Tech-ing the Next Step: Part 3 - Students and Parents

Looking at Learners: How to Tackle Concerns with Tech in the Classroom

“Think of the children”, goes the well-known saying, and in this part of our blog series, we aim to do exactly that. We examine the role of technology in learning, confront some of the most common issues raised in discussions of digital safety for students, and offer effective, sustainable solutions for managing those issues.

While education was always headed down a tech-aligned route, the circumstances of the pandemic helped illustrate the “how” and “why” of this journey. Remote learning and widespread use of edtech tools helped reveal the deeper purpose and possibilities that education technology can represent.

When incorporated with education, technology can expand student horizons, improve access to learning resources, and give rise to new, more flexible and purposeful teaching and learning techniques.

But beneath the endless possibilities, there also lurks a small shred of unease and hesitation. As we experience an unprecedented time in education, we are confronted by unknown variables that affect the most vulnerable members of the education ecosystem - our students.

So while the journey ahead is still a promising one, it is crucial to make sure that the interests of our students are protected throughout it. And to achieve that, we must identify and prioritize the most pressing issues surrounding edtech and take them head-on.

1. What Happens to Student Data?

The first point of concern relates to data privacy and protection, and is one that has become increasingly pertinent in recent times. Like all digital data, information and records from educational institutions are just as open to getting mishandled and breached.

In this digital climate, it is critical that efforts to safeguard student information are made at every tier of the educational structure.

On an administration level, schools must make sure that any new technologies being introduced into the classroom are compliant with legal frameworks such as the GDPR (in Europe) and COPPA (in the US). It is also important to review all security and privacy statements from edtech providers and verify that student data is not being sold or placed at risk of being exposed.

2. How Much is Too Much?

With increased technology comes an increased presence of tech devices and platforms in the classroom, raising valid concerns about screen time, ergonomics, and posture. The sweet spot of digital device use, however, lies somewhere between outright banning and overexposure.

To that end, educators and school administrators need to set out firm yet reasonable guidelines around the use of tech devices, by taking these points into account:

  • Establishing the purpose, context, and effectiveness of device use

  • Determining break frequencies and setting time limits for devices

  • Incorporating offline experiences

  • Ensuring online safety and fostering positive online behavior for students

  • Allowing access to only reputable sources of information

Teacher training can also be a valuable tool, such as within the Finnish education system whereby educators are effectively trained in practicing as well as promoting digital wellbeing in the classroom. 

3. What Role Should Parents Play?

Parental guidance has always been essential to the learning experience, but in the age of tech-aligned education, it now has a whole new significance.

Digital tools are being introduced into the classroom at an unprecedented scale and as tech-related concerns continue to be resolved, parental vigilance can prove to be extremely valuable. But parents must also balance this vigilance with up-to-date information and an understanding of the digital learning environment that is set to become the new classroom reality. 

By applying both vigilance as well as an updated understanding of edtech, parents can communicate more openly with children about potential harms, educate them on responsible use and set clear, realistic expectations around the handling of digital devices.

4. What Can We Learn from the Learners?

The world of education frequently shortchanges student opinion, often speaking on behalf of them instead of having them weigh in on decisions that directly impact their learning experience.

But as we head towards a new era in education, we must learn to take our cues directly from the end user - the digital native learner. This generation is easily the most technologically adept member of the education system, which means that their feedback on edtech experiences is not just valuable, but essential.

While some decisions, such as those relating to infrastructure and systems, cannot be made by students, several others can. With questions relating to ease of use, engagement, and learning outcomes, students can prove to be the most in-touch and relevant experts on the matter. 

This focus on student feedback also ensures that learners have an active say in developing the very resources they need to build the technical and digital citizenship skills that will serve them in the future.

Our technology blog series ‘Tech-ing the Next Step’ is written based on insight gathered from interviews with some of our education team members: Stephen Cox (Chief Education Officer), Christopher Petrie (Director of Digital Learning), and Laura Luomanen-Jaakkola (Director of Professional Development).

Learn more about our Nordic Learning Platform - an all-in-one, simple to use solution that integrates everything needed for personalized, online, and face-to-face learning.


Questing: Case Hill Avenue Academy (UK)