Education insights

Four ways technology can strengthen and streamline SEL   

Today’s classrooms operate much differently than they did even five years ago. It is not just that schools have moved to using 1:1 devices — they have also started to focus more on strengthening students’ 1:1 relationships with others and themselves.

As technology has unleashed new opportunities for students to explore topics on their own and enjoy more personalized learning experiences, social-emotional learning (SEL) has become even more important. Today’s edtech-centric learning environment rewards students who can foster skills like self-efficacy, focus, and good digital citizenship. Moreover, the evolving threats posed by the internet demand that students be able to navigate the world with social and emotional maturity in order to protect themselves, each other and their data and devices.

Focusing on SEL helps students improve their ability to cope with their own feelings, set and persist toward goals, and find more common ground when collaborating with others.

Edtech like LanSchool and LanSchool Air are designed to support the implementation of SEL into classroom teaching in addition to the usual curriculum. Here are four examples of how edtech can strengthen and streamline the teaching of SEL in the classroom:

1. Maximizes time to allow for teacher well-being and relationship building with students.

As technology becomes more engrained in a typical classroom setup, the need for a way to fight growing distractions becomes vital. Teachers need to keep their students organized and on-track with current tasks to maximize their time spent teaching and working individually with students.

The integration of solutions like classroom management software like LanSchool help to streamline lesson planning and help classrooms run more efficiently by addressing the following common time wasters:

Digital distractions

Without the right tools in place, digital devices can easily become a distraction to students with access to the internet. It’s vital that teachers have the ability to actively block websites that are keeping their students off-task. Teachers require the ability to monitor students’ screens to identify the distractions and then instantly block those sites without needing an IT team member’s support.

Transitioning between activities

Transitions between lessons and activities are notoriously challenging for classrooms. These moments can tempt students to talk, travel to different websites, and otherwise lose focus on their learning. This transition becomes easier when teachers are able to blank students’ device screens to redirect their focus to the teacher’s instruction. It is also helpful if teachers can send all student devices to the same website with the click of a button, eliminating the human error and downtime that inevitably occur when students must manually navigate to the same URL.

Disruptions during focus time

When students are working independently, teachers often don’t want to disturb the entire class when an issue with one student arises. When teachers have to break a classroom’s silence in order to instruct a singular student or correct an unwanted behavior, it can take the rest of the class off course. Having the ability to chat discreetly with individual students or groups of students eliminates the need for disruptive verbal instruction and enables students to continue to focus on their individual tasks.

2. Facilitates safer communications and digital check-ins.

Today’s students have their own vast online personas, with or without technology in schools. The proliferation of social media, online gaming, and other collaborative forums has created a new form of interpersonal victimization — cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying has grown to be one of the most common forms of bullying for students, arising a need for specialized tools that can identify and address potential incidents in the classroom. Advanced web filters, like Lenovo NetFilter+, allow teachers and administrators to monitor the internet activity of students down to their individual keystrokes to identify potentially concerning conversations and web searches — specifically those that indicate cyberbullying or thoughts of self-harm or violence.

Once teachers and administrators are alerted to these conversations, they can be reviewed to determine whether intervention is needed. This collaboration between educators and the artificial intelligence present in the Lenovo NetFilter+ technology can be crucial in identifying and addressing cyberbullying and other concerning behaviors that may normally go unseen.

3. Engages and supports English language learner (ELL) students.

School districts like St. Cloud Area School District in St. Cloud, Minnesota have leveraged edtech to ease the transition to the United States for their largely ELL student population. Often these students are not only new to English, but also to the specialized technology and processes in place, creating a steep learning curve when starting in a 1:1-enabled school.

LanSchool is helping teachers build individual relationships with their ELL students while helping ease their transition by enabling them to engage in 1:1 chat messaging that gives them a safe way to ask questions, receive direction, and receive individual assistance if needed without calling attention to them in front of the entire class.

Moreover, teachers can use the Blank Screen and Push Website features to help students get on the same page without having to individually troubleshoot the transition that may be challenging for new tech users.

Keystroke monitoring technology also analyzes conversations in more than 40 languages. This is important for ELL students, who may be more susceptible to mental health challenges and feelings of isolation as they transition into a new environment.

4. Enhances learning opportunities.

One of the most important promises of technology in supporting SEL is the ability to enable personalized learning. Even if teachers are not able to fully personalize their curriculum for each student, edtech allows for them to make small adjustments to individual student journeys that add up to important SEL gains for students as they go through their academic life.

For example, some students consistently finish their work before others. The resulting downtime can cause these students to become susceptible to disciplinary problems or boredom. When teaching time is so precious, these wasted minutes or hours can add up to a missed opportunity.

Teachers can use LanSchool to recognize when students have finished tasks before their peers and discreetly direct those students toward additional resources, lessons, or extra credit opportunities. On the other hand, teachers can recognize when a student is struggling and may need additional help without distracting others around them. This is a small way of personalizing learning that can add up to important gains over the course of a school year. Additionally, downtime could be used to put SEL into practice. Teachers can point students toward digital games and other SEL resources, turning this previously wasted time into a valuable experience.

Pairing technologies for a powerful SEL experience

One of the key messages of SEL is that no two people are exactly alike — and neither are any two classrooms. Teachers who are serious about using technology to drive SEL improvements may need to dive in and try a few tools and strategies to see what works for their curriculum and students.

LanSchool and Lenovo NetFilter+ are two ideal solutions to pair together. Not only are they backed and developed by Lenovo, but they are also eligible for a bundle savings discount. Get in touch with the LanSchool or Lenovo NetFilter team for a demo and more information.

You can also download our free, in-depth guide to incorporating SEL: Eight essential questions about social-emotional learning in K-12 schools.

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