When I was a kid, the height of technological advancement was the '92 edition of "The Oregon Trail" for Macintosh. Computer graphics have improved since then, but what hasn't changed is the notion that kids are inherently good at technology. Even in first grade, my computer teacher expected us to just "get it", despite a lack of clear, consistent instruction. The reality is, young people aren't predestined to understand modern technology any more than adults. And we do them a disservice by shoving laptops, smartphones, and iPads into their hands and saying, "Here, figure it out." Sure, some kids will pick it up. Others will flounder until they, too, became an out-of-touch stereotype. It doesn't have to be that way.
Think of smartphones, iPads, e-readers, and other devices as platforms where applications converge. Some are extremely helpful, while others are a waste of time. How can you help young learners distinguish between the two and leverage technology in a beneficial way? First, recognize that the right device actually increases engagement. A study by Abilene Christian University showed that the use of iPads improved students' scores and made them happier learners. The study's authors wrote,
These activities were enjoyed immensely by the students. The iPad has essentially freed the student from the classroom with a manageable device that is connected, mobile, and functional, allowing true collaboration to begin...Selected video segments from the students showed me the liberating nature of the iPad and its applications in the classroom. Students could jump up, move around, and take their iPad with them to discuss data, solutions, or problems.
It's easy to doubt anecdotes like this. You might be thinking, "Yes, but would it work in my classroom?" With or without technology, many of us are scared of failure. But ed tech is past the theory stage, so take a deep breath and let the research light your way. Second, understand the importance of continuous guidance. Left to their own devices (no pun intended), kids may spend their time on silly, time-sucking apps and forget about more useful resources. Our advice? Learn alongside your students! You'll both get a feel for what various apps can do, and you'll have a better handle on how well the child is progressing. Finally, pick some great apps and get started! Your students can use iMovie to shoot and edit short films, Magic Piano to familiarize children with classical pieces, or Evernote to save notes in the cloud. For diagramming, brainstorming, and freehand drawing, try Lucidchart's whiteboard iPad app. Your students will love the simple interface, and you'll love the seamless integration with Google Drive and Google Apps for Education. As kids experiment with new tools, they'll gain confidence and be on their way to lifelong digital leadership.
Technology has progressed immeasurably since my grade school days, and we need to keep up. So whether you're planning a field trip, a group project, or a PBL session, try Lucidchart's whiteboard iPad app for a sophisticated mobile solution.
Remember that Lucidchart is free to students and educators with a .edu account. So start innovating your way of learning with Lucidchart today!