Nov 16 2017

Tech, Digital Citizenship Support Social and Emotional Learning for K-12 Students

Certain education technologies can facilitate lessons on empathy and compassion.

Though not tested on Common Core or other statewide tests, social and emotional skills are an important part of the development of today’s students.

Many of the social interactions K-12 students will have in their lives will occur online, so it is fitting that technology can be used a means to teach students important social and emotional skills.

A report released last year from the World Economic Forum indicated that educational technology could assist with teaching social skills such as collaboration and communication, THE Journal reports.

In its examination of the research, Education Week found that there was not enough ed tech that supported teaching social and emotional skills on the market, and there was big potential for growth in the years to come.

While specific technology for social and emotional growth isn’t big just yet, there are a few ways that schools are using current technologies to teach these skills.

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Skype Teaches Empathy for Other Cultures

As an education tool, Skype and other videoconferencing platforms can help extend the classroom to faraway places. But, using Skype in a K–12 setting can have an unexpected benefit: it fosters compassion for people from other countries.

For Manteca (Calif.) Unified School District fifth-grade teacher Tammy Dunbar and Concord Road Elementary (N.Y.) third-grade teacher Amy Rosenstein, Skype in the Classroom has let their students interact with peers from around the world.

Dunbar said it made her students realize that there were students just like them all over the world.

“Empathy and kindness come naturally with meeting people in different places,” says Rosenstein in the EdTech article. “Even something as simple as saying ‘Hi’ or singing a song with kids from another country or sharing artwork, it just makes people real.”

Digital Citizenship Lessons Foster Compassion

Showing that there is a real person on the other end of the computer is a component of teaching young people digital citizenship.

Through a partnership with the University of Michigan, students at Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor are learning the tenets of digital civility and etiquette. Student teachers from the university discuss everything from privacy and security to cyberbullying with the middle school students.

The student teachers aim to educate the middle schoolers on how they should treat each other online before the students begin regularly using classroom technology. Thanks to the lessons, the middle schoolers have developed compassion for other digital users.

“Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to think about how other people feel before I say or post something,” says student Anthony Stewart in a U of M video.

Cyberbullying is a huge social and emotional issue for today’s students. The latest data from The Cyberbullying Research Center shows that about one in every four teens has experienced bullying while online. For educators, there is a responsibility to teach students how to recognize this kind of behavior, as well as why not to engage in it. Thankfully, technology can help.

ReThink, a free context filtering software, was designed by a 13-year-old who wanted to face cyberbullies head-on. Using its filtering algorithm, ReThink can detect if a student is about to post something offensive and then present a dialogue box asking the student if they are sure they want to post it.

“Research shows that when adolescents are alerted to rethink their decisions, they change their minds 93 percent of the time,” ReThink’s website states.

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