Categories: E-learning, Education Methods, Technology
Tags: education, Technology
With our recent Agency pilot, I was amazed to see how kids interact with software. It has been a while since I’ve been in junior high, so it was an experience seeing how they dealt with each other and with technology. What I came away with was that technology was a way to enhance their experience with education, and seeing their excitement about science really made me a believer in how social media and peer interactivity can enhance the learning experience.
Agency is a program that guides junior high kids through a curriculum as determined by the educators. It is a platform, not a course. Any type of curriculum can be put into it. The kids choose a character and are awarded skill points based on other students’ reviews. They also receive badges and can talk to each other on a Facebook style stream.
Kids love to talk to each other. With Agency, they kept changing their names and trying to guess each other’s identity. Does this say something about what it’s like to be a kid? Is it fun to imagine yourself as someone else and let others be in the dark about your true nature? I learned that interaction is king; young adults are all about working with each other, whether it’s posturing about how great their assignment was or giving accolades to other fellow students for a job well done.
It’s true that social media has changed the dynamics of our lives, but why? We were able to talk to each other before. Social media has just intertwined our technology with our need for interaction; it has made it so that our devices come alive. We are more than our machines, and drawing kids in means melding technology with their day to day lives in a way that is fun and engaging for them.
They craved to be reviewed by other students; they wanted their approval. That is the heart of what the Agency project is all about. Education can be fun, but it needs to be challenging and interactive as well. Seeing the results of our pilot, I think that software can be a catalyst for learning; in fact, learning and software can be joined in a way that makes education a real life experience, rather than a dry chapter in a textbook.