What Kind Of World Are We Preparing Students For?

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by Jennifer Rita Nichols, TeachThought Intern

Most educators can agree that the biggest trend in education today has to do with technology integration. As more and more schools find ways to use technology in the classroom and across subject areas, teachers are trying multitudes of techniques for effective integration that promotes student achievement and learning.

Technology can provide students with a powerful learning tool. In fact, tablets and laptops may be the most versatile learning tools in history. Students now have almost instant access to vast amounts of content and information that is both interactive and engaging. In 21st century classrooms, students are able to travel the world without packing, see major events without stepping outside, and talk with people from other cultures without picking up a telephone or writing a letter. The world is open and waiting for them to digitally explore it.

However, no teacher must forget what they are really preparing their students for.

Students need to be prepared for the real word–the one that they live in each day and will build lives and careers in. The digital world has become a part of the real world, but has not replaced it. The future isn’t digital, it’s real and tangible and all around us. Students need to be prepared to make good choices and have built the skills that they need to succeed outside of computer-generated content.

The necessity of teaching students to use digital tools responsibly and effectively cannot be understated. Their success and safety depends on their ability to navigate the digital world as well as the real one. However, the digital world is just that–a tool. A wonderful and extremely versatile one, it’s a tool nonetheless. Students need to learn how to use various technology to each example’s full potential, as well as to be willing to continue learning about it exactly how that technology advances and changes in new and exciting ways.

We can’t ignore technology in our classrooms, and we shouldn’t. Students can achieve more than ever before, in creative and unique ways. We just can’t forget the other skills that they need to learn that aren’t digital.

The real world requires students to be responsible for their actions, to engage in face-to-face conversations, to socialize in person, to solve problems that exist in front of them, to collaborate and work with others, to build close and long-term relationships, to maintain a home and career, to live healthy and active lifestyles, and many other non-digital things.

No matter how far technology advances, it will not replace the real world. The future will not be found in video games or chat rooms. It isn’t in any one of the social media platforms or in any app that will ever be created. The fact that this kind of reminder is even necessary speaks to the incredible power of technology, but everything in the digital world can only be used to enhance the real world students function in–the natural and un-coded world around us all.

Image attribution flickr user woodleywonderworks