retrace the steps of the main characters in the novel like Homer's Iliad or Odyssey by trying to the place the journey of the protagonists of these stories using Google Tour Builder.

EdTech has really revolutionised how our students work on collaborative projects. In Sanskriti School, we use the Google Suite of Apps to enable students to collaborate in real time, 24x7. It could be a simple research paper, written using Google Docs, or interactive presentations using Google Slides. EdTech has enabled students to unleash their imagination and create original content like documentaries on lesser-known monuments of Delhi, or a traditional craft.

Technology has also enabled teachers to organise and analyse student data using Google Sheets. They have been able to differentiate learning to address the wide range of students needs within the classroom. Teachers are able to create lesson modules that students can attempt at their own pace, using Google Forms.

Besides Google Apps, our teachers also use tools like EdPuzzle to create interactive videos to fully engage student participation, rather than passive watching of videos.

Flipped Classroom and Blended Learning opportunities enabled by technology have opened up more meaningful conversations between teachers and students. Teachers are now able to drive discussions which encourage critical thinking among students, give personalised attention to those who need it and offer greater challenges to gifted students. Teachers are now able to spend more time teaching and coaching and less time managing systems and doing mundane repetitive things.

2. Do the teachers in your school feel stressed or does it excite them to practice technology-enabled pedagogy? Do you see the students enjoying the mix of traditional and technology-enabled learning?

Any change brings some stress. However, not all stress is negative. The climate in Sanskriti School enables us to channel this stress towards a more positive outcome. Training opportunities are presented on a regular basis, both within and outside the school, to update teachers on different EdTech tools available and how they can be integrated into teaching and subject pedagogies. Once teachers are empowered, stress is replaced by excitement to try out new technologies and look at opportunities for tech-integration in the classroom. The school leadership largely allows and encourages teachers to choose their own EdTech paths and self-driven learning.

The biggest gainers of this approach are our students. We have definitely experienced greater student engagement. There is greater ownership of learning when teachers are using the tools which are part of the students’ everyday lives. Use of technology also addresses the different learning styles of students and the multiple intelligences they use to learn and understand new concepts.

To give a small example, we have a number of students with disabilities which make it difficult for them to write. They are provided with scribes during examinations. But most do not have scribes to help do their homework. So instead of writing, they may be given assignments which can be submitted as a voice or video files. I get a fair number of such students in my History classes of Grades 11 and 12 where it is mandatory for students to produce essay-type answers. In such cases, I encourage them to use the voice-typing feature in Google Docs to submit their written assignments. This also gives them the practice to dictate answers to scribes during examinations.

Integration of technology in education has given students different ways to demonstrate their learning. When even traditional tasks can be done in new ways, it excites the students and leads to more engagement.

3. What kind of training do you offer to teachers in your school to enhance their technology skills and start using various technologies in pedagogy?

Teacher training is taken very seriously in Sanskriti School. We have a Professional Development In-Charge who tracks different workshops and conferences available for the faculty. The process of selection is democratic, where teachers themselves choose their own learning paths. Teachers, on their own, are also on the lookout for different learning opportunities and the school supports them when they want to attend workshops outside the school.

We also have an in-house team of technology trainers. The trainers do not come from a technical background. I teach History and my two partners are Economics and Mathematics teachers, respectively. We call ourselves Techno@Heart. We conduct regular ‘big-group’ workshops on a regular basis introducing them to new tools or familiarizing them with advanced features of tools they are already familiar with. We also engage in one-on-one sessions with teachers to hand-hold them and help them work on their specific subject and pedagogical concerns.

We also encourage the sharing of ‘Best Practices in EdTech’, where teachers and invited to share their usage and experience of technology integration. This process not only offers recognition to those teachers who adopt and adapt new tools to galvanize learning in their classrooms, but it also helps create role models for other teachers. We try to keep things real and do-able for the teachers to build more confidence and comfort with the fast-changing EdTech scene.

