The Role of Educational Technology in Fostering 21st Century Learning Skills in Social-Emotional Learning

The Role of Educational Technology in Fostering 21st Century Learning Skills in Social-Emotional Learning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4102-9.ch007
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Technology is transforming P-12 education. Student-driven inquiry and thirst for technology are gradually pushing out the traditional, teacher-centered classroom. Technology is seen as a powerful tool to integrate in the curriculum to create more student-centered learning and more personalized learning for students. Acknowledging that we are all living in a digital age as well as recognizing the students who are in our present-day schools are 21st century learners, educators are examining their own mindsets of what it means to be 21st century teacher. They are assessing and considering new pedagogical methods that integrate technology to further promote collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity in and outside of the classroom.
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Technology has transformed the way we work, the way we think, and the way we socialize. We live in a digital world—a world in which we rely on various technologies to assist us in daily activities. To name a few examples, we rely on emails and text messages for quick correspondences; online banking to manage our finances; and skyping and zooming to communicate with business associates; and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to socialize with friends and family.

This new digital world has quickly crossed over into P-12 education, and there are significant changes in the way teachers are teaching students. Pedagogy has become less traditional and teacher-centered, with a stronger focus on student-centered learning. Students are becoming more empowered by having their own digital device in school or at home for learning. Teachers are attempting to make education more personalized and engaging for students by having them take a more active role in their own learning using technology. Learning can take place at anytime and anywhere, inside the classroom or outside of it. Technology is becoming the new pedagogy.

Students are more engaged when technology is integrated into their lessons. They see this new addition as something innovative and fun. When students are excited about learning and begin seeing their successes as learners, their social emotional statuses change for the better. They see the benefits of learning. As Schlechty (2002) noted about engagement: “Engagement is active. It requires the students to be attentive as well as in attendance; it requires the students to be committed to the task and find some inherent value in what he or she is being asked to do. The engaged student not only does the task assigned but also does the task with enthusiasm and diligence.” Educational technology encourages more active and hands-on participation and student interaction in the learning process, something that is not always achievable in a traditional, teacher-centered environment that is lecture-oriented.

Educational technology builds on the 21st century learning skills. When students work together on a problem-based issue to create a solution, for example, they collaborate and communicate with each other—in the same classroom, same school, or even with other classrooms around the world; they problem-solve, brainstorm ideas, and discuss for solutions; and they use technology to create an innovative product as the final output. Enhancing these 21st century learning skills is beneficial because it reinforces real-life skills students will need for a successful future. In addition, technology develops many practical skills that prepare career and college readiness, including learning how to create powerful presentations using multimedia, learning how to distinguish reliable and unreliable sources on the Internet for research, and just simply maintaining proper online etiquette or netiquette, rules that prevent miscommunications and understanding what is socially acceptable when working and collaborating online. These are just a few examples of what educational technology brings to the classroom.

Finally, educational technology is changing the mindset of educators. For many teachers, using technology is still a new process of learning and acceptance. However, in the 4th Annual Educator Confidence Report survey of more than 1200 educators (ECR, 2020), a large majority of educators spoke of technology in a positive way, stating that educational technology has had a positive impact on their instruction. Accordingly, 58% of teachers stated that they were very to extremely confident in their knowledge of educational technology and saw it as a useful teaching tool, and four-fifths of the teachers surveyed use “social media, apps, and other online communities for parent engagement, peer collaboration, and instructional content” (ERC, 2020). Even more encouraging are the benefits of educational technology that educators reported in this survey, which included the following: improved student engagement with learning, improved ability to deliver differentiated instruction, improved abilities for students to access information anytime and anywhere, time savings in workflows and processes, and more student collaboration and opportunities. Educators have the mindset of “lifelong learning.” Therefore, they realize that to keep up with this digital age, which is not going away, they must keep growing as teachers and must be willing to adapt their practices--no matter the challenge--to the best interests of their students and to continuously learn how to integrate technology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mindset: An established set of attitudes held by someone; one’s mindset impacts how one makes sense of the world and self.

Generation Alpha: The generation of individuals born between 2020 and 2025.

Pedagogy: The art and method of teaching.

SAMR Model: A model or framework to help educators implement technology into instruction; SAMR stands for substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition.

TPACK: A technology integration framework; identities three types of knowledge: technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge.

Generation Z: The generation of individuals born between 1997 and 2012, following millennials; a generation raised on the internet and social media; the oldest finishing college by 2020 and entering the workforce.

Constructivism: A learning theory that focuses on knowledge and explores how children learn; children “construct” meaning through their own interactions and experiences in social environments and settings.

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