Interviewed by: Sirish Turlapati, Senior Correspondent, Higher Education Plus
Prof. (Dr.) Suresh C. Joshi
Director, Digital & Online Learning
Shree Guru Govind Singh Tricentenary (SGT) University
In today’s rapidly evolving world, technology has become an inseparable part of our daily lives. It has revolutionized various industries, including education. As classrooms transform into digital learning environments, teachers must acquire the essential skills of utilizing technology effectively. Many classroom practitioners, mostly digital immigrants, feel reluctant for using technology in classrooms. As a result, they sideline the need of upskilling themselves from the strategies of integrating technology in the classrooms. Digital natives, students who have grown up in a technology-rich environment, possess unique characteristics and learning preferences. As educators navigate the modern classroom, understanding the psychology behind teaching digital natives is crucial.
This article explores the psychology behind teaching digital natives effectively, highlighting key principles and strategies that educators can employ to optimize their teaching methods. By recognizing the psychological factors that shape the learning experiences of digital natives, teachers can tailor their approaches and create engaging and meaningful learning environments. In addition, the article explores the reasons why technology is a must skill for teachers in today’s classrooms, highlighting its impact on teaching and learning, access to information, differentiation and personalization, collaboration and communication, development of 21st-century skills, career readiness, and student engagement.
The psychology behind teaching digital natives:
Understanding the psychology behind teaching digital natives is vital for educators in today’s classrooms. By recognizing their cognitive flexibility, multitasking tendencies, social inclinations, need for personalization, and digital citizenship concerns, teachers can create effective and engaging learning environments. By leveraging technology, incorporating active learning strategies, promoting collaboration and choice, and addressing digital citizenship, educators can optimize their teaching methods and equip digital natives with the necessary skills for success in the digital age. By incorporating multimedia elements, interactive content, and gamified learning experiences, educators tap into the digital natives’ preference for dynamic and interactive learning environments. This approach encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and multitasking skills. Moreover, teachers can incorporate project-based learning, where students can explore topics of interest and employ digital tools to collaborate, create, and present their work. This enhances engagement and encourages self-directed learning while catering to the digital natives’ inclination for autonomy and creativity.
Digital natives have grown accustomed to multitasking and have developed the ability to manage multiple streams of information simultaneously. However, this skill comes with challenges in maintaining sustained attention. Teachers can address this by employing active learning strategies that require student participation and interaction. Shorter, focused tasks, accompanied by frequent changes in activities or multimedia elements, can help sustain attention and prevent boredom. Additionally, teachers can leverage technology to deliver content in bite-sized, easily digestible formats. This approach aligns with the digital natives’ preference for quick access to information and helps them process and retain knowledge effectively. Balancing structured activities with opportunities for exploration and discovery further promotes engagement and sustains their attention span.
Digital natives are often highly social, valuing collaboration and interaction with peers. To leverage this inclination, teachers can integrate digital platforms and tools that facilitate online collaboration and communication. Virtual discussion forums, shared documents, and collaborative projects foster interaction and provide opportunities for students to work together. Furthermore, incorporating social media or educational networking platforms can create a sense of community, allowing students to connect, share ideas, and engage in meaningful discussions beyond the confines of the physical classroom. Teachers should encourage active participation, group problem-solving, and peer feedback, capitalizing on the digital natives’ preference for social learning experiences. By fostering a collaborative and supportive classroom environment, educators promote the development of interpersonal skills, empathy, and a sense of belonging among digital natives.
Digital natives value personalization and autonomy in their learning experiences. Teachers can leverage technology to provide opportunities for personalization and choice. Adaptive learning software and online platforms offer individualized learning paths, tailoring content and pace to each student’s needs. This approach aligns with the digital natives’ desire for control and self-directed learning. Additionally, educators can provide choices in assignments, allowing students to select topics, formats, or platforms that best suit their interests and learning styles. Providing options empowers digital natives and increases their intrinsic motivation, leading to more meaningful and authentic learning experiences. Teachers should also provide timely and constructive feedback, utilizing technology for efficient communication and personalized guidance. Acknowledging and incorporating students’ preferences and interests fosters a sense of ownership and engagement, optimizing the learning process.
