In the past 12 months, life has completely changed for nearly every one. Many families are working from home. Many children are learning from home. And, nearly every interaction and engagement in modern day life is facilitated by technology.
You can’t put gas in your car without using a payment system powered by technology. You can’t purchase groceries without using a point of sale system powered by technology. You can’t run an errand without using a mapping system powered by technology. You can’t work from home without utilizing infrastructure powered by technology.
For many years, technology has been considered a nice to have. The past several months have revealed that we can no longer allow our children to have such a casual relationship with technology. Children with high speed access and powerful laptop or desktop computers at home have been better able to navigate the remote learning environment.
Beyond just a better infrastructure, those who are familiar with computational thinking or problem solving within a technology based environment have been more resilient when handling the inevitable challenges that often happen when using technology. Whether it is the internet crashing or an application not initializing, you are seeing a widening gap between those who are comfortable with technology and those who are not.
Students who have built familiarity with technology are not bothered when something goes wrong. In fact, they often know how to resolve issues without a parents intervention. Those who are not as comfortable often have to request help that may not be immediately available due to their parents work commitments. This often leads to a minor problem being compounded and gives students less and less confidence that technology is for them.
For those parents who work in technology, it is quite likely that there was little to no impact on their employment due to the pandemic. During the past several economic crises, unemployment within technology based fields is among the lowest of all working professionals. Once the final accounting is done, it is likely that the pandemic will remain consistent with prior trends. In fact, many large tech employers were some of the first to close down offices. Beyond this, technology powered firms like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google brought in record profits.
Over the past several months, we have all come to the conclusion that the best places for kids to learn is in a school environment with a teacher who is dedicated to their instruction. However, we can not allow technology not to come alongside our students when they return to the classroom later this year or next year.
Technology-powered learning environments and computational-based thinking must become the standard within our classrooms going forward. Students need to understand technology at a foundational and fundamental level. If we ignore the lessons of the past year and assume that we can simply return our classrooms to the status quo where technology is a nice to have versus a mandatory building block, we will be doing our children a disservice.
Although none of us could have predicted how our lives would change because of the pandemic. Let us not forget the ways in which technology has shown its primary role within how we get things done within our society. The best way that we can acknowledge this lesson is by accelerating teaching our kids how technology works and how they can ultimately become the creators of future technologies going forward.