Parenting Tips for the Digital Classroom

What can we expect learning to look like in 2015? Here we outline the top trends in education and provide some expert tips to help parents best prepare for the year ahead.

More than three million school students - (including those starting Kindergarten) have returned to school this year and are set to be the some of the most technologically advanced children to date.

How we educate these young Aussies is continuing to change and evolve - both at school and in the home. Leading Education Expert Richard Olsen shares the latest trends on the education front and provides his top tips for parents to help them best prepare and help their kids use this technology. 

1. A creative new future

This year expect to see the introduction of more creative, hands-on electronics through devices such as 3D printers and MaKey MaKey - an invention kit which can link every day objects to the internet. For example, your child could even play the piano using bananas! As this technology becomes more accessible, it will be easier for children to learn, create and explore, so they are equipped with the skills to become the engineers and architects of tomorrow.

2. Coding, the new ABC's

Whilst programming has existed in the curriculum for a few years now, most schools don't currently teach students how to write computer code (and if they do, it's only an elective). This year should see a push for more classes in this field as the demand for these skills in the workforce increases.

3. Move from the physical to the digital

Nothing becomes obsolete over night, however eBooks are now becoming more of a practical and cost effective option over the trusty textbook. For higher learning, lecture rooms will continue to move from the physical to the digital - with videos and podcasts making it easier and more flexible for students to learn.

The humble school excursion is up for a bit of a make-over. The idea of 'video excursions', made possible by faster broadband in the classroom and at home will see students able to access experts and locations all across the globe.

4. The 24-hour classroom

Advancements in technology, along with fast and accessible Internet access, means that homework and at-home learning is no longer an isolated and unassisted activity. Students can now use text messages, email and other communication apps to both collaborate with other students and ask for teacher assistance outside of school hours if needed.

5. Modern learning

The increasing use of flipped classrooms (where students watch or listen to lessons outside of school via videos and podcasts) enables a different and more flexible way of learning through things such as high definition video conferencing, making international collaboration for students and teachers possible. It’s also become much easier for teachers to share learning materials with their local and global counterparts via intranets and cloud storage devices.

6. Mini mentors

Lastly and probably one of the most exciting changes is that children these days have become creators as well as consumers. We now see children making their own videos, writing blogs, and uploading videos to YouTube. Not only are they celebrating their achievements, they’re also sharing their discoveries and providing assistance and instruction for others.

Top Tips for Parents

It's easy to support your child's learning and help them prepare for a more digitally-equipped classroom with a few simple pointers - 

1. Read up on apps

For both education and leisure, read up on apps to stay current and encourage children to try new programs. The more exposed children are to new things, the quicker they can adapt and learn things in the classroom.

2. Provide technology

Where possible, provide up-to-date technology and access to the Internet. If you don't have access in your own home, you can still provide exposure via trips to the library, community centres, etc.

3. Encourage creativity 

Encourage children to use technology  as a creative and productive outlet. For example, create a private Instagram account where children can post their own pictures. You could even give them a challenge, such as upload a photo that makes you happy, sad, laugh, etc.

4. Exercise good security practices

Encourage children to be discerning when reading information online. Whilst the Internet is an endless source of great information, children should exercise good security practices and be equipped to differentiate between reliable and non-reliable sources. Suggestions for equipping your kids include:

- Teaching them how to establish strong passwords to remain safe when online
- Helping them to fact check sites and videos to make sure they are a reliable source of facts
- Where to look to figure out if a site, person or article is trustworthy


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