Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology Report: Keynotes

To thrive in the 21st century, students need more than traditional academic learning. They must be adept at collaboration, communication and problem-solving, which are some of the skills developed through social and emotional learning.

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group, prepared industry agenda New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology. We analysed this report and noted the most important things and insights to save our readers time. 

In 2015, the World Economic Forum published a report that focused on the pressing issue of the 21st-century skills gap and ways to address it through technology (New Vision for Education: Unlocking the Potential of Technology). In that report, a set of 16 crucial proficiencies for education in the 21st century was defined. Those skills include six “foundational literacies”, such as literacy, numeracy and scientific literacy, and 10 skills that labelled either “competencies” or “character qualities”.

Competencies are the means by which students approach complex challenges; they include collaboration, communication and critical thinking and problem-solving. Character qualities are the ways in which students approach their changing environment; they include curiosity, adaptability and social and cultural awareness. This report is a follow up on 2015 report by exploring how these competencies and character qualities do more than simply deepen 21st-century skills.

Critical advantage of SEL

Social and emotional skills are critical to the workforce of the future. The kinds of skills that SEL addresses, such as problem-solving and collaboration, are increasingly necessary for the labour market. According to one estimate, 65% of children entering grade school will ultimately work in jobs that don’t exist today, putting creativity, initiative and adaptability at a premium.

SEL will prepare today’s students for this evolving workplace, with consequent benefits for individuals, businesses, the economy and society. And SEL potentially leads to long-term benefits such as higher rates of employment and educational attainment. The earlier adoption of SEL will help to embed it in the core curriculum throughout a child’s schooling.

The promise of education technology

Education technology has the potential to play a pivotal role in fostering SEL efficiently and cost-effectively. 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.

More than 2000 educators and parents around the world were surveyed and education and technology experts were interviewed to understand the landscape. As a result, a high-priority list of the learning strategies and technology features that are most critical to promoting SEL was developed.

  • Capitalize on what works. Parents, educators and caregivers can bene t from existing “ed-tech” products with features that already promote SEL;
  • Embed SEL into foundational ed-tech products. Creatively embedding SEL features into products that support foundational academic skills such as literacy and numeracy can extend SEL to areas where the vast majority of investment is already owing;
  • Expand the realm of the possible. Innovative new technologies – such as wearable devices, virtual reality and apps – can enable students to master important social and emotional skills;

Main challenges

Several barriers stand in the way of achieving the full benefits of SEL and related technologies, including limited awareness, insufficient prioritization, a lack of consensus about measurements, low levels of funding and resources and an inadequate supply of programmes and products. In addition, stakeholders still lack consensus on the definition of SEL and a means of assessing implementation and measuring outcomes.

The widespread use of technology in classrooms also lacks implementing. For example, while many parents and educators in the survey recognize that SEL matters and see the potential for ed-tech to build social and emotional skills, they do not fully understand which technologies hold the most promise or how best to use them. Another barrier is the perception that technology is little more than additional screen time for children that threatens to displace human interaction.

The leading roles of stakeholders

Based on the analysis, researchers believe that believe it will take the combined efforts of a group of stakeholders – including policy-makers, educators, parents, researchers, businesses, technology developers and investors – to overcome the challenges facing both SEL and related education technologies. It means that policy-makers, in particular, must stand at the forefront of setting the agenda for policy change, prioritizing efforts that foster SEL and related assessments and measurements in education. The development of standards and ratings should be a top priority.

Because of its wide-ranging impact, SEL has the potential to change how parents’ guide their children’s development and how schools shape their curricula. Effective SEL programming begins in preschool and continues through high school. SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful.

Author: AI For Education


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