EdTech and emotional learning: how technology can foster students’ social skills

Young student working on a project using educational technology

Social relationships and the ability to collaborate positively with one’s peers are the building blocks of school life. The massive shift towards using educational technology does not imply a decrease in the importance of social aspects and relationships in students’ lives. On the contrary, it is necessary to develop a new educational approach to help students develop self-awareness and empathy even in a digital learning environment. This blog post explores how Educational Technology can help students strengthen their social and emotional skills?


Emotional learning and educational technology

A truly effective educational system does not simply deliver knowledge and information to students. In fact, helping students to develop skills such as empathy, active listening, and self-awareness is one of the primary educational goals that modern schools should pursue. This set of skills can be encapsulated within the concept of emotional intelligence.

Since the 1990s, pedagogical research has paid increasing attention to the ways in which to promote educational experiences based on communication, collaboration, and trust. From a theoretical point of view, therefore, teachers and education professionals have long been familiar with the concept of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). 


What is social and emotional learning?

If we want to grasp the central point of the SEL approach, it is safe to say that the theoretical foundation of Social and Emotional learning is to give the same importance to the emotional aspect as to the cognitive elements. According to the SEL approach, through daily and direct contact between students and peers, as well as between students and teachers, it becomes possible to work on the comprehensive development of emotional skills such as emotional awareness (knowing how to recognize emotions), emotional self-regulation (knowing how to control their own emotions), the ability to make informed decisions, and social awareness (the ability to interact with others, recognize their emotions and value their diversity). 

During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the forced closure of schools deprived students of a physical environment through which to mature social and emotional skills. At the same time, the shift of educational activities within digital environments has helped bring the issue of emotional learning to the forefront of educators’ attention.

According to data collected by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt‘s 2020 Educator Confidence Report

Just 7 percent of educators were prepared to address the social-emotional (SEL) needs of students during the COVID-19 disruption and only 10 percent reported SEL was incorporated to a very significant or significant degree into distance learning programs. With 77 percent of educators concerned about student social emotional wellbeing, it is no surprise that the vast majority (94 percent) continue to agree that students increasingly need more social and emotional support.

An article published in August 2020 by EdTech Magazine reported on the difficulties faced by teachers in American institutions in helping students reclaim the human dimension of school life. At the same time, the article pointed out how the lack of social interactions had contributed to increasing students’ anxiety. 

The outbreak of the pandemic forced educators to rethink the relationship between education, pedagogy, and technology in a whole new way. The need to use distance learning has provided an opportunity for many teachers to increase their digital skills, acquiring fundamental competencies not only for their own professional development but also to guide their students to use educational technology.

For educators, however, one major challenge remains, that is figuring out how to use technology to support students in maturing a well-developed social and emotional awareness.


Educational Technology: is there a room for emotional learning? 

In the EdTech industry there is a growing focus on the social and emotional dimensions of the learning process. This attention is reflected in the attempt to develop digital learning tools that have human interactions at their core.

As noted in an EdSurge’s article:

“People and organizations in the EdTech space are focusing on student voice and expression, visible learning, storytelling and social and emotional learning – a critical part of education’s sea change.

Educational technology tools can be used to multiply the opportunities for interaction between teachers and pupils, as well as to provide pupils with additional support in training social and emotional qualities such as motivation, listening skills and the ability to work in groups.


How to train social and emotional skills through EdTech solutions

In the field of language learning, the most recent and advanced language software tools prefer the development of communication and project-based activities between the various members of a language classroom. Several language software programs, including Sanako Connect, have features that make the exchange of information between students and teachers easier and more thorough – a characteristic that can be extremely useful, especially in large classes.

Through a feedback system such as the one provided by Sanako Connect, the teacher is facilitated in providing the student with an articulate analysis of their own progress and shortcomings.

Being able to receive personalized feedback can help students not only from an instructional point of view, but also from an emotional standpoint. Just think about how much psychological factors such as anxiety or shyness can affect students’ language performance. In other words, the opportunity to rely on an in-depth analysis of one’s strengths and weaknesses can certainly be a factor in increasing students’ level of self-awareness.

As highlighted in a recent report by Education Alliance Finland, EdTech solutions can play an important role in training students in team working and relational skills. Many of the activities offered by Sanako Connect, for instance, are designed to allow for the highest level of interaction and communication between pupils. 

Through Sanako Connect the language teacher can customise the type of teaching activities and develop language learning paths based on the most advanced teaching methodologies and most appropriate to stimulate students’ relational skills, such as Project-Based learning.


Are you curious about the ways in which Sanako Connect can help you foster the social and emotional dimension of language learning? Contact us now to book your FREE demo!

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