If They Build It, They Will Come (to School)
It’s no secret that technology fascinates many students.
Technology allows students to act independently and control the learning process. Edtech puts active learning in the hands of students, engaging them through multiple modalities: visual, auditory, and tactile.
The benefits of including technology in lessons are many. Instruction is customized to the unique needs of every learner, and students get immediate feedback on their progress. Edtech saves both students and their teacher’s time.
If you’re serious about involving students in technology, ask them to build their own computers. Doing so will teach them computational thinking, develop collaboration and communication skills, and help them understand digital citizenship.
Computational and critical thinking
One of the requirements for building today’s computers is learning how to code.
Our teaching machines have come a long way from the days of basic programming, but the process is still the same. Students have to think sequentially, plan for cause and effect relationships, and develop and respond to what-if scenarios. Coding teaches these skills. The computational and critical thinking that goes into coding teaches learners how to process vast quantities of information.
Collaboration and communication
Building a computer with a team of peers can be the ultimate challenge. Working with others requires exceptional listening skills, a willingness to accept diverse ideas, and infinite patience.
Teachers can use Google Classroom as a resource to further facilitate classroom collaboration. Team members can chat with each other, groups can share work files, and studentpreneurs can visualize their projects with Google Slides.
Fostering digital citizenship in your classroom begins with computer building. As students are building their computers, they can discuss the implications of building a machine that could be used for nefarious purposes. For example, should the program design limit volition and free speech or encourage it? Who is accountable for poor digital citizenship: the builder or the user?
Our students will grapple with cyberbullying, online safety, and responsible technology use. Thinking through these issues before they happen will prepare them for when they do happen.
As students come to conclusions within their teams, they develop a foundation for their worldview as it relates to technology. This basis is their guide for further technology interaction.
Finally, teachers may discover that getting to build a computer encourages students to come to school. They want to be present for each new step in the process because they own it, not the teacher. This is your student’s turn to shine and show what they are capable of.
You’ll be amazed to see just how great that is for your students.
Learning how to build a computer demystifies technology. It also builds confidence. That can be a good thing because technology is so integrated into learning and living today that it’s not going away in our students’ lifetimes.
The children we encourage to work on their own will be able to embrace and understand technology’s potential and its limitations, just by having built their own computational devices.
After all, it’s the process, not the product that matters most.