STEM and technology are so interlinked that they play an equally important role in the STEM learning process. Incorporating technology into STEM learning spaces is important, benefitting both learners and teachers.
What is Stem?
STEM education includes science, technology, engineering, and math subjects, but also extends way beyond this. These subjects allow students to explore and experience concepts and make links to the real world.
Alongside providing the theoretical basis, STEM provides interdisciplinarity experiences. These experiences help students engage in deeper and richer learning to grow their understanding beyond just theory.
These subjects are often grouped into STEM as they complement each other. Without maths, you couldn’t have science. Without science, you couldn’t have engineering. STEM subjects also help students learn skills ready for the demands of the future workforce.
Technology and STEM
STEM technology can range far and wide. Maths subjects can implement interactive whiteboards. Technology and engineering incorporate the use of machines and other DT equipment. Science utilises scientific equipment necessary for experiments.
Not only do students use technology to support and develop their learning, but they also develop a deep knowledge and understanding of complex concepts. STEM subjects give the opportunity to learn how technology works as opposed to just using and interacting with it.
As technology continues to evolve, students need to be provided with as many opportunities to support their learning. Research has found that earlier access to technology in STEM helps to:
- Enhance opportunities for developing science practices and skills
- Give tailored learning opportunities suited to the learner’s knowledge and experience
- Encourage sharing, collaboration, and discussions with peers
- Expands the visual and auditory information students witness beyond what is otherwise unavailable
- Easy and ready access to learning resources
- Helps educators to better connect and build a sense of community with learners
- Helps develop learner-centred environments
While integrating technology into STEM learning spaces is effective, a 1 to 1 approach between technology and students is not the best way to support learning. Research indicates that to better support learning, technology should be incorporated into pairs or small groups.
The importance of technology in STEM
With the increase in opportunities available for both students and teachers, there is great importance in integrating technology into STEM learning spaces. There are many ways that technology can enrich teaching and learning.
One thing that sets STEM subjects apart from others is that students can learn and experience through project-based learning. However, without technology, that can become very difficult.
With technology properly implemented into a STEM learning space, learners are provided with a risk-free learning environment. In such situations, students can seek solutions to problems by developing a special mindset.
Technology encourages flexibility and curiosity in learning, which helps develop a mindset equipped for challenges faced beyond education. The technology available helps support and aid in students’ learning through doing project-based learning.
Develop problem-solving and analytical skills
STEM subjects are ideal for allowing students to develop their problem-solving and analytical skills. Often presenting many unique challenges, students can use integrated technology to overcome these challenges through hands-on problem-solving.
Often, students will be expected to apply their previous knowledge and skills from a broad spectrum of subject disciplines to overcome a problem, particularly in STEM subjects. The same with analytical skills when researching or reflecting on results.
Integrating technology into STEM learning spaces opens up a whole new avenue for students to use when overcoming a problem. Technology can help improve learning by providing a better understanding of a subject or through interactive and immersive exercises.
Feedback is a vital part of improving and extending students learning. Providing praise and feedback is one way to create a highly effective learning space. However, it can be difficult for educators to provide students with extensive and individualised feedback.
Incorporating technology into STEM spaces can reduce such problems. Digital tools and learning resources can provide students with automatic, immediate, and individualised feedback all based on the activities carried out.
The feedback provided can extend beyond a simple right or wrong, instead providing helpful and constructive feedback that learners can use to improve their learning. The right feedback also helps boost motivation and a learner’s interest to explore further.
Encourages teamwork and collaboration
Teamwork makes the dream work, right? STEM subjects are one of the most collaborative subject areas around. But it can be difficult trying to encourage a collaborative and teamworking environment without the right resources.
As teamworking and collaboration are essential skills for the STEM workforce, it’s important to build such skills in learners as early as possible to equip them for the future. Implementing technology into STEM spaces removes barriers to communication and opens up new possibilities.
Technology can help facilitate active learning, providing a platform for various group activities. Technology also helps improve students’ collaborative reasoning around subject concepts. An improvement that builds and encourages ideas.
Increase STEM awareness
Despite a growing shortage of professionals and skills in the STEM sector, STEM skills are highly demanded in society. Whether it’s writing reports or architectural planning and construction, STEM skills are used in almost all jobs.
Without properly developing relevant and suitable skills linked to STEM subjects, learners may not be well-equipped for making informed decisions within such associated subject areas. Implementing technology into STEM spaces helps develop the necessary skills and experience for such situations.
Through developing appropriate experiences and skill sets, learners can better prepare themselves for active participation and engagement in future. An increased awareness of STEM also opens up a much wider interest in a range of future careers.
Builds learning beyond instructors’ knowledge
Another significant reason for integrating technology into STEM spaces is it allows learning beyond the instructor’s knowledge. Lessons can be limited to the confines of teaching plans or a teacher’s knowledge. With technology, students can overcome this problem.
Integrated technology in STEM learning spaces ensures students gain certain knowledge about concepts or formulas required. It also allows them to apply knowledge to solve and overcome problems.
Technology is an important element of STEM learning spaces. Beyond the physical learning space, the correct technology helps build and equip learners with the resources, experiences, and skills necessary for both current learning and the future. Without technology, STEM learning spaces struggle to provide the opportunities necessary for learning success.