Innovative Learning

5 Things We Need to Teach in Our Classrooms

K-12 Teaching

Subjects like English, Science, and Mathematics are commonplace in American classrooms. These traditional subjects are important, but many of them don’t offer any value when it comes to life’s most useful lessons. Many people believe the classroom should incorporate some more practical subjects that can be employed long-term. Here are some topics that many students wish they had learned while in school:

Basic Finance

Most American K-12 schools don’t provide students with training in financial literacy. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t understand the basics about building credit scores, homeownership, investments, savings, insurance, or retirement and how these issues can impact their overall health and well-being. Many schools are advocating for more personal finance coursework and training to help curb some of these issues and ensure Americans are well-equipped to take control of their own financial destiny.

Tax Codes

Taxes are an inevitable part of life, but you’d be surprised to learn that the average American misses out on several thousand dollars of tax credits each year. Many Americans are uneducated when it comes to tax codes, and many can’t do their taxes without the aid of technology. As a result, most Americans won’t claim their full refund unless they enlist the assistance of a tax professional. A little training in this area can save great heartache and distress in the future.

Mental Health

Mental health issues have been a taboo topic for decades, especially in large parts of the black community. Unfortunately, the hush-hush nature of this subject has led to a debilitated society where those in need of help fail to seek it. Schools should invest in training that assists students with healthy coping mechanisms and encourages them to seek help when needed.

Time Management Techniques

Time management is important in both work and play. Many employers are looking for students who can balance the demands of home and work with ease. In today’s structured society, many students enter the real world with no concept of how to manage their own time. Courses in time management can be quite useful in curbing anxiety and propelling students to the next level.

Self-Defense Techniques

Self-defense techniques can be taught in a physical education class or a special elective and can be beneficial in the long-term. Physical safety is a no-brainer when it comes to an educational package, and many schools are opting to include this kind of coursework in their curriculum.

Today’s children have the most benefit in learning these principles early, and yet we are severely hindering them from being prepared for the future. Our education system should reinforce the skills and knowledge pertinent to a successful life, such as mental health awareness, cultural sensitivity, and financial stability. We owe it to our future generations to have all of the tools available to them from the beginning, not until it’s already too late.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Make Homeschooling Easier with Technology

Homeschooling

(Photo Credit: Black Blue Dog)

The best learning experiences are the result of a dedicated educator, a student’s curiosity to learn and a supportive environment that values academics. Using technology as a resource can enhance these learning experiences and academic environments, whether lessons are learned in a school or at home.

You’re not just the parent of a homeschooler; you are also a teacher.  You want to inspire your child to think critically and stay motivated.  Technology can cultivate new ways of thinking and new ideas. Android or Apple tablets can specifically serve as creative tools and interactive textbooks.  Tablet materials and apps can customize the learning experience and tailor materials to suit the learning style(s) and meet the needs of a student.

Online Textbooks & iTunes U in Class

Enrich learning experiences at home with electronic textbooks on a tablet.  Services like iTunes U provide customized, hands-on lessons for homeschooled teens of all levels.  Texts and photos come to life when you use electronic textbooks.  Think back to the days when you turned pages and used a marker or highlighter to note sections in printed textbooks.  The postmodern student can learn by swiping a screen, engaging in interactive animations and even rotating a 3-D object.  Highlight notes with a finger.  Zoom in on a diagram.  Create digital study cards.  The tablet is a space-saving, all-in-one learning device that functions as any type of textbook, a note taker and study partner.  Keeping learning materials on a mobile device can be handy for your student to study anywhere.  Homework can be done on a car trip or at a friend’s house.

As a home educator, you can also use online educational apps to organize lesson plans and learning materials for a course in one central location.  Build courses using the iTunes U Course Manager, and your student can listen to an audio lecture, watch a presentation and organize coursework notes.  Then your student can complete assignments and share what he or she learns using any of the thousands of academic-oriented apps available, tablets and popular smartphones.  Help your teen engender a multimedia presentation using special effects in Keynote or a visual web journal using multi-touch editing.  A tablet-based learning curriculum is a dramatic improvement from the days of overhead projectors and plastic report covers and binders.

Smartphone Social Apps

While tablets enhance learning, reserve the smartphone for socialization and fun.  A blog post by Heather Sanders from The Pioneer Woman writes that as a home educator and mom, she welcomes smartphones as a communication tool that “can help students expand their specific hobbies or areas of interests.”  Her daughter Emelie turns to smartphone app Tumblr as her virtual inspiration board and Feedly as her blog reader.  She uses Instagram and Snapchat to share videos and photos with friends. The Kik instant message app also keeps her in touch with international friends.  Sanders’ other daughter, Meredith, likes Wattpad for writing books and reading stories from other authors.  You can even use the smartphone as a study break or incentive.  For example, if your teen aces an exam let her chat with friends on her phone or stream media from Netflix as a reward for meeting her goal.

With the sophisticated advances in technology, postmodern homeschooling can be a rewarding experience for both the teacher and student.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Multimedia as Part of Your Educational Experience

Multimedia Classroom

(Photo Credit: The Modesto Bee)

Developments in the direction of a more technology-focused and multimedia approach to education demonstrate a correlation between an online learning environment and performance improvement.  How is multimedia as an educational tool trending toward permanence in the academic landscape?

Social Apps

Multimedia devices that have interactive learning and entertainment apps can connect instructors and students outside formal digital academic communities.  Vine, Instagram and other multimedia platforms can give students and teachers the opportunity to interact in fun and interesting ways.  Video platforms provide more dynamic teaching and learning relationships facilitated in ways never before envisioned in the more traditional brick and mortar educational milieu.  The creation of educational apps is a lucrative trend with more mobile choices offered for both students and teachers.  For example, the Oxford Picture Dictionary is a full 4,000-term dictionary you can access anywhere.  School Fuel is another app teachers can use to connect with students remotely to answer student questions and give guidance.

Why Digital Learning?

As online education becomes more prevalent, multimedia and digital concentration will also increase in use in accredited postsecondary programs.  For example, those who pursue an Early Childhood Education degree online at Penn Foster can experience the following advantages:

  1. It’s cheaper—73% less than an average online or traditional institution.
  2. It’s practical.  Knowledge and skills for promoting language and literacy development and activities that are mentally and physically stimulating are applicable for a prosperous educational career.
  3. It’s flexible and convenient.  Learn at your own pace while you fulfill other responsibilities.
  4. It’s a stepping stone. Skills (and credits) are transferrable, which is helpful as you progress.

It’s becoming clearer that your ultimate success is contingent upon your familiarity with the basics of video, multimedia presentation and communication.  With these education programs, you’re just beginning to explore the tip of an ever-expanding monolith in technology, something that you may decide to pursue in more depth in the future.

Joys of Learning

Let’s face it, there’s a significant amount of book learning in any educational program.  It doesn’t have to be dry, boring or fraught with colorless ambiguity.  The multimedia element in education is a way to incorporate your life into your learning process, and then encourage your future students to do the same with their own personal experiences.  It’s a way to put your passion back into education, colorize the frames in all the sessions and engender a more dynamic and diverse atmosphere than you may have ever thought possible.

Teachers who incorporate different platforms in their process will have a better chance of engaging students.  Multimedia classrooms also hold students accountable, keep curriculums organized and offer greater opportunities to learn and apply.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison