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social and emotional learning

3 ways to use tech in social and emotional learning


As students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, social and emotional learning, supported by technology, can help build in-demand skills

Social and emotional learning skills can help students succeed in a digital economy, and technology can play a crucial part in establishing a strong social and emotional learning foundation.

According to New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology, a report from the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group, social and emotional skills are critical to the future workforce, because this type of learning addresses skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking–all essential skills in the current and future workforce.

These skills, sometimes considered hard to measure or assess, are especially important because many children entering elementary school now will eventually work in jobs that today do not exist. Creative approaches to critical thinking and problem-solving will prove invaluable as jobs continue to evolve and focus on social skills, according to the report.

Technology can help deliver social and emotional learning both efficiently and effectively, the authors assert.

“We see technology as a tool that a parent, educator or caregiver can use to complement and extend the learning experience–especially given the host of emerging technologies that go beyond traditional screens. Technologies such as virtual, augmented and ‘mixed’ reality; robots; video chats on mobile devices; and virtual tutors allow for a much less passive and more interactive experience,” they write in the report.

Next page: Three key opportunities for stakeholders

The authors surveyed more than 2,000 educators, spoke with education and technology experts, and examined other factors to compile a list of learning strategies and technology features most pivotal in social and emotional learning’s success.

Their research led to three key opportunities to use technology in promoting social and emotional learning:

Capitalize on what works: Parents, educators and caregivers can benefit from ed-tech products with featuring that already promote social and emotional learning.

Embed social and emotional learning into foundational ed-tech products: Finding innovative ways to embed social and emotional learning features into products that support foundational academic skills can help spread social and emotional learning to areas where there are already investments.

Expand the realm of the possible: New technologies such as wearable devices and virtual reality can help students master social and emotional skills. They also offer potential for new learning strategies.

Barriers to spreading social and emotional learning through technology do exist, as noted by the authors, and they include limited awareness, insufficient prioritization, lack of consensus about measurements, low levels of funding and resources, and an inadequate supply of programs and products.

Stakeholders have key roles to play when it comes to promoting social and emotional learning through technology, according to the authors.

Policy makers, educators, parents, researchers, and technology developers will have to combine their efforts to prioritize efforts that make social and emotional learning a top goal.

Developing standards and ratings processes should be a key stakeholder priority, according to the report, along with creating social and emotional learning pilots or programs and focusing on funding and other resources to support such programs.

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Laura Ascione

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