5 benefits of combining digital tools and the Montessori method

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Imagine a classroom where information from teacher to learner focuses on sensory perception. All this is delivered to the student using a tablet. The educator can track work done from another device and tailor the activities to suit each student’s skill set. Better yet, they can share the developments with the parents. That is the future way of intentional skill assessment emphasized by the Montessori teaching method. Now imagine this process totally automated so the teacher can focus on JUST teaching. This is the Power delivered when digital combines with best practices in the classroom.

A brief history of the Montessori method focuses on teaching the whole child covering more than their academics but their emotional, social, and sensory development to match their unique skill set. There is a notable contrast to the conventional teaching method of a standardized focus on a single mass channeling of information to various students. Primarily in how learners assimilate the information.

Mary Montessori created this teaching approach. She was the first female doctor in Italy in 1896 after having built up to this momentous event by taking male-dominated classes earlier. Mary observed that children thrived in an environment where learning incorporated sensory skills. Through vigorous research and study of numerous students, she established a very unorthodox way of teaching, a learner-paced and focused approach, compared to the conventional educator-paced approach. Traditionally Montessori learning is considered a low-technological learning approach though it can adapt to the digital age. Let us explore how that would be beneficial.

1. Technology appeals to the senses.

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A sensory appeal is the foundation of the Montessori method where the senses train to perceive solutions. Digital tools could facilitate various activities that appeal to the different senses, and the educator can assist the individual child according to their specific skill set. For instance, a video would appeal to the hearing and sight but still allow the educator to be present. Structured activities could even target the imagination to engage the sense of touch and emotion in their task. Three studies by Elsen and Lillard (2020) explored the possibility of using digital tools for sensory activities and established that digital tools paired with in-person interactions yielded excellent results.

2. Technology enables the analysis of movements 

Although Montessori learning is generally a free, unconstrained form of learning, there must be constant guidance from the educator on the content covered. The COVID-19 pandemic encouraged various digital tools created to meet remote learning needs. Still, the digital tools lack two simple components essential to every educator: lesson planning and assessment which e-spaces.org will soon be able to provide. The simple planning and real-time assessment tool reduces time spent on paperwork and focuses more on the learner. Out of over 1000 EdTech companies, this is the only app that provides assessment in real-time that helps students be self-sovereign as the teacher is teaching.

3. Greater variety of activities

Technology offers the world at your fingertips, from simple worksheets, and illustrative applications to the design of a virtual world using already existing games such as Sims. It incorporates controlling the learning environment for both learner and teacher, encouraging learner engagement with meaningful activities which mimic various everyday scenarios previously inaccessible. Resources that can highlight appropriate expectations and enable flexible assessment would be ideal. There are digital tools that can provide limitless opportunities to experiment and discover what works with minimum effort from the teacher. Already there are theoretical frameworks for interactive media by Buckleitner (2014) that can be applied practically. Try them and let us know which worked for you.

A modern example

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Guidepost Montessori school is one step ahead of the rest. They have a virtual school that already incorporates digital tools in the Montessori approach. The learning process is learner-centered, with each student setting their own pace and further constant educator involvement. A community appeal is present when the entire class has a virtual meeting to share their thoughts. Simply put, Guidepost Montessori is already experiencing the five benefits of digital tools.

4. Teacher’s role as guides simplified

Individualizing the learning process is easy with a digital tool to simplify assessment and planning. For example, e-spaces.org enables new learning structures implementation in real-time for analysis of effectiveness for each skill set. Therefore immediately adjusting to match the desired result. As a teacher, I appreciate this because it is a constant challenge to attempt to change and modify lesson objectives in class to suit student needs.

5. Improved community interaction

There is finally improved communication between the Montessori community where they can share their challenges and successes of each stage they currently have. For instance, Ross Montessori School in Colorado, USA, had webinars to assist parents and educators during the pandemic. These incorporated group activities such as having lunch, singing, playing games, and even doing morning yoga together.

Conclusion

Learning can be fun, seamless, and connected. The five benefits have highlighted some of the endless possibilities for the Montessori approach if digital tools implementation occurred in line with best practices. Which do you think you can implement currently? It could be the beta version of the e-spaces.org real-time learning assessment tool. Let us know how it goes.

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