In a world dominated with all things digital, it’s not a great leap to assume that education will follow suit. The global pandemic is only seeming to accelerate this, whereby everything from lessons to homework are being set online without a need for face-to-face communication. It’s without a doubt that there are benefits to this; such as the round the clock availability of teachers as well as work automatically marked work and the obvious organisational benefits.
However is this the best way for children to learn?
Everything around us is dominated with technology that simply didn’t exist 15 years ago, and so it’s natural to question the long term effects of huge change. Of course, making the most of technology is what allows us to grow and conservatism in this way would only lead to stagnation. However, it’s hard to argue that children don’t require sociability when learning – remember school doesn’t just teach children academically, but also their social skills. We can’t imagine education ever being replaced by a virtual setting on a permanent basis for this very reason.
However, within lessons it’s clear that the tools that teachers and schools are employing to teach each topic is moving further from the traditional methods. There are a few reasons we believe that this can be dangerous:
- The distractions from staring at screens for prolonged periods of time can actually waste more time than the technology wishes to save in the first place.
- Relying on maths based websites and online worksheets may be teaching children to look for short-cuts in what they do (i.e. using online calculators rather than learning their Times Tables) which may translate to their attitudes later in life.
- It reduces the ability to work with each other in groups or teams as children are increasingly focused on their screens.
As mentioned before, it’s so important that as a country we can make the most use out of technology, however it’s equally vital to be sure that we aren’t doing so just for the sake of it. There is no doubt that more traditional learning techniques can provide hugely successful results. Flashies is built upon these methods and flash cards for example have so many proven benefits that it’s difficult to replicate online. Of course, one day we may transform our methods into a digital means, but only if we believe that the benefits can replicated effectively.
If there is one thing we can learn, it is that with time and technology innovation, opportunities and possibilities will only grow. However, selecting methods of teaching based on effectiveness and not based on other agendas such as financial ones is vital for ensuring the long term success in education. This isn’t written as a piece neglecting the benefits of moving education into a digital age, it’s a warning not to switch from traditional techniques for the sake of it. So often we try to fix things that are not yet broken, and elements of education such as flash card learning certainly still has a lot to offer.