“Summer has come around but the Pandemic is not over yet. What can my kids do?” This was a question many parents were asking earlier this year. Despite things changing quickly with vaccination rates increasing, many governing bodies had not made a call on whether in-person summer camps would be allowed or not.
In Winter 2020, Digital Media Academy launched its first Virtual Tech Camps to allow for Applied Technology Education to continue during the Pandemic. A significantly high interest and participation rate in Virtual Tech Camps was the greatest evidence that Post-pandemic learning will definitely look different. According to an article by the World Economic Forum written in April 2020: “education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. Research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase retention of information, and take less time, meaning the changes coronavirus have caused might be here to stay.”
Today, I explore why Virtual Tech Camps are here to stay:
1. Highly Developed Digital Literacy in Students = Desire to Learn Online
It was incredible to see how digitally literate our students already were. Since the start of the Pandemic, students were forced into participating in virtual learning. Students did not have a choice in this matter. However, unlike us adults, students are very used to communicating and interacting with people virtually on social media, online games, etc. Using their already developed online-social-skills, students quickly made friends during Virtual Tech Camps. It was such a beautiful thing to see friendships blossom despite the physical limitations.
2. International Barriers Broken Down
Thanks to the virtual class setting, students were able to connect with peers from all over the world. We had students join us from Canada, USA, India, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Turkey, Netherlands, Bahamas, Bermuda, Switzerland, South Korea, Singapore, UAE, Brazil, Estonia, Italy, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Spain and Germany. What a list! This to me is an example of a path towards achieving more equity in education: the barriers broken down so that students from all over the world can access the same quality of education. It is also a privilege to be working for a company which promotes equity in learning by providing scholarships to students. For example, DMA handed out around 1,000 scholarships last Summer.
3. Increased Access to industry experts and authentic learning for students
According to The Economist , the virtual setting has “opened doors to economic opportunity, social mobility, and personal and professional development.” The fact that your physical location does not limit the opportunities you’re provided with is an incredible thing. The possibilities are limitless, whether it be inviting a local artist or an internationally renowned Director, both can be done over remote conferencing tools, thanks to the technological advancements which allow for these events to take place. An example of this during Virtual Tech Camps was a Masterclass with Roy H. Wagner ASC . Students were able to meet with the multiple Emmy Award winning Cinematographer from the comfort of their homes.
4. Face-to-face Instruction Provided
There are so many self-paced courses out there, but why is there still a preference for face-to-face group classes? Humans are social creatures. We need human interaction and feedback for effective learning. Even as adults, we struggle to continue a self-paced course when it’s purely up to us. There is great value in knowing that another human is on the other side, ready to answer questions and to give feedback. The value is increased even more by the fact that the person on the other side of the screen is an industry professional.
5. Applied Technology related skills = Future!
If you have not read the statistics that almost half of the jobs that exist now will be bound for automation, now you have! This means that we need to change the way we educate the next generation of workforce and decision makers. We need to empower students to deeply understand how machines work. Michael MacDowell highlights the importance of teaching learners the ability to rigorously transfer their learned skills and knowledge to solve real-world problems. For example, in the case of automation and using machines, educators should emphasize teaching students how to use their gained tech skills to innovate and come up with solutions in their field of interest.
At DMA, we strive to support our students to be able to rigorously transfer the knowledge and skills they gain through our programs. And what are these skills, you may ask? Look out for our future Blog Posts on 21st Century Skills to come!
Okay, so you may be wondering how the above topics may be relevant to you as a reader. If you are an Educator reading this, you can advocate for more Applied Technology related courses/clubs in your schools. Check out our website which can serve as a great starting point for you to begin teaching Applied Technology courses. Additionally, check out our last blog post which has many great tips on how to go about teaching these courses!
If you are a Partner School with DMA and would like more guidance around how to successfully deliver our courses in person or virtually, please send us an email at [email protected]
If the mentioned categories do not fit you but you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you care about our next generation and what they are being taught. You can advocate for them by using your voice, whether that be talking to the leadership team at the school your kids/nephews/nieces go to or voting for someone who really cares about empowering students to be prepared for the changes and challenges of the future.
Education Lead – Digital Media Academy
Juhee is the Education Lead and drives student programming at Digital Media Academy, which includes running our renowned Tech Camps. She is also a certified educator in British Columbia, Canada. Juhee has been teaching in the classroom for the past 5 years at various capacities. She has called at least 3 different countries her home so far and is passionate about diversity and equity in the classroom.
“ The transformation imperative: Education New ways of learning .” The Economist.