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If I were to say that thirty years ago we studied in a completely different way from students today, it wouldn’t really be true. Without a shadow of a doubt, we’re in the midst of a technological revolution. We stream digital media, we save documents and photos to the cloud and we control our homes through our smartphones. As for education, this revolution, characterised by the introduction of technology in the classroom, is just beginning. We have been using digital screens for years, we have learning platforms like Moodle and there are educational channels appearing on YouTube that reinforce the content and explanations given by teachers in the classroom. Despite this, the fundamentals of the educational system remain steadfastly unchanged. Today, students learn in the same way that they learned thirty years ago: the same subjects, the same classrooms, the same grading system.
Is this the full extent of the innovation we can expect to see in education? I don't think so. There is infinite potential for new technologies in the classroom. Fortunately, there are always pioneering ideas that help forge new ways forward. At Kids&Us, we decided to implement new technologies to give parents a new channel to access our educational resources. I’ve always been adamant that face-to-face learning and human contact are best, especially for young children. But, at the same time, I’ve always insisted that learning English must go beyond the four walls of the classroom, and that we need to find ways of taking the learning process to wherever students happen to be. Bearing in mind that Kids&Us is an after-school activity and, as such, the physical presence of our students is limited, the use of new digital tools is a convenient way of getting English into other areas of their everyday lives. Let’s not kid ourselves, whether we like it or not, children spend a lot of time looking at screens. Therefore, what could be a better way of reaching them than through their mobile phones and/or tablets? Lots of parents have voiced concerns about their children needing to access Kids&Us apps on a mobile phone, which they feel is unsuitable as their children could access other types of content. I don't believe the solution lies in keeping mobiles phones out of children’s reach or prohibiting their use, but rather in promoting a responsible use of these technologies and in setting a good example by supervising children and correcting how they use them when necessary. All of us need to do this together. If we only focus on the risks and distractions associated with new technologies, we’ll lose all the benefits they have to offer.
At Kids&Us, we have been committed to students using mobile apps for some years now. Over time, we've witnessed the positive effects they have.
Apps facilitate immediate access to content, anywhere and at any time. They feature games, which means children learn through play. This helps them internalise what they learn in the classroom spontaneously. At the same time, neuronal networks associated with learning are activated in the brain when children are happy and relaxed. And, most importantly, games stimulate their motivation.
We are told time and time again that new technologies are here to stay. I would say that they have already become a standard part of education and that there is a long road ahead, full of potential. But innovation in the classroom goes beyond this. We are faced with challenges such as content co-creation and the use of Big Data, which will allow us to adapt education to the requirements of individual students, or even make us rethink the concept of how we teach.
Innovation in education gives us up-to-date tools that promote new skills and open new horizons of knowledge. New technologies are currently the flagship of this innovation, and they're a great resource to complement children’s learning. Let’s make them our allies to help us boost the learning process. Let's think of new technologies as an innovative means of administering children their daily dose of vitamin English.