Learning through technology

The pandemic and social distancing prompted the launch of a new learning process, which has been fully experienced since then. Technology emerges as a great ally, as it ultimately allows the school to reach each student’s home.

We have been lending a new approach to digital culture, breaking preconceived ideas, overcoming limits, rearranging it. And by doing so, we have been able to confirm its strength, when used in an attentive, affective, ethical and meaningful manner, in favor of both individuality and collective interaction – including in the school environment.

For be.Living’s Elementary School coordinator, Gabriela Fernandes, the pandemic forced all those involved – schools, education professionals and the children, with a direct impact on all course structures – to take a deeper and further step into the world of technology, an intense movement that perhaps would not be undertaken spontaneously. “That was already rooted in our way of functioning, but with the suspension of in-school classes, there was a huge leap towards a deeper look at these learning tools. Distance education brought about several changes in content regarding our initial goals. New targets were added, guided by this improved knowledge on technology and the different means of communication, which are actually described in the BNCC (the Brazilian Common Curricular Base)”.

Online presentations, e-mails, websites, videos, podcasts and so many other tools have become fundamental means for the children to exchange insights, “feel close”, communicate, access and produce knowledge, solve problems and practice leadership through creativity, playfulness and interactivity. “We have been delightfully witnessing the children break through and become more independent, being able to carry out the activities proposed online with the help of their families or even alone, effectively discovering new skills and capabilities within themselves”, Gabi states.

For Year 1 teacher Dedé Ladeira, children’s technology gains wouldn’t be happening to the same extent within the “regular” classroom teaching context. “We take things very slowly to allow them to experience the learning process in their own pace. It all happened very suddenly: children had to learn how to deal with technology in no time. They are now exposed to a much greater deal of information, on the keyboard, on the screen, but they’re not intimidated to push the buttons. They dare to do it and acquire knowledge. Technological development is what distance learning has most strongly provided the children with. If we were having classes within the school premises, they wouldn’t be as immersed in technology as they are now”.

Dedé believes that families play a very important role within this whole process. “It is an opportunity for parents to learn to trust their children, so that they can take a chance on their learning. The bolder they are, the fastest they’ll grow”.

Year 2 teacher Lize Marchini says that in this remote learning process through technological tools, it was also important to discuss and establish along with the children some behavior guidelines for online classes to enable a more focused and attentive distance learning environment. “We proposed rules for Zoom meetings, such as not changing the screen background and not being distracted by toys during classes. This imposed condition of having to learn physically away from school, on digital platforms, is causing the children to mature in many ways”. She adds that, under these circumstances, boys and girls are having to organize themselves and manage their time and tasks, developing independence in an unprecedented speed. “We guide them, but ultimately they need to plan their own routines. And they are responding very well to this enhanced need. They’ve been managing to participate, interact and contribute to a better day-to-day experience”.

Year 5 teacher Letícia Araujo says she used to worked with digital tools to help improve children’s skills as students and develop their independence before the pandemic, but in face-to-face teaching, learning times are different. “Some actions would take the whole year to happen or be achieved, but children are accomplishing them now. Children are arranging their own routines and work spaces at home”.

She explains that distance education greatly depends on children when it comes to organization. “They have to access their e-mails, learn how to enter the online classrooms… We introduced the tools, but they also provide us with insightful perceptions. For example, we frequently used Google Docs, presentations to draft routine formats, but we wanted to create a more attractive, fun system. So, we added Trello. We also use Loom, which allows the children to record their computer screens and we can see them accessing their e-mails. It is an easy tool to help clarify access doubts. And they follow on, making up their own methods. And they can see us working as well. When they realize that we are also on a learning process, they set out to deepen their knowledge and help us.

At the moment, Year 5 is producing a news show. Letícia explains that they started the process with a certain tool, but after a while they chose to change to it, as it wasn’t working as expected. “Observing this exchange of experiences take place is great. We encourage children to adopt a proactive attitude, suggest tools, experiment, exchange knoweledge – because we want to disseminate learning as collective process. But children need to find meaning on the process to fully experience it. And we are constantly seeking to provide them with such meaningful learning”. 

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