More digital tools, more decisions for parents in education


As technology evolves, so do the ways children learn in and out of the classroom. With constantly changing tools and trends, teachers can do more to stay up-to-date to help children thrive. Understanding what these changes mean can help parents make important choices for their child’s education.

Here is a rundown of some new trends to help parents navigate the World Wide Web of education:

More collaboration: If you think Facebook is all gossip and games, think again. Many teachers are drawing upon social media’s natural collaborative element and ability to connect the classroom and home. Some innovative teachers are using sites such as Pinterest, Skype, Facebook and Twitter in a controlled, supervised way to make classroom materials more accessible and encourage conversation.

Learning from each other: Since technology can change so rapidly, it’s important that teachers share best practices by word of mouth. The newest social platform, Edmodo, built the first whole network of K-12 users and connects teachers with other teachers as well as parents, students and third parties. Edmodo members can swap ideas, share lesson plans and manage grades in a secure network accessible from school computers. Edmodo has more than 8 million users across 60,000 schools.

New tools: New technologies, such as tablets and e-readers, are helping students learn. These smaller devices offer students advantages over traditional computers, through interactive capabilities that bring lessons to life and enhanced images, video and audio. Tablets also have practical advantages such as “instant on,” all-day battery life, no cords and are often more cost-effective than ordering new text books each year.

Adding more fun: According to Open College, teachers who integrated digital games into lessons saw an increase in average test scores when compared with traditional, non-digital games.

Turn it off: In this digital era, it is also important to make sure students have the time to unplug. Not only does time outside offer children opportunities to get necessary exercise, but a 2009 Yeshiva University study found that children who have more recess time behave better in the classroom and are more likely to learn more.

So how can parents make sure schools have plans to fund programming that supports these new trends? Be proactive. For example, parents can help by nominating a new or existing K-12 program at a local school to win a grant of up to $50,000 from The Clorox Company’s Power a Bright Future Program.

To nominate a school for a chance to win, pick a program category from the fields of “Play,” “Create” or “Explore,” submit a photo and describe the program vision for the school at  Nominations close Oct. 17.