Schools districts and parents around the world are witnessing a paradigm shift in the way this generation of students are taught, including what part digital education should play. While many new companies offer skill and drill digital content, very little attention is being paid to the science of learning that addresses the “whole child.” This type of learning includes cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and reflective/reward aspects.
Cognitive Skills are the techniques that we use to think and learn. They are the skills that help us gain information so that we can be creative and critical thinkers able to make decisions and solve problems. Memory, attention, auditory processing, visual processing, and sensory integration are all strands of cognitive development that must all be taken into account when developing a technology-based curriculum. These programs cannot solely be skill and drill. In order to be effective, learners must be engaged and use critical and creative thinking skills to solve problems.
While all cognitive skills are important to learning, today I will focus on Memory and Attention.
The “Attention Strand” emphasizes the importance of engagement to develop and maintain a student’s attention so that real learning and thinking can take place. This strand includes Auditory Selective Attention, Auditory Sustained Attention, Divided Attention, Flexible Attention, Visual Selective Attention and Visual Attention Sustained. These different types of attention can be achieved through a strong personalized learning program, delivered both online and offline. Teachers must have effective digital tools that engage the learner, a means of tracking progress in real time, the resources to differentiate learning, and the time to reflect with each student on their progress and understanding. Programs that keep students’ attention allow them to build their memory, which is crucial to learning.
Digital programs must also pay close attention to the “Memory Strand.” Memory is one of our most important cognitive skills. Everything we do in life requires some type of memory (eating, walking, talking, etc). Our long-term memory is where we store facts, information, experiences, and ideas. As soon as we are born, we start accumulating knowledge that we store in our own individual “database.” The knowledge that we gain over time allows us to solve problems and make decisions. Knowledge is accumulative and long-term memory helps us understand more difficult content as we grow and learn. It allows us to become creative and critical thinkers. Programs need to present content in multiple ways so that learners are able to gain and build on the knowledge that is stored in their long-term memory. Students must see a need for the content and be engaged in learning. They must be able to answer the question: Why do I need to learn this?
The Science of Learning only works if you intrigue the learner. Wowzers takes into account the “whole child,” provides both online and offline activities, engages students in adaptive, story-driven and game-based learning, includes a Learning Management System that tracks student learning in real time and allows teachers and students to personalize learning.