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Advanced technology is now available to students at a moment’s notice. From smartphones to augmented reality, education is embracing the use of technology at all levels. Though its initial applications were used to reduce pressure on teachers, it has now spread into lesson plans and student activities.
The educational applications of artificial intelligence and advanced technology initially focused on alleviating repetitive tasks for teachers. Computer programs are increasingly used to grade increasingly complex tests and soon entire papers will be graded this way. Technology has learned to react to student input and learning styles, creating new classroom opportunities and challenges.
Teachers have been talking for years about how to teach certain skills by utilizing technology that is available to us. Critical analysis of supposedly valid information is necessary now more than ever. To create the next generation of users and employees that thinks critically about what they consume, what are some ways that teachers can teach critical thinking skills to their students?
Increase Collaboration and Engagement
The development of critical thinking skills is one of the most important skills for students at all levels. Analyzing and synthesizing a variety of critical thinking in adults. One way to foster this in your classroom is to use free collaborative resources through websites like google and Strawpoll.
Assignments to poll classmates, analyze the results, and draw conclusions engage students in data collection. This can be used for many subjects and can help students connect with the people and communities that contribute to data collection. Use it in English classes, for example, to analyze how different groups respond to themes in a book. In an environmental sciences class, show how different groups interact with their ecosystems.
Gamified learning is another opportunity for teachers to create fun, effective activities. While technology is not a prerequisite for gamifying your classroom, it greatly assists the process. Many tutoring programs work on these principles, and critical thinking skills are built by the puzzle and reward aspect of games. Gamification reinforces the information learned on a psychological level through repeated reward systems. Students learn that independent acquisition of information and its application are their own rewards.
Take Your Students Out of the Classroom
Similarly, you can capitalize on the technology that students carry with them as a matter of routine. Geocaching can increase teamwork and develop critical thinking skills. By engaging students outside the walls of the classroom, you can teach them to find their own resources and draw their own conclusions.
Virtual reality systems can help teachers expand their curriculums. They can take class field trips without ever having to leave their seats, and engage students more actively in their learning by utilizing technology that makes knowledge centers more accessible and allows students to gather first-hand information. You can use this technology to take a class on a field trip, and have them gather information from the exhibits. Blend technology with traditional fact-finding games to engage them even further.
Applications of virtual and augmented reality in education gained notoriety early on. Virtual reality requires specialized equipment to create a 360-degree interactive environment for students, while augmented reality (AR) utilizes much simpler technology. Students use their phone and an app to interact with information, games, and data that is projected into their physical environment in real-time. This can help students learn about data collection, and to gamify their learning.
A key opportunity that technology affords us is connection. Bring experts into your classroom and teach students the value of learning directly from a source. Build your students’ confidence in interacting with and questioning how experts present information by encouraging your students to ask questions. This can also lead to extensive research seeking out differing opinions and methods of research or process.
Classroom technology can also let you display many approaches to the same problems through the use of smart boards and interactive activities. This fosters greater engagement by helping students find methodologies that work best for them, while actively analyzing processes. You can instill critical thinking when it comes to data analysis and gathering, as well as the statements that are drawn from it.
Another critical way that you can get students engaged is by soliciting their feedback. Use surveys and polls to gather information from your students, giving them a direct impact on their education. You can also illustrate the differences in how data is interpreted, and teach students about the manipulation of data. Teach students how to accurately represent their data, and how others may manipulate it, to teach them to be critical of supposedly well-researched claims.
The use of technology is a growing topic as the resources available to us continue to expand. By using these tools to engage your students, you can help them find their way of learning and can instill life-long critical thinking skills. Using team and community-oriented tactics, you can teach your students the proper way to present information. You can also teach them that information can be manipulated, and to be critical of both how information has been gathered and the conclusions that are drawn from it. With these tools, you can help create future adults who can critically evaluate anything that crosses their path.