4. Can edtech play a potential role in humanities studies just as it is seen in STEM learning?

In its current form, there seems to be an underlying assumption that STEM and Humanities subjects are in a vertical hierarchy. Both subject groups are equally important for human development. It is the humanities subjects which give a social context to STEM innovations. For example, engineers are building Metro Rail Systems in Delhi NCR and other cities, but it will be the Social Scientists who will help determine how many and at what distance stations will be placed after studying the demographics of the area being covered by the Metro lines.

And education is education. EdTech is already disrupting the classrooms. If a classroom is able to set up a Skype call or Hangout with a historian or an author (synchronous), that is a disruption. Use of AR/VR for a virtual visit to a historical or geological site is a disruption. My students and I can travel around the world without visa issues and lost baggage troubles….. Disruption. The very act of students getting involved in filmmaking or podcasting is a disruption. Using tools like FlipGrid, Padlet and social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (asynchronous) to connect classrooms from across the world to study a language like Spanish or French or Japanese, is a disruption. A similar approach can be used to design an activity for students to understand how traditionally non-English speaking communities are learning and using English in their day to day lives. This is also disruption!

Educational disruption is about encouraging students to learn and think beyond the prescribed texts. It is enabling them to identify problems and finding innovative ways to solve them. The point is to move away from traditional learning methods which are no longer preparing students or skilling them for the future.

At this point, if I ask my students this very same question, they will answer in a resounding YES!! The questions we need to ask are: Do we view disruption as something positive and something to be desired? How are we bringing this disruption to the classroom? How are we empowering and equipping both teachers and students to embrace educational disruption?

5. What challenges do you face in integrating technology in teaching?

Tech integration in education is as exciting as it challenging. In my experience as a classroom teacher and EdTech trainer I look at the following as challenges which we are faced with:

  1. Fear of failure: We have a cultural fear of failure. “The guru cannot be or better not be wrong.” Teachers are afraid that they may get stuck while in class with a technical glitch. They worry about losing class control if things don’t go according to plan or students know more about the technology than them. They fear a loss of respect.
  2. Curation of EdTech tools: This challenge is about who decides what EdTech is to be deployed in the classroom. Often it is the school leadership which makes the decision. The issue with that is it assumes one-size fits all approach. This forces teachers to use tech that does not address their subject, pedagogical or classroom needs. This results in resistance towards tech integration in general.
  3. Who pays for it: EdTech is not always cheap. So who pays? School or Teachers?
  4. Constant Training: Technology is getting updated with increasing frequency. Often teachers find it difficult to keep up. By the time they are comfortable using a certain application, it gets updated or it gets replaced by another. So regular opportunities for training is important to keep the teachers updated. School schedules are tight and it is sometimes difficult to mark out time at regular intervals for such workshops.
  5. Personalizing Learning for Students: Time or rather the lack of it can impact the ability of teachers to create modules conducive to personalised learning. Often the teachers may not have the right tools to facilitate the same. Many times, the student or the parents may challenge a teacher’s efforts to personalise learning, either over or underestimating a student’s pace of learning.
  6. The notion that tech is only meant for assessment: Most EdTech tools brand themselves as great tools for assessment. Some take it a step further to suggest diagnostic steps that can be taken post-assessment. This prevents both, the tech provider and the teachers to consider the fact the EdTech tools are great at introducing new concepts or encouraging the process of learning of that new concept.
  7. It is not meant for all subjects: Many feel that EdTech is effective in teaching only STEM subjects. I have often heard teachers say that there are no tech tools to teach Indian History, for example. This is a misunderstanding. Sure I cannot use a 3D image of the human anatomy to teach ancient Indian History, but I can use Google Street View to virtually visit the Bhimbetka caves in Madhya Pradesh. FlipGrid can be used to display Spanish or French (or any other foreign language) speaking skills of students. Instagram can be harnessed to display a student’s English writing skills. Twitter is a great instrument to train students the value of brevity in communication.

6. Any message that you wish to share with other teachers related to the impact of technology on teaching practices.

Technology is not a substitute for a teacher. But a tech-empowered teacher can definitely supplant someone who is not upgrading his/her skills. There is no right technology. There is only the right teacher. We know that good teacher can make anything work for them. They can use any situation as a teachable moment. For example, if your tech supported lesson fails to take off (due to tech or no-tech reasons) how are you setting an example for the students? Are you patient? Are you willing to take the help of your students (you can learn from anyone)? Are you flexible enough to quickly adjust to situations where everything is not under your control?

