Technology can help students feel connected

Posted on Thursday, 4/18/2013 5:54 pm

There is no denying that many of today's students are not only comfortable with technology, but have fun using it as well. For this reason, teachers may have embraced software for students, or considered the educational benefits of a virtual classroom format. 

While different forms of technology, from smartphones to social media websites, have proven their worth as learning tools, teachers and parents should not underestimate the role they can play in bringing students together as well. Everything from Facebook to text messages have been accused of robbing people of valuable face-to-face time, but new research reveals that technology can actually strengthen the bonds between students.

To gain a sense of how tech-savvy today's youth is, people need only turn to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life project, which reveals that 93 percent of teenagers own a computer or have access to one at home, while 78 percent of teenagers have a cell phone. In total, roughly 23 percent of teenagers have their own tablet computer – a percentage that is close to the amount of adults who also own this particular device, according to the report.

With so many teenagers using technology on a regular basis, it is likely that a number of them have grown comfortable communicating with their friends and family using technological solutions.

This is apparent based on the findings of a study Education Week recently highlighted. Lauren Sherman, a psychology researcher at the Children's Digital Media Center@Los Angeles, worked with 50 pairs of friends who were 18 and 19 years of age as they made plans in the same room via videoconferencing, instant messaging and audio-only chat technology.

When the study participants communicated using video chats, they reported feeling the highest level of social interaction. From Sherman's perspective, this shows that the closer a technological experience is to a real-life experience, the more effective its results.

"This suggests that efforts to use technologies that afford audiovisual communication [such as] video chat could allow for a far greater bonding experience in digital collaborative-learning environments," said Sherman, as quoted by the news source.

With this information in mind, it may be in teachers and parents' best interest to find technology that enhances students' learning, but also helps them feel as though they are still connected with one another.

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