Following on from the recent ISN discussion with Immerse Education on recent technological advancements that have changed the teaching of traditional subjects (link at the bottom), Sean Stevens elaborates on the topic with this deeper dive into how technology can be used to reimagine classroom learning, and how it may further enhance the teaching of traditional subjects in secondary education
At Immerse Education, we have witnessed first-hand the significant advancements technology integration has brought to teaching methodologies in classroom settings across the world. It has fundamentally reshaped the manner in which traditional subjects like Maths, Science, Humanities, and English are taught, presenting innovative avenues for students to engage with the subject matter, and empowering teachers to deliver more effective instruction.
Reimagining classroom learning in the digital age
Educational technology, colloquially known as EdTech, has become an indispensable cornerstone in nurturing immersive and engaging learning experiences. This has been especially critical in light of the global pandemic that mandated a transition towards remote learning. Technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are revolutionising both physical and virtual learning environments. These interactive platforms can virtually transport students from their homes to the Pyramids of Egypt during a History lesson, or delve deep into cellular structures in a Biology class. These immersive experiences animate abstract concepts and historical events, substantially deepening understanding and enhancing information retention. By bridging the physical distance, these tools have proven their efficacy in providing an experiential learning level to students, which would have been impossible in a traditional or remote learning environment.
Facilitating personalised learning
Technology also bolsters the implementation of personalised learning, an approach that customises instruction and learning pathways to each student's needs, interests, and pace of learning. Adaptive learning platforms powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are seeing widespread adoption. These systems adapt to a student's performance, offering content based on their proficiency level, thereby tailoring instruction for individual students in real-time.
Take Maths, for instance. Adaptive learning platforms can identify a student's understanding gaps and provide targeted practice questions or remedial lessons. Consequently, students who may have fallen behind can catch up, and those who are ahead can continue to be challenged, ensuring no one is left behind or unstimulated due to a one-size-fits-all teaching approach.
As Claire Campbell from the British International School of Cairo noted in our webinar, educational technology facilitates the development of learner autonomy, a crucial aspect of personalised learning. It allows students to take the helm of their educational journey, fostering self-directed learning. Platforms like Khan Academy, Coursera, and edX provide a treasure trove of resources across various subjects, enabling students to delve into topics of interest, learn at their pace, and delve deeper into complex concepts. Teachers can supplement classroom instruction with these resources, encouraging students to investigate and learn beyond the curriculum's confines. This approach not only enhances their subject knowledge but also cultivates lifelong learning habits, preparing them to adapt to an ever-evolving world. Technology, in this sense, truly becomes an enabler, transforming the role of teachers from mere information providers to facilitators of learning, guiding students along their unique intellectual discovery paths.
Promoting collaboration and communication
Technology has significantly enhanced collaborative learning. Platforms like Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and Padlet enable students to collaborate on projects, share ideas, and provide peer feedback in real-time, regardless of their physical location. This mirrors the collaborative nature of the modern workplace, equipping students with necessary 21st-century skills such as teamwork, communication, and digital literacy.
For instance, in English, students can collaboratively write and edit stories, offering real-time feedback and suggestions to their peers. Teachers, too, can provide instant and continuous feedback, reinforcing learning more effectively than periodic grading.
Enriching assessment practices
Technology allows for richer, more varied assessment practices that transcend traditional tests and quizzes. Digital tools enable teachers to assess learning in real-time through interactive quizzes, online polls, and student response systems like Kahoot! and Quizizz. This immediate feedback allows timely intervention and support where it’s needed, aiding teachers in identifying students' weaknesses and strengths with more accuracy.
For example, in a Science class, a teacher could use a digital platform to create an interactive quiz about a recently taught concept. Students' responses provide immediate insights into their understanding, enabling the teacher to clarify misconceptions right away, rather than after grading a traditional paper-based test.
Another compelling example is the use of Flipgrid, which allows students to create video responses to prompts or questions. In an English class, students could analyse a character's motivation in a given novel, conveying their ideas via a short video. Teachers and peers can then respond directly to the videos, promoting a continuous exchange of feedback and ideas. In a Maths context, students could explain their process for solving complex problems, facilitating the teacher's understanding of their problem-solving approach and enabling the teacher to provide tailored feedback and additional challenges. This use of technology makes assessment more interactive and meaningful, extending beyond rote learning and focusing on understanding, analysis, and application.
Despite the transformative potential of technology in education, it is essential to remember that technology is a tool, not a panacea. Its effectiveness depends on thoughtful implementation, considering factors such as accessibility, teacher readiness, and alignment with curriculum and pedagogy. As educators, we should strive to harness the power of technology, not to replace traditional teaching methods, but to enhance them, making learning more engaging, personalised, and effective for our students in this digital age.
The integration of technology in secondary education is not merely a trend; it is a progressive approach to teaching and learning that unlocks a world of possibilities. It is an invitation to rethink and reimagine how we teach our traditional subjects, making them more relevant, engaging, and meaningful for our students. Ultimately, it is a stepping stone to preparing our students for a future that is increasingly being shaped by technology.