As schools worldwide go digital, necessitated by today’s global landscape and workforce expectations, using software to augment student outcomes and teach appropriate real-world behavior becomes a cornerstone of raising a generation of responsible and productive citizens.

Today, parents use technology for everything from reading their kids bedtime stories to teaching them to tell time and tie their shoes. Technology also helps bring family members across the globe “face-to-face” in real time (and often for free), in ways that were once impossible. With advances like these, it makes sense that schools are also increasingly using technology in an attempt to improve learning and increase access to resources. Technology can also make resources more affordable than in the past—versus using traditional teaching tools and textbooks—and makes it easier for educators to ensure the resources they’re using are up to date.

The ability for students to move from passive receivers to active stakeholders in their own learning is a key element that drives policymakers and educators to invest significant resources in new technology. Still, the ways teachers and school administrators choose to implement technology may vary, and depends on a number of factors. Everything from a school’s budget to wifi bandwidth come into play, but often the most significant factor is teacher preference and curriculum design.

The presence of devices in classrooms does more than facilitate unprecedented access to resources and information—itself a powerful asset for learning; the availability of devices (and extensions and apps that fundamentally augment the devices’ capabilities) is actually transforming the way teachers and students connect and think about education as a whole.

The Digital Teaching Assistant

We’ve all been there. Someone’s looking over our shoulder or standing behind us as we text, talk on the phone, or type on a computer, and suddenly we’re more aware of their presence than we are of the task at hand. This kind of behavior, while often with good intention, can be very distracting.

This “hypervigilance” is even more pronounced for students when teachers stand over their shoulders and watch them work, because they are particularly sensitive to garnering their teachers’ approval on classwork and homework. It can also have a negative influence on the work itself, since the students aren’t able to give their full attention to the task at hand (nor can the teacher, for that matter). Teachers can’t give students appropriate feedback by looking over their shoulders and watching them work through a problem, because their very presence alters the way students interact with the material and assignments.

At GoGuardian, we’ve interacted with teachers who use our products and the devices in their classrooms in a variety of ways. These educators use technology to streamline practices and procedures they used to perform with traditional tools. These can include:

  • creating and collecting assignments

  • communicating with other teachers

  • scheduling parent-teacher conferences

  • providing digital textbooks instead of printed versions

  • managing interactions between students in a given class

  • calculating grades and keeping grade books up to date

There are also teachers who use devices in their classrooms to do things that other technological platforms facilitate, but which were previously unavailable in school settings. These include:

  • remotely communicating with students off-campus about homework or classwork questions

  • demonstrating concepts and experiments that are either too far removed or too expensive

  • too dangerous, bulky, or messy for students

  • exposure to cultures around the world, both contemporary and historic

  • too expensive to purchase materials

  • real-time feedback and insight and help students as soon as they get stuck

  • no time wasted being frustrated

  • individual attention for an entire classroom in real time

The last point, allowing teachers to tailor instruction to each individual student by guiding students through the process of doing assignments and fully understand how they think, where they get stuck, and the resources they choose to employ when they encounter challenges, allows teachers to become as intricately involved in the classwork assignments they give students. This gives teachers more granular insight into student needs, challenges, and strengths, allowing them to highlight successful ways certain students think through a problem. They can can share these techniques and strategies with others who may be struggling to understand the way the teacher first presented it.

The opportunity for students to learn through the process of working through assignments, rather just getting feedback once they are submitted, is one of the most significant and unparalleled values GoGuardian for Teachers offers students and educators.

The availability of options and alternate ways of thinking is paramount to creating innovative thinkers who are not forced into rote memorization or a single right or wrong way of doing things. This flexibility is essential to creating a generation of makers, thinkers, and leaders who will excel in the second half of the 21st century workforce.