5 Ways Tech Can Strengthen Social and Emotional Learning

Here are 5 Ways Tech Can Strengthen Social and Emotional Learning. Over the past several years, strong evidence has emerged that teaching kids Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills like persisting through failure, showing empathy for others and problem-solving leads to their greater academic achievement, as well as career and life success. Here are 5 Ways Tech Can Strengthen Social and Emotional Learning.

Employers too are increasingly identifying these skills as critical for their workforce. However, in the last couple of months, we’ve seen signs that educators, policymakers, and corporate leaders are also taking these findings seriously. Eight states have joined the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) to create K-12 standards in SEL, and the Aspen Institute just formed a National Commission that includes leaders from Google and the Chan-Zuckerberg Education Foundation, to tackle the challenge of how to implement SEL across K-12.

We’re also seeing a change in how we teach SEL. SEL, which is all about inter- and intrapersonal relationships, has traditionally been taught in-person. Although nothing can replace the support of a caring teacher or mentor, The World Economic Forum released a report this past spring stating that technology should be leveraged to teach SEL. Here are five ways – in the report and beyond – that technology can strengthen your SEL practice:

1. Self-Directed Learning. Kids are more engaged and learn better when they are learning what they want to learn, at their own pace and in their own style. Ripple Effects is an evidence-based digital program that allows students to identify what they feel is the biggest barrier to learning and then move through a personalized skill-building program around that topic.

Students build skills in CASEL’s five identified competencies, but it’s contextualized around what they’re struggling with the most. That could be everything from their parents’ divorce, bullying, body image issues or anxiety. “[Student] buy-in is greater when [they] have more control and choice in their learning environment,” shares lead behavior specialist Dr. Rosie Cooper Neary, who has implemented Ripple Effects across both Escambia and Clark Counties in Georgia. Evidence is through-the-roof for the efficacy of this digital program, specifically with underserved and urban youth.

2. Assessment. Technology allows all kinds of benefits when it comes to measuring SEL skills and mindsets, including performance-based assessment and data capture of early learners. For instance, 3 C Institute’s Quest assessment transforms traditional surveys into an engaging, game-like experience with built-in text-to-speech to remove literacy barriers.

The fully customizable tool can also include performance-based game scenes, where kids play through simulated social scenarios for better measurement of skills like impulse control and emotion regulation. Technology also allows formative assessment or the ability to take “snapshots” of learning to inform instruction. ProExam’s Tessera assessment can be used as a pre-post or to track benchmark progress. Thorough reports then serve as guides to inform lesson planning.

3. Personalization. Technology allows learners to stay in their optimal zone of learning, so they’re neither bored because the content is too easy, nor lost because they can’t keep up. Personalized Learning Games’ Zoo U, social skills role-play game for grades 2-5, uses adaptive technology to find the level of learning of each student, and then challenges and supports the child as needed. Ripple Effects

Ripple Effects personalized learning system provides 13 different modalities for its trauma-informed instruction. Each student personalizes their own pathway, choosing how they want to learn. Choices include a scenario-based case study, step-by-step skill training, peer modeling via video, journaling, real-world transfer training and assignments and subjective self-assessment. Only technology can effectively tailor instruction to the varied needs of a group of learners at one time.

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Jessica Berlinski brings fifteen years of experience leading innovative non-profits and for-profits to her work helping educators and SEL leaders scale impact and best leverage technology to meet their goals.  Although nothing will ever replace the support of a caring teacher or mentor, Berlinski is dedicated to leveraging digital innovation to help kids thrive and to achieve educational equity.Follow her on Twitter: @BerlinskiJess

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