Technology will not replace the teacher. In fact, the presence of such powerful technology makes the role of the teacher even more critical. It becomes even more necessary to have the teachers guide students about constructive use of these tools, become their conscience keepers, help students stay safe online, guide students to gauge and critically analyse content before they accept anything as correct and accurate.

We are soon reaching a critical mass where education cannot be thought of without access to technology. If you are using a smartphone, if you are connected to the internet, if you are on WhatsApp, if you have a Facebook account, you are a technologically empowered teacher. You can bring about a transformation in your classroom. Your students will want to be in your class. They will ask each other, “What’s going to happen today?’’

 

About the Author

Author: Ananya Debroy Website: http://edtechreview.in

Ananya is currently working as the Content Manager at EdTechReview. She has a keen interest in Ed Tech and the ways in which it is strengthening the education sector as a whole. She is an avid reader and loves to meet relevant people & unleash new updates on various innovations in the EdTech world as it indirectly helps her pen down well-researched blogs on the niche. Follow her @AnanyaDebRoy

+1 vote

I’m going to give you a few words, and I want you to just let images that come to your mind float there for a moment: School. Campus. Student.

Now you probably have some specific images of a schoolhouse, or sprawling university campus, or a child-aged pupil wearing a backpack, chattering away with friends…. in English.

But as you’ll hear today, teachers, administrators, and educational innovators are looking for new mediums, locations, and methods to serve all sorts of students.

We start, in Boston, Massachusetts, where the oldest public, taxpayer-supported elementary school in the country was opened in 1639.

“In the real world, you can’t really tease apart math from English from Social Science from Science. And that sort of integration of content is exactly what we need, too, in our schools as well.”

Those words of wisdom we heard from Tommy Chang, the superintendent of Boston Public Schools, who was brought into BPS 2 years ago.

“I am very proud of our instructional vision, that puts academic rigour side-by-side social and emotional learning, side-by-side what we call culturally and linguistically sustaining practices,” says Chang.

“My own personal story as an immigrant to this country, unfortunately, wasn’t one that was always affirming or always sustaining. So I often say my first day in schools in America, my cultural and linguistic identity began being suppressed.”

Chang says affirming a student’s cultural identity is critical to their success. He pointed to his first day in school as an example of what not to do to new immigrant students. So it’s from this background that Superintendent Chang looks to bolster students and create equal opportunities to ensure children from all backgrounds have access to future careers. He says it’s important to make sure students are getting the academic programming in schools that will help them in the workforce.

“For example, we are creating a pathway in one of our high schools around protective services, so cybersecurity. So what the students are learning in math class would directly apply to what they will actually be doing in terms of cybersecurity.”

Connections between private companies and Boston public schools are already materializing. Superintendent Chang says that the financial company State Street is stepping up to the plate to help make BPS students workforce-ready.

“We are working with State Street here in Boston as part of a large initiative called Boston Wins. And as part of this initiative, young people are going through high school getting the mentoring they need to prepare them for college. But more importantly, they are getting work-based experiences,” says Chang.

“And these companies, because they are so invested, they are willing to actually hire our students coming out of high school and coming out of college.”

State Street is just one of these companies and has committed to hiring 1,000 Boston Public School graduates over the next 5 years.

“Now that’s a company that is putting their money where their mouth is. But if you just think about this work our companies are investing, they understand that their job force’s future is going to be our students. They are so much more willing to redesign what education looks like.”

And when it comes to redesigning, the curriculum is just one step. According to architects Brooke Travis and David Damon of Perkins + Will, classrooms today are already being prepared for the instructional needs of the future.

“Schools were once focused on knowing—now they are focused on doing,” says Brooke, a principal architect at the firm, specializing in K-12 school design. “Schools were once teacher-centered—they are now student-centred. These are great ways to visualize the classroom. Schools were about the individual—now they are about the team.”

Some of these changes have been gradually implemented over the years—like L-shaped classrooms, natural lighting, break-out spaces. But other changes are being made in preparation for the future, where the structure of a classroom might not look quite the same.  

