Post COVID, education is at a cross-roads. The effects of technology on wellbeing remain a concern as education becomes more technology focused, more remote and less personal.
Is it worth focusing on how it could support better wellbeing?
Technology enables us to gather more and more student data. This information can be used to identify and address stress points in curriculum and course design. We can see where and when students struggle to meet deadlines. We can workout ways to alleviate pressure for those juggling additional responsibilities.
Technology can help us maximise flexibility and responsiveness in the way we teach. Digital options allow students to customise their learning to suit their preferences and strengths. Reliable online contact can make all the difference at times when they need extra support and motivation.
Build in online engagement
The symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress can impact greatly on a student’s ability to engage with learning and with other people. Online collaboration allows a student to contribute remotely and informally rather than in person. Asynchronous activities allow them to work at the times when they feel most able to participate. Just maintaining the contact could be enough to avoid a deterioration in their situation.
Productivity tools, apps and browser plugins can lessen the pressure of study by helping students to manage and prioritise their time and work. They can make reading and writing less challenging, with text to speech, voice recognition or by providing referencing and grammar support. Screen capture and recording apps make it possible to capture learning activities and review the learning ‘takeaways’ after a teaching session.
Make access easier
Digital induction has never been more important. Any new student could struggle with unfamiliar platforms and systems. Consistent, structured course pages on the VLE make information easier to find and follow. Bite-sized assignments reduce cognitive overload and provide continuous feedback. Collaborative online activities build confidence and combat isolation.
Many digital solutions that are recommended to overcome specific disabilities can make life easier for others facing challenging situations. For example, captioned videos and podcast alternatives are essential for sensory impaired learners but they also make a huge difference to anyone forced to study in noisy environments or with limited connectivity.
Develop Digital skills
Building staff and student digital capability is central to supporting the best use of digital and maintaining digital wellbeing. Providing a variety of activities, flexible assessment options and timely online feedback are now core digital skills for teaching online.
To have control over our digital lives we must be able to manage our digital practices with confidence. We want to encourage engagement and support inclusion because they make things easier and more interesting and that supports better wellbeing for everyone.