Growing up, our generation did not use words like ‘Google’ or ‘Siri’. We were the pioneers of the tech era. We played Oregon Trail, asked Jeeves questions for our research, and waited for hours while Napster downloaded our favorite music. Now, children are digital natives. Children as young as two are utilizing iPads, exploring the apps on smartphones, and accessing the internet. How do we teachers keep up with this fast-moving generation who can navigate technology at breakneck speeds? And why should we integrate online learning into our classrooms? While there are countless strategies and resources at our fingertips, this article will spotlight the importance of engaging students in a blended learning environment.
Meeting the needs of students is a teacher’s top priority. A blended classroom approach allows students to have personalized learning experiences. When self-directed, students can move at their own pace. Individualized instruction is a best practice when it comes to meeting the needs of students and addressing learning styles. Differentiation is implemented easily when students have the capability of choosing learning paths made possible by online resources such as USATestprep. Student interest surveys are commonplace, and they provide insight into what students would like to discover, in and out of the classroom.
A digital learning environment fosters student engagement and facilitates exploration of passions and interests for each individual child. Content that is interactive has been shown to increase student attentiveness. According to a study from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, students reported being engaged and enjoying work that allowed them to be creative, caused them to be curious, and promoted positive relationships with others. As mentioned earlier, these students are technology gurus. Instead of forcing students to power off while in class, teachers can encourage empowering this generation with the use of their already familiar devices.
As seen in our daily routines and interactions with others, children and young adults are often utilizing their devices to communicate with one another. Interpersonal skills can be developed and enhanced via websites and apps that allow students to communicate in text or video, much like social media.
While school cannot compare to the lure of video games or Instagram, we can reinvent our classrooms to mirror a world of constant learning to which this current generation is accustomed. The English language is adapting to the sphere of the Digital Age. Sometimes we may think it is 2M2H (too much to handle), but this future generation of leaders sees it as normal. We no longer have the need to spend hours researching a topic; we can now use that time digesting the material, growing a deeper understanding, and creating news ways to assess it.