Words by Aaditya Tangri, Co-Founder & CEO of Kalebr Americas and Founder of STEAMathalon
There is now no question that in the future, student learning will supersede the classical curriculum and learning formula that we know today. Students will become partners to their own education, partaking in real-world and digital experiences that allow collaboration, communication and teamwork for all students beyond classroom walls. Therefore, we need to facilitate these experiences using the "native" tools of modern learners, equipping the youth and preparing them for their future workplaces, which ultimately should be reflected in the classroom.
Education institutions are beginning to adapt to these developments, and group resources and mechanisms, such as social media, are being implemented into the systems to improve the learning experience. While social media has come to carry the reputation of being a distraction from engagement, learning and overall well being, increasingly we are seeing examples of how the positive use of social media in education can actually benefit students. This is achieved through the ability to identify more useful information, connect with learning groups and systems, and make education and learning more convenient, more worldly, and present wider opportunities for both student and teacher.
Through the use of digital platforms, teachers can connect with students and incorporate social media into their lessons, making them more interesting, relatable and engaging. Social network tools also afford educators with multiple opportunities to improve and support learning methods, and students can further benefit from online tutorials and resources shared through social networks and LMS’s (learning management systems). As digital platforms carve out their place in the classroom, the role of the teacher is effectively reinvented to also entail social media community outreach, providing a safe social network for learners to create, consume and learn. With that, teachers are championing their classrooms through sharing, interacting and publishing posts to reach their extended network of educators, learners and parents.
Undoubtedly, social media can be leveraged as an excellent education support tool, and teaching professionals who use it to their advantage in the classroom are likely to find improved outcomes when it comes to student engagement. It is a medium that today's generation of students are so naturally familiar with and consistently engaged in.
Mark McCrindle, a futurist, demographer and TEDx speaker, is spearheading the campaign to coin any person born after 2010 a part of "Generation Alpha". This generation is growing up in a world where every aspect of communication, entertainment, social activities, private and school lives blur with technology and social media. This generation are the so-called “digital natives” who have grown up with information technology and social media, and to whom devices feel a natural extension of themselves. By contrast, their parents and grandparents, even if they have access to the same technology, will never have the same relationship with it. These massive technological changes, among others, make this generation perhaps one of the most transformative.
Generation Alpha is also comprised of a cohort of digital strategists and content editors (even if they are unaware of it), who are challenging perceived ideas. While they may be actively seeking online experiences, they have learned to be extremely calculated in how they present their personal brand, creating strict strategies around how, when and where they are seen.
It’s not just that this generation is tech-savvy – technology is omnipresent in today’s world, which also dramatically alters the trajectory of commerce and growth. With technology playing such an immense role in nearly every industry, the next generation is learning the right skills, such as problem-solving, multi-tasking, collaboration, and relying on their creativity and imagination for their future career opportunities. At the same time, technology is making educational opportunities more available than ever before.
A recent piece in the Sydney Morning Herald by Mary Ward illustrated the recent trends in the modern teacher's dual role of educator and community outreach manager. It described the rise of what might be termed the “teacher-influencer” – in particular, the growing number of primary school teachers using Instagram to showcase their classrooms to a wider online audience with the aim of promoting students' response to their teaching methods and related success.
Examples such as these also draw attention to the phenomenon of a new generation of teachers who are now legitimate “micro-celebrities” within the world of education. In layman terms, these are teachers with tens of thousands of followers on social media. Amy Groesbeck is part of a growing community of people that are teachers by day and Instagram influencers by night. A third-grade teacher with over 93,000 Instagram followers, she is part of a new group of education influencers who share photos of their classrooms, various learning products they use and specific items they have created to make the classroom fun and one-of-a-kind.
Indeed, social media is a place where some teachers are undoubtedly finding communities of like-minded colleagues and making valuable connections with other education professionals around the world. In this sense, social media is an incredibly useful channel for teachers to gather ideas, keep up to date with developments in education internationally, and promote what they are doing within their own classrooms to wider community networks.
Social media websites contain an abundance of different information with millions of links to other resources that can be incredibly valuable to student learning and discovery. For example, with the proliferation of video content across social media, community managers are presented with another prominent tool that can be leveraged in the classroom to inspire students in course subject areas and specific learning disciplines. Through social mediums such as YouTube, Facebook or Instagram live video, engagements between students and the community managers can be sustained.
While some institutions are still navigating uncharted territory to find a way to include social media in the curriculum, a select few in Dubai are paving the way for others and working towards future-proofing their children. These leaders are innovative, ready to challenge old notions and transform teaching as well as learning. They aim to equip their students with the knowledge, skills and qualifications required for their future. In doing so, they are also maximising learning opportunities offered by digital technology and flexible learning spaces.
Dubai British School, JESS Arabian Ranches, Nord Anglia International School and The Oxenford School are a few such examples of institutions creating "tomorrow's classroom”, by championing the development of their young learners with the support of Kalebr, whose products promote 21st-century skills, well-being, sustainability, making, coding, innovation and social media for students of all ages.
By having introduced Kalebr's STEAMathalon to their learning programs, these schools are tapping into the equitable access of several high-quality, scalable and engaging learning tools, support and resources for teachers and students, all the while in-building technology for both educators and learners to share their world-changing insights and innovations with global networks through social media. Since its inception Kalebr's commitment to excellence for learners of all ages has seen over 60,000 young makers across 70 countries collaborate, resulting in a reach of over 30,000 social media fans worldwide.
Kalebr's STEAMathalon demonstrate how the application of technological advancements is revolutionising the education experience. STEAMathalon provides a framework for promoting global collaboration, creative thinking, tolerance and well-being through a real-world challenge in a competitive play-based innovation league. The initiative promotes an inclusive environment, mimicking future workplace settings, where learners tackle global challenges.