“When you are talking about teacher-centred versus student-centred, you are looking at a traditional stand-up-and-deliver methodology, where the teacher is at the front of the classroom and all the students are in rows,” says Brooke.

“But when you talk about student-centred, the way the classroom design looks is very different, because there is no front of the classroom. Things are done… are more varied. They are more distributed exactly around the classroom.”

What education looks like is also a focus of our next guest, Peter Stokes, Managing Director of the Huron consulting group.

“It’s difficult for institutions to grow when they’re in an urban setting,” says Peter. “And so technology is one way that institutions can start to think about expanding their capacity.”

Stokes attributes the growth of online learners to this fact, emphasizing that “Many of the institutions providing access to online education are urban institutions,” although sometimes online programs emerge with rural campuses, as well, because of the ease of access.

“So the relationship between place and reach has evolved considerably over the last several decades. And for some institutions, there’s been, I think, an assumption that eventually places won’t matter at all and that in the virtual world, the place is not so significant a barrier or an issue. And that virtual presence can do away with concerns about the campus.”

But ease of access isn’t the only reason institutions are developing online programs.

“On the other hand, we do see some very forward-thinking institutions like MIT, who are explicitly thinking about the ways in which education technology can not only expand reach globally but can also inform the experience on campus and the role of place and space, classroom space in the educational process.”

So will online learning make the campus experience moot? Peter says that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

“Out of 20 million students in the U.S. higher education, only about 15% are fully online. So that leaves 85% that are having some kind of either full campus experience or some kind of hybrid, you know campus and online. So there’s no question that the campus experience is still critical.”

But, according to Peter, it’s more critical for some students than others. The same on-campus elements that help an 18–24 year old to mature as an independent adult could keep an older, working student from pursuing a degree.

What about education that takes place outside and off-line?

That’s where Christine Cunningham, founder of Engineering is Elementary, steps in. Christine’s elementary engineering program at the Museum of Science in Boston is just one of many programs facilitating learning outside of the classroom.

“Learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings or when the school vacation begins,” says Christine. “So we’re really excited that here we can work with students, with teachers, and with their families to create an ecosystem of learning where everybody is constantly thinking about how science and engineering constantly intersect with their lives.”

Christine says one exhibit that teachers, parents, or students can engage in is the Yawkey Charles River exhibit—where the river becomes a platform for learning about engineering and science.

“They might visit science in the park, which is one of our most beloved visits because it’s a playground. And as the kids engage in various activities of the playground, they learn more about the physics and the science underlying that. So exhibits are one way that students can interact while they’re here. They can also engage with programs. And we have a wide range of programs.”

Christine says that the school programs offer a lot of freedom because they can leave the Museum of Science to go out into the community.

“So we have a set of travelling programs that go out every day. The vans leave the museum bright and early, six-thirty, seven-o’clock. And drive to schools all over New England, to bring the museum to the schools. We also bring exhibits to people, schools, and teachers nationwide because they travel. For example, the Pixar Exhibit, which was here a couple years ago, is now on a worldwide tour through at least 2023, so that reaches a lot more students and teachers that way as well.”

Christine says that engineering doesn’t have to wait until kids are in middle or high school to introduce. The principles come very easily to kids—if you can engage them on their level. So she introduced a program called “Wee Engineer.”

“They actually start much younger, building block towers, or beds for their dolly. So we started to think about how we could harness some of those natural instincts, and have kids engaged in activities that would get them thinking a little bit more in the way that engineers would.”

Christine says that a big reason that the Museum of Science sought to develop Wee Engineer is to help children to think about themselves as scientists, mathematicians, and of course, engineers.

So while many institutions look for ways to diversify education delivery, does the brick-and-mortar campus still have a place on the educational landscape?

Paul LeBlanc, the president of Southern New Hampshire University, says he thinks that brick and mortar campuses will continue to be an important part of the post-high school education experience—because it’s also a coming of age experience.

