A digital native is “a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age.” Students today all fall into this category and this changes the way we should think about how they are raised, how they learn, and the values we instill in them as we prepare them to become successful adults.
I was born before personal computing or even basic cellular phones were common in the home. My entire life experience before middle school was what I’d guess you call “digital naïve.” My eighth grade technology teacher, Mr. Williams, introduced me to computing in a way no teacher ever had before. While I remember it being a very steep learning curve, those exercises programming a robot arm to follow a basic program or creating an animated graphic on a CRT monitor opened the door to a whole other world.
Teaching digital natives
Students today are born into a world rich in technology. Now, it’s more common to walk by a middle-schooler taking notes on their laptop instead of with a notebook and pen. Or to watch first graders rotate through different learning stations where each activity is delivered on a computer tablet. Chalkboards and whiteboards in our local public school, and even the private preschool at the end of our street, have been replaced by equally-sized interactive digital displays.
My children’s reading, math, and music homework is delivered via computer or tablet and is directly connected to their teachers. Their progress is saved and transferred to the device they happen to be working on, at home or at school. As a parent, I get regular email notifications about their test results and advancement throughout the school year and not only on report card day.
Technology’s impact on the classroom and beyond
Technology has truly revolutionized education. Just a few of the benefits of upgrading the classroom with technology include the following:
Students experience learning beyond the computer lab. Schools can bring technology into individual classrooms rather than relying on a designated computer lab. This integrates technology with learning and allows technology to be present more often throughout the learning process. Learning can also occur beyond the classroom.
Technology creates a love of learning. When students enjoy what they are doing in class each day, the mindset changes learning exploration from something that they must do into something they want to do.
Happy teacher, happy classroom. Fun and functional technology tools can bring a new level of excitement for the job. The right equipment and software can make it as fun for teachers to design and create new learning experiences as it is for their students to explore them.
Students become more engaged in their own learning. Technology allows learners to gain control of the subject, direction, and pace of their education. This can be beneficial inside and outside the classroom. It can also foster an inclusive classroom where students of all abilities can learn side by side.
Technology can help students find and utilize their individual learning style. There are seven recognized learning preferences based on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Finding the student’s dominant learning style and allowing them to explore learning activities based on that style will help him or her learn more successfully. Whether a child absorbs information better through charts, by role playing, by solving puzzles, within a group setting, or even with music in the background, technology can deliver or enhance their learning experience.
Our children will ready for the real world. Technology plays an important role in the classroom and its importance extends beyond education. These skills are essential in the workforce and modern daily life.
We’ve all had at least one memorable teacher that made an impact on our lives. Who was the teacher that influenced you (or your children) the most and why? Tell us in the comments below and learn more about how to prepare digital natives for life after school and Teachers’ Balancing Act by visiting the SMART EDBLOG or by following SMART on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
SMART Technologies helps great teachers get outstanding results by taking learning from passive listening to active collaboration. Learn how SMART software helps turn lessons into learning experiences at education.smarttech.com.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SMART . The opinions and text are all mine.