Social and Emotional Learning + Technology Education

This Compatible Combo hits Classrooms

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Technology Education?  Traditionally these are not two subjects that we would lump together.  However, as SEL is increasingly becoming mandatory curriculum in schools, educators must determine where to fit SEL in.  We know that SEL is already being integrated into core subjects so why not incorporate SEL into Technology Education?

After all, SEL has weaved its way into our daily vernacular.  Here at EdGate, our team of standards alignment subject matter experts (SMEs) is as comfortable talking about the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) standards as they are talking about NGSS standards.  And in addition to CASEL, states continue to publish their own SEL standards.  So yes, SEL is happening.

Separately, students are being immersed into Technology Education.  They are learning how to code. They are learning about AR and VR.  They are being immersed into technology that brings learning to life.  But could SEL and Technology Education actually be combined?  Industry professional say yes.

Blending Technology with the Real Life Practice of Social Skills

“In many cases people think that the SEL and Technology Education are at odds with each other,” says Christopher Dudick, CEO of SiLAS, a gamified learning company that enables educators to help students build social skills.  “After all, how can someone be social if they are on a computer or a phone?  But without a doubt technology is here to stay and it is extremely engaging to students.  Our belief is that if you build the right technology-based platform and combine it with SEL curriculum in a positive way it can be a wonderful solution.”

In a nutshell, using the SiLAS program, students write a script that describes how they might handle a situation more effectively, e.g. cooperating with a classmate.  The students then select avatars that represent them, the proper background, then create and record a real time animated video that models a more constructive interaction. All of this is achieved using video-game controllers and headset microphones, resembling a student’s favorite video game.

Time to shake things up; it’s the 21st Century

Headsets?  X-Box controllers?  How the classroom has changed!  In fact, per Charles Fadel, “The last major changes to curriculum were effected in the late 1800s as a response to the sudden growth in societal and human capital needs.”  Fadel is the Founder and Chairman of the Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) and author of several books including co-authoring the best-selling book 21st Century Skills, as well as Four Dimensional Education, and his most recent book, Artificial Intelligence in Education.  “As the world of the 21st century bears little resemblance to that of the 19th century, education curricula need to be deeply redesigned,” Fadel says.

Fadel agrees that teachers are already stretched for time and just throwing more onto the pile does not help if not part of the normal teaching of disciplines.  This is the case around the world:  the teaching of “21st century skills” and “SEL” is generally thrown on top of everything else.  So what is CCR doing to help solve this problem?

CCR has created a four-dimensional “4D” framework by painstakingly synthesizing 45+ educational frameworks from around the world through a multi-year research effort.  The framework focuses on knowledge (what to know and understand), skills (how to use knowledge), character (how to behave and engage in the world), and meta-learning (how to reflect and adapt, by “learning how to learn”). Character is what educators in the U.S have come to know as “SEL” and consists of six essential qualities which thoughtfully encompass the 200+ words thrown around in this field: Mindfulness, Curiosity, Courage, Resilience, Ethics, and Leadership.  These qualities are meant to express any existing SEL standards in a way that makes them actionable, by developing several layers of subsequent specificity:  Competencies > Subcompetencies > Proficiency levels > Pedagogical practices, in the context of eight disciplines including Technology Education.

Therefore, publishers and teachers will gain via CCR an engineering-like process to explicitly embed the competencies into Technology Education curriculum (or other disciplines) in a way that is “deliberate, comprehensive, systematic and demonstrable” as CCR says.  The CCR framework combined with CCR’s large idea bank of pedagogical practices will assist organizations in incorporating Character, Skills and Meta-Learning education directly into curriculum and disciplines.

The classroom is not only looking different because students are sporting AR/VR Goggles and newfangled headsets; it looks different because SEL is now playing a much larger role in the classroom. And who couldn’t use a dose of ethics, curiosity, or courage?

Gina Faulk is the GM at EdGate Correlation Services, the leading company to offer content mapping to global educational performance standards and scalable methods to prepare educational content for the classroom.  Gina has over 20 years of experience in publishing, previously working for Learning.com and Macmillan Publishing Solutions.  As the GM at EdGate she focuses on business development and offering the highest level of technology and customer service to EdGate’s 250+ clients. 

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