As digital natives navigate the online world, it is essential to address digital citizenship and online safety. Teachers should provide guidance and promote responsible digital behavior, emphasizing the importance of respectful communication, privacy protection, and critical evaluation of online information. Educators can incorporate lessons on digital literacy, media literacy, and ethical use of technology. By fostering digital citizenship, teachers equip digital natives with the necessary skills to navigate the digital landscape safely and responsibly. Additionally, discussing online safety, cyber bullying, and responsible social media use raises awareness and helps students develop resilience and empathy. This proactive approach ensures that digital natives become responsible and ethical users of technology, protecting their well-being, and fostering positive digital interactions.
Why technology is a must skill:
One of the primary reasons why technology is indispensable for teachers is its ability to enhance the teaching and learning process. With the aid of technology, teachers can create multimedia presentations, incorporate educational websites and applications, and employ interactive learning materials. These tools engage students in active learning, catering to various learning styles and promoting a deeper understanding of concepts. By using visual aids, simulations, and online resources, teachers can bring abstract concepts to life, making learning more accessible and engaging for students. The advent of the internet has revolutionized the way information is accessed and shared. Teachers can leverage technology to instantly access vast amounts of information and educational resources. Online libraries, databases, and educational platforms provide teachers with up-to-date materials, research papers, and scholarly articles, enabling them to stay current with advancements in their respective fields. This access to a wide range of information empowers teachers to provide students with accurate and comprehensive content, fostering a culture of critical thinking and evidence-based learning.
Every student is unique, with individual learning preferences and abilities. Technology allows teachers to differentiate instruction and personalize learning experiences. Adaptive learning platforms and educational software provide tailored content and learning pathways based on each student’s needs, allowing them to progress at their own pace. With digital tools, teachers can provide immediate feedback, monitor student progress, and identify areas where additional support is required. This personalized approach to learning promotes student engagement and fosters a supportive learning environment.
Technology plays a crucial role in facilitating collaboration and communication among teachers, students, and parents. Online platforms, email, video conferencing, and learning management systems enable teachers to communicate effectively with students and parents, share assignments and resources, and provide timely feedback. Moreover, digital collaboration tools allow students to work together on projects, engage in discussions, and provide peer feedback. These collaborative experiences not only enhance student learning but also develop essential skills such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving.
In the ever-evolving landscape of the 21st century, students need to develop a diverse set of skills to thrive in the future. Technology integration in classrooms provides opportunities for students to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and digital literacy skills. By incorporating technology into lessons, teachers can create interactive activities, simulations, and real-world projects that require students to utilize technology effectively. These experiences equip students with the necessary skills to navigate and succeed in an increasingly digital and globalized world.
Technology has permeated nearly every profession and industry. By equipping students with technology skills, teachers are preparing them for the future workforce. Regardless of the career path students choose, proficiency in technology is essential for success in the modern job market. By integrating technology into the classroom, teachers ensure that students develop digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, which are highly valued by employers. Moreover, technology enables students to explore and engage with emerging fields, fostering a sense of curiosity and adaptability that is crucial in an ever-changing job market.
Dr. Suresh C. Joshi is a learning design architect with 27 years of experience in classroom teaching and educational administration at various levels in India and in the US. He works on educational technology, learning design & technology, skill development, teacher training, pedagogical innovations, and online learning in higher education. He is working in the education sector for more than 27 years during which he has served in various positions in different schools and universities in India and the US. Currently, he is working as Director of Digital and Online Learning at SGT University, Gurugram. His assignments included classroom teaching, student advising, faculty advising, mentoring, research, instructional designing, and administration. The notable institutions he has worked for are Texas A&M University, Jindal Global University, University of Petroleum & Energy Studies, Ahlcon International Schools, Navy Children School, and Sherwood School. He has published 40 research papers and two books. He is a Center for Teaching Excellence Certified instructor from Texas A&M and is a Fulbright Scholar.