Digital environment enhances learning much more than printed textbooks, says CEO of Camino Education

Digital platforms allow expansion of spaces and times when students have access to content, multiple possibilities for interaction and experiences of different multimedia experiences

Even though families' perceptions may change significantly from the Covid-19 pandemic, talking about a teaching methodology that does not use printed textbooks can still scare many fathers and mothers. But Fernando Shayer, one of the founding partners and CEO of Camino Education, has a strong view in the opposite direction: “Currently, investing in printed textbooks is a financial and educational waste for schools and parents. Both printed books and digital platforms are technologies to assist teachers in the task of educating, which goes far beyond this chosen technology. But, in all relevant aspects, digital platforms are already much more effective than printed books, because their different elements enable a higher level of student learning and teacher training ”.

Among these elements, Shayer highlights the possibility of expanding learning space and time. “Regarding space, technology transforms the rigid walls of the classroom into membranes that are more open to the outside world. We are seeing this now in remote education, when we managed to transform the physical classroom into an expanded place, which includes the homes of all students. ”According to him, technology also greatly expands learning time, by allowing access to digital educational content at any time, via smartphone, ipad, Chromebook or computer, which combine numerous other features. “Unlike the printed book, the content is inside the same device that has all the other things that the student is used to doing for fun. The content is always in the student's hands ”.

In addition to space and time, digital platforms also enable an expansion of media and learning modes, by allowing the student to have different experiences, such as reading a text, viewing a photo, watching videos, listening to music and creating learning experiences in these digital media. “Research in Learning Science points to an expansion of the quantity, strength and stability of the connection between neurons when using multiple media. This is learning, ”says the executive director.

Another relevant point related to the use of educational platforms, according to Shayer, is access to data. Each time the student does an activity on the platform, it generates a record, which makes it possible to prepare a student portfolio, with the tests, exercises and creations that he performed. "This material shows the evolution of the student's understanding of a certain topic and provides additional elements for the school and teachers to make more precise and better pedagogical interventions".

Possibility of greater interaction and engagement

For him, engagement is another benefit of these platforms, as it allows interaction and the joint creation of students, a resource that the book does not have. “Students can get together and make a text, a video or share a presentation. The number of projects that can be developed is infinite. And we know that creating together allows for enormous engagement, which is a central factor in learning ”, he highlights.

The executive director considers that, as it is something that students are used to, as they are digital natives, the digital environment also brings engagement for this reason. Similarly for teachers, of all ages, who are usually familiar with social networks, for example. “It is clear in this pandemic that the digital environment is very conducive to training teachers on a large scale. Just look at the number of webinars and lives being made available. It is not a novelty that comes from outside to inside in their lives, on the contrary. So, why isn't this digital environment in the classroom? ”, He asks.

He points out, however, that it is very important that students continue to use physical notebooks, especially in the early years, as they are technologies that facilitate literacy and develop fundamental skills related to writing. But as for printed books, in his opinion, governments and schools should increasingly make a move towards creating the necessary infrastructure for the adoption of digital technology, establishing partnerships to obtain equipment, for example. “Many schools have already realized this. And the number of them will increase a lot, from now on. The excessive money invested in paper, printing, warehouse and logistics for printed books should be invested in items that lead to relevant learning for the future, such as teacher training, educational platforms and Smart devices ”.

Finally, Shayer brings an additional argument against the adoption of printed books: “In addition to educational and financial reasons, it is harmful from an environmental point of view. This is important".