How has edtech supported social-emotional learning this year?

Social Emotional Learning

Published: May 17th, 2023

Trust in tech: The truth about social-emotional learning

Is your school district struggling to find time to implement social-emotional learning (SEL)? If yes, you’re not alone. A study conducted in 2020 shows 59% of teachers don’t feel like they have enough time to fully integrate social-emotional learning into their everyday routine, and 55% don’t think there are enough tools available to make an impact. In addition, not all educators have the resources or emotional energy to make themselves available outside of class to focus on issues beyond standard curriculum.  

What exactly is social-emotional learning?

Rated as one of the most important teaching tools, SEL helps students develop a strong foundation to cope in and out of the classroom by highlighting the importance of self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. By incorporating SEL, the education community has a higher chance of forming well-rounded individuals who can better handle taking on tasks and jobs in current and future situations. 

Research shows teaching social-emotional skills like empathy and gratitude positively impacts a variety of student outcomes, including greater academic achievement and improved mental health. School districts around the country are investing heavily in SEL programs to support students in becoming more self-aware and engaged. But how does technology fit into this digital picture? 

Technology builds connections

The 2023 State of Technology in Education report takes a deep dive into social-emotional learning this year, aiming to find out just how important it is to educators, administrators, and IT professionals around our communities. It’s no surprise it’s the number one concern across the board.  

Most educators believe education technology supports SEL, especially when it comes to strengthening connections with each other and the world around them. As shown in the report, 92% of students agree, noting tech helps them connect with their peers and form better relationships. But it’s not just student relationships technology improves—teachers and administrators are staying updated on technology trends and making it a higher priority, forming a better bond with their students—especially after the impact COVID-19 and remote learning had on students across the globe.  

Technology builds emotional-awareness and equity 

While every school has different strategies to give social-emotional learning the attention it deserves, the report indicates there is an increased effort to focus more on daily emotions. In some districts, SEL is tracked on spreadsheets similar to a daily weather report. After a counselor and teacher reviews the report, students who are having a hard day get specialized attention and the opportunity to talk through their problems.  

Teachers also see the difference technology makes firsthand for students with disabilities. Not only can it provide a better opportunity to participate during lessons, but edtech empowers them with access to certain activities they may not have had before. 

The work is being done, but it doesn’t end here. Although the emphasis on SEL has increased in the last few years, schools are not currently taking advantage of simple methods that can make a big difference in a small way. 

Best ways to use edtech to support social-emotional learning 

It’s no secret today’s generation of students is more connected than ever before. In fact, recent research shows that the percentage of adults with students under 18 who reported the internet was always or usually available for educational purposes rose from 91% in April 2020 to 94% by March 2021. Technology is a way of life for most, and it’s important to make that familiar connection to feel and stay engaged. 

How can you ensure your peers get maximum use out of their education technology? Helping educators in your schools think outside the box about the time-saving technology solutions available to them is key. For example, training or educating your district on how to implement the best apps to increase social-emotional satisfaction in students is one way to make it more of a daily priority. 

Teachers can use class polling on their interactive panels during lesson plans to encourage conversation and collaboration among students, which helps build community and teach social-awareness and relationship skills. Using embedded panel apps like the spinner to randomly pair up students on projects also encourages team building and social- and self-awareness. Integrating apps for social-emotional learning helps students practice mindfulness, healthy self-expression, and positive attitudes. All these practices help keep the energy in the classroom high and classroom management low—saving time to focus on the most important things. 

What does the future of edtech and social-emotional learning look like? 

Things are improving, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Social-emotional learning might be the number one priority in a lot of areas, but the environment around it looks different for every classroom. With almost half of schools offering counseling services, it’s clear that schools play an important role in students’ mental health.  

Help increase the use of edtech for SEL by working with your teachers to integrate a plan that makes the most of your tech setup and download the 2023 State of Technology in Education report to learn what matters most in education right now, including SEL, staffing shortages, and the future of edtech.