Aug 09 2021

Boost SEL and Collaboration in the Classroom with 1:1 Devices

One-to-one devices help teachers integrate social-emotional learning technology (SEL) into classrooms in ways that are meaningful and measurable, as well as help teachers monitor student well-being.

Going back to school is stressful for students in the best of times. Now, with more schools reopening for in-person learning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, educators can expect to see an array of mental health issues. These include post-traumatic stress symptoms from economic stressors and disease aspects, which could manifest in new or worsening behavioral problems. Students may experience somatic symptoms, sadness, anxiety, hypervigilance, low concentration and truancy, among other effects. How can educators help students reconnect with classmates and learning materials while managing their social and emotional behaviors?

“One-to-one devices are an essential tool for accessing information and resources that can support student social-emotional skills,” says Mariana Aguilar, senior director of strategy and research at GoGuardian.

One-to-One Devices Support Classroom Social-Emotional Learning

Teachers can employ programs, accessed through one-to-one devices, to help students regulate their emotions, problem-solve, develop social- and self-awareness and reconnect with friends. Each of these elements are CASEL core competencies for social-emotional learning. School-issued Chromebooks also introduce students to computer-based collaborative learning, which supports social and emotional intelligence as students work to collectively complete goals.

“Cooperative or collaborative learning requires individuals to be self-aware,” says Mark Sparvell, director of marketing education at Microsoft. “And self-awareness requires you to be able to accurately recognize, understand and label your emotions.”

Mobile devices open the door to personalized e-learning opportunities, where students can practice social and emotional competencies as they develop their academic ones. GoGuardian, producer of many such programs, cites McGraw-Hill Connect, GSuite, and Microsoft 365 as “great examples of social-emotional learning technology.” More narrowly specialized examples include Minecraft: Education Edition’s The Mindful Knight, which introduces students to mindfulness for self-awareness, coping skills and self-management.

Social-emotional learning technologies can be divided into two categories: those that foster collaborative learning and those that monitor students’ social-emotional well-being.

DISCOVER: Complimentary resources to help K–12 IT leaders prepare for learning anywhere.

Social-Emotional Learning Technology for Collaborative Learning

Products like GoGuardian’s Pear Deck or Microsoft Teams offer breakout rooms, which can be used on student devices to foster collaborative learning and help students gain coping skills, emotional awareness and empathy through personalized learning experiences.

“Every Pear Deck lesson,” Aguilar says, “begins with a simple check-in: ‘How are you feeling today?’” Pear Deck’s SEL checks help teachers gauge students’ emotional well-being. Educators can follow up with positive feedback in real time, chat with the student or even call them after the lesson ends.

Sparvell cites tools that employ video-enabled environments for practicing open communication, as well as Minecraft, which provides experiential learning opportunities to resolve conflict, collaborate and make responsible decisions.

Educators have found creative and collaborative uses for other tools at their disposal, such as using Google Sites to create virtual escape rooms. These require students to work together to solve problems, aiding their social-emotional growth in the process.

Social-Emotional Technology for Monitoring Students’ Well-Being

Then, there are products like Beacon from GoGuardian that analyze online activity in real time and help teachers monitor students’ well-being through school-issued one-to-one devices. This and other SEL applications act as suicide or self-harm prevention tools while monitoring students online behavior.

Beacon monitors one-to-one devices for concerning activity and notifies responders if students seem likely to pose a threat to themselves. Another program, Impero Wellbeing, spots and addresses mental health issues proactively, says Kaitlin Trujillo, key account manager of Impero Software.

Aperture Education provides SEL school assessments that can be completed individually on a student’s device in a gamified format. The organization’s DESSA Student Self-Report allows students to “explore their SEL-related responses, identify their areas of strength and growth opportunities, and create a personalized growth plan through research-based strategies and personalized SMART goals,” says Christine Nicodemus, Aperture Education’s chief product officer. “All of this is done within a gamified, mobile-friendly software platform.”

Charlottesville City Schools in Virginia used DESSA after the 2017 Unite the Right rally to help its 4,300 students deal with resulting trauma, and used it with pandemic-related triggers in 2020. The assessment has helped educators at Charlottesville City Schools understand the need for more counseling for students.

GoGuardian Teacher then allows educators to check in with struggling students through videoconferencing and text-based chats. “Our data shows nearly 8 in 10 video conferences with GoGuardian Teacher are on one-to-one devices, indicating the importance of these devices for direct teacher-student relationships,” Aguilar says.

Social-emotional monitoring technology provides teachers and students with the means of measuring the effectiveness of SEL and tracking their own growth in real time.

“Its information can help educators know where to adjust approaches, provide individual support or possibly explore further to support students and understand better how their emotions are helping or harming their engagement in learning,” Sparvell says.

A student’s device can act as a barometer of how well they’ve processed their return to in-person school after the pandemic. “We treasure what we measure,” Sparvell notes, “so check-in apps like Reflect in Microsoft Teams that help broaden learners’ emotional vocabulary and empathy provide valuable insight into the ‘heartbeat’ of the classroom.”

Using one-to-one devices to explore and express emotions through technology leads to healthier, happier, more productive students who can return to the classroom confidently, ready to reconnect with peers, educators and in-person approaches to learning.

MORE ON EDTECH: Asset tagging tips help IT teams keep track of one-to-one devices.

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