1:1 Technology – Harnessing the Power of the Tool – Part 2

Tech Tech

Technology in our schools provide teachers with so many choices never afforded past generations of students.  Strong school districts have technology plans which enable smooth district rollouts, seamless connections, and ample security.  Technology coaches across the country are helping teachers leverage the power of technology.  Yet, with the benefits of the tools come cautions educators need to be aware. Part 1 discussed making sure students were social as they process the learning and to keep in mind what we know about attention.  This practical post reminds us about social emotional learning and protecting students’ affective world.

Include Social and Emotional Learning

There are many unknowns as to the impact of technology on mental health.  Beginning trends suggested a negative impact; however, there are positives found in recent literature. There are too numerous articles to list. At the end of the post I have included a limited resource list to get an interested reader links to begin their quest.  Much of the research conducted around the subject were prior to the majority of students having devices. Over the next few years it will be interesting to see the results of newer studies. For today’s post, we should remember there is a difference between educational technology uses versus out of school social media usage. Let’s think about some general takeaways for educators.

SEL Programs Impact Students

Durlak and colleagues (2011) meta-analysis explains how k – 12 education can impact students with SEL (social and emotional learning) programs. Educators can and should be helping students build emotional and social capacity. SEL programs should include bullying prevention training for students and adults. There are many resources at www.casel.org to help educators get started. Teachers can monitor student behaviors and the usage of technology in the classroom to try to ensure students are not experiencing perceived social isolationism, cyberbullying, or social withdrawal.

Sherry Turkle (2015), a professor at MIT, warns readers that we have lost the art of having conversation as a result of individual technology devices. Technology has wooed us into ourselves. Interacting with others online gives us a sense of control: editing, deleting, convenience, time for reaction, etc. In real time conversations, there is little control. The art of conversing is messy and tricky.  As educators consider students’ affective realm, they need to have students practicing with real listening, real understanding, real empathy, real intimacy—true feelings and connectedness. These are the kinds of skills which help develop SEL.

Educators can cultivate SEL and connectivity between students. The huge benefits of technology in the classroom are overwhelming and push educators to harness the tool. As we settle in to one to one technology, choose to help students by thinking about the whole child. After reading parts 1 and 2 of harnessing the tools of one to one technology here are a few ideas of what you can do.

What can I do as an educator?

  1. Be aware – operate with your school’s responsible use policy in mind.  Heightened awareness alone can help sculpt class time toward responsible online citizenship.
  2. Use a SEL program – if your district does not have a SEL program or a method to systematically build students social and emotional capacities, advocate for starting something.
  3. Teach collaborative conversations – teach students how to have conversations around what they are learning.  Students need to interact within the three-dimensional world exercising empathy, understanding, and other-centeredness.  But, don’t expect them to “own it” without specific modeling and instruction by the adults in the building.
  4. Slow down the processing – blend online learning with specific time to take or make handwritten notes and comments on their learning.  When taught how to take notes, handwritten notes will be more reflective of the learning and do a better job of capturing the gist of the discussions around the learning.
  5. Teach stopping cues – build in stopping cues for students to leave the online world and walk around, process verbally, take time to visit with others, or other activities that create an environment of metacognitive awareness.  When living in a never-ending scroll of social media and research, teach students how to set stopping cues and then practice following them.
  6. Use technology augmentation – create lesson plans first based on the formative assessment results of your classroom.  Then ask yourself how technology can enhance or augment the learning.  Don’t start with the technology by asking, “What can I teach today that uses the (insert device)?”
  7. Emphasize understanding – make sure in the learning space students are thinking through each content area with the “understanding frame.”  Examples might include:  Explore character trait analysis when reading text; discuss how the new learning would alter current social roles and/or interactions; predict how innovations in a new technology will impact the economy, the environment, and/or the community;  create community service projects or ideas to apply new learning; etc. Applications of learning should embrace impact on self and others.

All of us can learn from each other.  My district definitely does not have a corner on the solutions to the problems of preparing students for the jobs and social interactions of their adult lives.  Please continue to add to the conversation below.  Let’s learn together!

Resources for Further Reading:

Alter, A. (2017, April) Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_alter_why_our_screens_make_us_less_happy

Cole, S.W., Capitanioc, J. P., Chunc, K., Arevaloa, J. M., Maa, J., & Cacioppoe, J. T. (2015),

Myeloid Differentiation Architecture of Leukocyte Transcriptome Dynamics in Perceived Social Isolation.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 112 (49), 15142-15147; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1514249112

Cyberbullying Research Center https://cyberbullying.org/

Durlak, J. A., Weisseberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011), The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional lLearning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82 (1), 405-432; Retrieved from https://www.casel.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/meta-analysis-child-development-1.pdf

George, M. J., Russell, M. A., Piontak, J. R. and Odgers, C. L. (2017), Concurrent and Subsequent Associations Between Daily Digital Technology Use and High-Risk Adolescents’ Mental Health Symptoms. Child Development; doi:10.1111/cdev.12819

Jones, A. (2017).  More Technology Use Linked to Mental Health Issues in At-Risk Adolescents. Retrieved from https://today.duke.edu/2017/05/more-technology-use-linked-mental-health-issues-risk-adolescents

Kuss, D. J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Online Social Networking and Addiction: A Review of the Psychological Literature. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 8(9), 3528-3552; doi:10.3390/ijerph8093528

Turkle, S. (2015). Reclaiming the Power of the Conversation: The power of talk in a digital stage. New York: Penguin Books.


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