Why educators need to change their ed-tech message

'There’s no world without screens in it, anymore'
By: | May 15, 2020
To make the case for screen time and ed-tech use, teachers have to convince parents that students are doing projects on their devices that they couldn’t do in a traditional classroom environment.To make the case for screen time and ed-tech use, teachers have to convince parents that students are doing projects on their devices that they couldn’t do in a traditional classroom environment.

As schools add new technology and turn increasingly to online learning, educators will need to fine-tune messaging to parents about screen time.

That’s because “engagement” no longer serves as the sole reason for ed-tech adoptions, says Julie Evans, the CEO of Project Tomorrow, a nonprofit resource provider and STEM research organization.

“Parents have to see students are doing something on their devices that they couldn’t do in a traditional classroom environment,” says Evans, who has presented on screen time at the Future of Education Technology Conference®.

Educators, for instance, can use tech to show students simulations of molecular activity—something they couldn’t do without a computer.


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In addition, ed tech can be linked to students’ development of college and career skills such as critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

“People often say technology isolates people, but kids say the opposite,” Evans says. “Kids tell us all the time that a primary benefit of using technology is the opportunity to collaborate and to communicate with each other more effectively.”

Ultimately, in an era of widespread distance learning, students need guidance, not restrictions, on the use of screens, says Jordan Shapiro, the author of The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World (Little, Brown Spark, 2018) who also teaches at Temple University in Philadelphia.

On the one hand, LGBTQ students have found a crucial sense of belonging in online communities that they may not experience offline. On the other side of the spectrum, social media can also connect students with hate groups.

“Educators play a huge role here in helping kids interpret these feelings of belonging as the good version or the bad version,” Shapiro says. “Screens are such an integral part of the world we live in—there’s no world without screens in it, anymore.”


Read the other stories in DA’s series on healthy screen-time use:

  1. 4 concepts for balancing screen time in the online learning era.
  2. How educators can encourage digital wellness.
  3. How to create a healthy ed-tech culture in class and at home.
  4. 4 concepts for balancing screen time in the online learning era.

Matt Zalaznick is DA’s senior writer.


Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.