We are living in an age of Gen Z-ers who, as digital natives, are in tune with technological advances in communication such as social media, gaming, and conducting research almost exclusively using the internet. Their avenues for engagement are changing and teachers who are increasing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) instruction in their classrooms are exploring ways to incorporate more hands-on, immersive learning experiences that combine innovative technology with real-world connections. The motivation for doing so? To see their students’ active participation in experiments and projects, as well as strengthening the four Cs to 21st-century skills: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity.
As many people can attest to, if we aren’t totally keeping up with the basics of technology such as using a PC, reading and sending e-mail, and searching the internet for content, the digital divide – the gap between those who can benefit from using communication technology and those who cannot -- widens and creates a chasm for those who are lacking key 21st-century skills. This is a concern for many education decision-makers since they understand that today’s students need essential technological skills to compete in the future job market.
We are living in a time when we can tap, scroll, and swipe through information in a matter of seconds. Decisions can be made easily on our devices – phones, PCs, even large displays that are touch-capable. In more and more classrooms, teachers are moving from throw projectors and whiteboards to interactive displays (also known as interactive flat panel displays, interactive panels, interactive touchscreens, and smart boards) to boost overall engagement in lessons. Just what is an interactive display?
Pre-pandemic and school closures, many teachers implemented Google Classroom for efficient and interactive teaching and learning support. Google Classroom made using technology tools manageable and provided a user-friendly alternative to paper and pencil. How? Google Workspace for Education (formerly G Suite for Education) apps and tools help teachers and learners organize lessons, assignments, and resources. Teachers can also save and share content using their Drive folder, collaborating with colleagues at any time and from anywhere.
How was your classroom arranged this last school year? How did the arrangement affect your instructional practice? How did it affect student learning? Do you think having an audio system might have made a positive difference for everyone in the classroom?
With much discussion on whether to have employees fully return to offices, incorporate a hybrid model, or allow remote work to continue, the prevailing concern is whether productivity is continuous, smooth, and without major interruption. For companies that are deciding that hybrid and remote will best suit the overall company needs, including safeguarding employee health, then a means for collaboration is necessary. Do companies see employee training to improve collaboration and productivity as essential?
Ah summer break! A time to relax, refresh, and enjoy time away from all things academic. Sure, there are concerns about losing what was learned during a unique year (and a half) of schooling. But the pressure can ease up a bit so that building in enjoyable literacy-based activities will be more meaningful for our youth. Overall, the purpose of emphasizing reading over the summer is to help children retain literacy skills, maintain comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary skills, and boost self-confidence in their abilities. In addition, reading is the foundation for learning in all other subjects so just a few books can make a difference.
The value of emphasizing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) is essential since it impacts just about every facet of our lives - checking the news on your mobile phone, using video conferencing software to facilitate meetings, or programming our home alarm systems are all everyday activities influenced by STEM innovations. When we can make connections between topics being learned and our own lives, the learning tends to stick in our minds longer. It seems reasonable then that the study of robotics is integrated into STEM education programs since robotics influences many areas of life – construction, defense, health, maintenance, security, and more. Of course, robotics also allows for learning beyond our general experiences such as space exploration.
This past year has reinforced the nation’s belief that, even with limited resources, teachers are incredibly resilient and able to meet a broad array of challenges such as school closures, distance teaching, and more.
School is wrapping up and most of us are thinking of ways to help our students maintain their progress over the summer in fun and engaging ways. The following resources are terrific for learning from home with or without parent and caregiver help. For the most part, the websites collated here offer free activities and content. So, take a few minutes, click through some of these resources and share them with your families for engaging summer enrichment.