“In that case, they seek a whole living and learning community in which they can redefine themselves. Reinvent themselves. Live with people like them. They want to get out from under their parents’ roof, get out of the town where everyone knows them. They’ve seen the depiction of college, and it looks pretty darn good. Not just the studies, in fact, the things they’re probably thinking about in this case are the parties, and the football games, and the organizations, and the study abroad.”

LeBlanc says that while costs might not make the traditional 4-year college experience feasible for everyone in the future, he doesn’t think it will disappear entirely.

“It’s a remarkable experience. It’s too expensive—I’m not sure we’ll continue to believe that coming of age deserves four years of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we came to a place where we evolve to a three-year residential experience, and the fourth year might be in the work, and we can think about that in other ways.”

“So, I think it will continue for young people coming out of high school. And I would challenge anyone to show me that there is a diminished interest. There is a diminished ability to pay. But people want to send their kids, they worry about their kids off to college.”

So while the classroom is being redefined in a number of ways, most believe that at least some form of physical space will continue to be set aside in the future.

+1 vote

The EdTech marketplace is undoubtedly reshaping school systems. Nowadays, students can easily access knowledge online, tutoring sessions with the click of a button and interact with content in newfound ways. The ubiquitous nature of apps and online forums has made it so that students cane more comfortable using media than the traditional learning tools. This blog stands to explore these questions.

How Big Is The Edtech Marketplace?

Apps and online tutoring sessions seem even more accessible than person-to-person engagement. While students would need to schedule time with a tutor or with their teacher outside of class time, it is far easier to go onto YouTube or search your question online. The ETIN (Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA) represents and supports developers of educational software applications, digital content, online learning services and related technologies across the K-20 sector. More and more money is being pumped into an industry that wants to answer to the nature of technology in the household.

Now nearly every young student has access to a computer or smartphone in some capacity. According to an article by Education World, the U.S. EdTech was an estimated $8.38 Billion in 2014, with no end in slowing down in sight. This is an industry that is growing at an accelerated rate to parallel the rate at which technology is now advancing.

With the rate at which the tech market is growing, educators have to ask whether or not these ESo instead of the EdTech Marketplace providing students with useful tools for students, it can turn into a futile attempt for technology to help students engage with content in a meaningful and productive way. In effect, the EdTech Marketplace stands to lose by not giving their audience the tools they need.

For instance, students that watch Khan Academy’s YouTube videos to learn a topic may be too distracted to focus on the video. Without a teacher present, a student is much more likely to get distracted, play on their phone and miss the entire premise of the video. Hffect of EdTech tools precisely, but the American school system is still many rankings behind what is expected. The U.S. was ranked 25th in the world in science and math education in 2015. Singapore and Hong Kong came first and second respectively. According to TechinAsia, Asia is seen as the next frontier in EdTech. The industry is projected to grow by 8 percent to the US $252 billion by 2020 in the global market.

However, this may not be due to the use of Edtech. Instead, culturally, the commitment to education is strong in those regions and has been for many years. Accordance of education in these households, they are willing to adapt to different learning climates. Thereby, using EdTech to shift the learning process. While the US is cation and to create an expectation that education comes first.

Since it appears the EdTech Marketplace stands to alter the face of education for many years to come, it is important to ask other questions related to the effect it will as well. How does the EdTech world affect the person-to-person engagement of learning? What does it do to students if they are not able to use the content to learn in person, instead relying on online tools to help them through the problem set?

Generation Z students who have grown up with laptops, iPads, and smartphones. So their brains have evolved in such a way that allows them to process more information at faster speeds than previous generations of to the social aspect of learning. Otherwise, it will merely be a tool in which students engage with a robot. The best way to counter this is by giving a student an authentic audience.

While some critics criticize the Khan Academy approach, it is helpful that on the other side of the screen is a real person. Learning then becomes a social act rather than a process of computing.

As technological tools advance and the EdTech Marketplace continues to fund learning in this way, then the marketplace must be ready to give students an interactive experience that can allow for better learning and retention of knowledge, while also improving the education system that has been seemingly failing students for decades. Perhaps the EdTech Marketplace needs to grow in order to figure out the best ways to adapt to the learning experience. The growing interest in EdTech shows that there is an interest in reshaping the education system to be a better tool than ever before and making learning only a click away.

in EdTech
...