Your Kids Education Just Got Cooler With Tech: Part 2

The shift in K12 education towards the 4C’s began with creativity, because it is really at the heart of all the skills. Creativity is needed across the board as kids are increasingly challenged to be creative in their schoolwork and beyond in the working world as they are literally creating the future with new tech every day.

The three other C’s are collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. Teachers and kids are finding creative new ways to build 4C skills in schools across the US and around the globe. Just as technology can support creativity, it can truly support collaboration in the classroom and at home.

Collaboration between students generates ideas and discussions they might not otherwise have; stimulating their creativity and outside-the-box thinking. More and more, employers are expecting this kind of ability from their workers, especially within the IT sector, and in industries dependent on developing technologies. Very few sectors are untouched by technology, so kids need to learn fluency (just like they do with the 3Rs), and to use it wisely with the 4C skills in order to shape the future.

Workspaces are no longer confined to brick and mortar offices in mappable locations. Companies work together across the digital space with team members on different continents. Learning to collaborate well is no longer a luxury. In fact, a recent study by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) put collaboration at the top of their list of the most desired qualities in new hires.

These skills are so important, there is a movement within the architecture world to design classrooms so kids can more freely and creatively collaborate, communicate, and think critically together. Since implementing flexible classrooms, Albemarle County Public Schools have not only noticed that students seem happier and more engaged, but they’re having more invigorating conversations and their grades have improved.

Schools embodying the 4C’s in their curriculums have all sorts of collaborative projects going on, and not just within the four walls of the classroom. Projects are fostering the kind of creative, collaborative thinking required for thriving in today’s the changing world.

In Spirit Lake, Iowa first graders are using technology to collaborate with students all over North America. They are using Twitter and Google Hangouts to chat about reading, and math, play Book Bingo, do choral readings, and other collaborative activities like writing books together with partner classes. These same kids are using Kahoot, the creatable game-based learning app, for fun, friendly subject-specific competitions with other first grade classrooms. These technology-supported collaborations are providing Spirit Lake students with multiple opportunities for meeting Common Core Technology Literacy Standards that are innovative and visually assessable for teachers.

Social media and web-based apps are not the only way collaboration is supported by technology in classrooms. Public schools in Portland, OR gives students Google accounts once they hit middle school. After delving into their web research, eighth grade social studies students at Mt.Tabor Middle School recently used Google Drawings, Slides, Forms, and Docs to collaborate on presentations about the different presidential candidates.

With so many examples of technology being used in the classroom, how do parents encourage creative use of technology to support collaboration outside the classroom? Play is the most organic form of learning during childhood. Help them learn to collaborate as they do it. Chances are your kids already love to use technology during their off-school hours.

They may already be collaborating with friends in the creation of worlds through games like Starbound or Spelunky. For kids not so into worlds, there are many other co-op choices, like Don’t Starve Together (survival), Overcooked (fun cooking competition), and all that Lego has to offer from Harry Potter to Marvel. Whether it’s games, creating blogs, or mixing their latest Garageband song, encourage kids by offering them opportunities to be creative with their friends over technology.

Kids can collaborate in all kinds of endeavors from marketing their lemonade stands over social media to app development using the vast tech resources available to them. Families are working together on goals using tech to support them in ways that were not imaginable a decade ago. If you can dream it, you can make it. The trick is following your kids’ passion. What gets them excited? Encourage them to go deeper into whatever their current obsession is. Better yet, go deep with them!


Jenny Kepler, MA, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and writer who has been helping families navigate parenthood for over 10 years. Her office is in downtown Portland, OR where she does in person therapy with adults, couples and families. She also offers parent coaching over the phone for people who can’t see her in Portland.

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