The pandemic has affected all aspects of life, and the disruption felt by students is no exception. A phrase that has been top of mind lately is learning loss. An analysis by McKinsey puts the issue into measurable terms:
“Students in [the] sample learned only 67 percent of the math and 87 percent of the reading that grade-level peers would typically have learned by the fall. On average, that means students lost the equivalent of three months of learning in mathematics and one-and-a-half months of learning in reading.”
The American Rescue Plan earmarks 20% of a district’s new funds for learning loss recovery to address the issue. So while educators debate learning lost vs. students learning differently, many schools are looking at ways to make up for time lost.
How do Digital Skills Become Part of the Solution?
Digital skills are well suited to be part of the solution. Digital skills like web, game, and app development are fun and engaging ways to reinforce math, English, science, and social concepts through real-world application. Another benefit of digital skills education is that it enhances cognitive skills such as computational and critical thinking, which can lift students’ abilities across subject matter — a vital benefit after an unconventional school year. (Further reading on the link between computational thinking and core subjects.)
As a digital skill teaching and learning solution, complete with projects designed for core subject integration, BSD Education can help reinforce core subject learning and develop transferable skills, assisting in learning loss recovery.
Digital Skills Reinforce Core Subjects
Mathematics and language arts have been pointed to as core subjects hit hardest this past school year. Yet, in many ways, digital skills empower someone to process information and communicate in our era. Said differently, digital skills are the intersection of math and language arts, where reasoning and problem-solving happen.
From science to social studies, there are many cross-curricular learning objectives digital skills can support. I even have a teacher who modified our “Trivia Game Maker” to be a Spanish Quiz.
Creating Digital Products Captures Attention & Imagination
Classes always aim to be engaging, but this becomes even more important for learning loss recovery plans. That includes utilizing out-of-school time (afterschool, summer enrichment, extended school year), as the American Rescue Plan suggests. Learning digital skills is fun, and that makes them perfect for the task at hand. Allowing students to create is inherently engaging. Whether students are developing an AI chatbot, website, or platformer game, digital skills projects capture attention, spark imagination, and harness passion.
Agency is a core value of BSD’s evidence-based pedagogy. That means that each student finishes with a unique piece of work, not a cookie-cutter experience. Projects are designed with extension activities in mind and allow students to customize further or reenvision their work. Students stay engaged as they decide the direction to take their project and what to incorporate. My most successful lessons come from students’ refreshing ideas, going back to their work, and implementing something new. Through creating, students will entrench themselves in their learning loss and assist in their recovery.
Learning Digital Skills Develops Broad Cognitive Abilities
Teaching 21st-century skills means honing in on strategies that will have lasting impacts. These strategies include identifying computational thinking, design thinking, coding/programming, and digital citizenship as future-proof and fundamental. Computational thinking is the process of breaking down a problem to solve it. It includes decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. Steps for design thinking include empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing to create based on the needs and experience. In short, developing these abilities enhances someone’s ability to think and can help accelerate learning in the future. With the right approach, these skills are present in a digital skills education program.
Website, app, and product development and design projects that utilize coding are ideal exercises for building future-proof skills. Our pedagogy accentuates these abilities and the transferable aspects of digital skills learning. It also includes the space to reflect on digital citizenship. Our curriculum is designed for all students, not just those who will become computer programmers. These disciplines have broad applicability across subject matter and are essential to many job functions in the working world. Meaning, these skills follow students throughout their education and careers.
Implementing a Digital Skills Program
Incorporating digital skills in your recovery plan enriches and reinforces core subject learning. It focuses students in engaging and imaginative ways and develops and enhances cognitive skills like computational thinking. However, although learning loss is a top issue as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, other trends make digital skills highly relevant. Most notable is the shifting future of work. As another article from McKinsey suggests:
“In the digital era, educators need to expand their understanding of what it means to be literate in the 21st century: not replacing traditional learning but complementing it. As a result, computer programming and digital literacy are becoming core skills.”
Of course, implementing a digital skills program can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be. BSD Education partners with educators to make implementing a digital skills program easy. We make it turnkey by providing all the necessary pieces: platform, curriculum, professional development, and highly responsive support. With the correct methods in place, educators can hasten learning loss recovery. Using digital skills, they can also encourage students to develop future-proof skills with a curious, adaptable, resilient, and empathetic mindset.