Technology is the answer
As the world continues to endure this global pandemic – for the first time in living memory we are seeing the mobilisation of a global remote workforce. But with schools shut, balancing working from home, while entertaining and educating children, has landed parents in a challenging reality. Barbara McCarthy, Ding CTO discusses why now – during this Work from Home revolution – is the perfect time for Technology to come to the rescue in our homes, and she doesn’t mean a Nintendo Switch!
We are in unprecedented times – as Covid-19 tracks across Europe and governments work to tackle the spread of the virus – businesses are mobilising a global work from home workforce. This move will undoubtedly help to soften the blow to our economies, – allowing many businesses to continue to serve their customers in spite of the challenges being faced.
Studies consistently show that, with the right technological infrastructure, working from home can be more productive – with less time commuting, more time with family and enhanced mental health. But does this research hold in the current circumstances without the support of a school system, and childcare facilities?
Technology is undoubtedly coming to the fore during this pandemic – helping to keep families connected when they can no longer be in the same space, while video conferencing apps for businesses have seen demand soar. But it’s not just business that can benefit from technology at this time – I believe this is also an opportune time to bring Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) into the home to keep children occupied.
“Technology gets a bad rap……like everything – it comes down to how we use it and for what purpose.”
Technology gets a bad rap – with our fixation being largely on the damage social media and gaming can have on children’s minds – but there is a lot of good in technology. Like everything – it comes down to how we use it and for what purpose.
Advocates of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities among children would say it promotes among other things innovative and diverse thinking, which are key to solving everyday problems. Diversity of thought encourages kids to embrace their differences – so there’s less pressure around ‘fitting in’ either in situations or thought processes.
The coming weeks might offer us an opportunity to empower our young people with opportunities to be creative, a little self-sufficient and think outside the box, cheering them on as ‘inventors and creators’ – because that is what they are, and certainly will help pass the time!
Occupying little girls, and boys, with science experiments, Lego, robotics, counting games, coding and so on will help to spur on their interests in STEM and might engage them a little more than a day of straight worksheets, allowing us to create positive memories with them and hopefully freeing up intervals of time for parents to focus on other tasks!
Why not utilise some of the free space projects and lesson plans for kids available from NASA. Or teach your child the fundamentals of coding with Hour of Code, Raspberry pi, or Code Avengers which provide fun and interactive programming lessons for kids 5 to 14 or using lego to build a coded maze?
Let them use Google to create an animal fact sheet/posterboard; let them use cardboard and basic craft supplies to try to construct model cars, houses or boats; maybe they could listening to a Wow in the World, Brains On or the ‘Stuff You Should Know’ educational podcast;
Take a Museum tour online with them – through the British Museum, the Louvre and many more. Check out wildlife and aquarium live-streams or take a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China or another global monument using Google Streetview. Download a spider solitaire app or an interactive math game and watch your children improve their numeracy. The website Amazing Educational Resources also is tracking free tools available during the pandemic.
The free resources from the Smithsonian Science Education Center, National Geographic kids, the Khan Academy kids or Beast Academy (for Maths) are also brilliant (and will hopefully give you an hour of uninterrupted work!). You could also stream dedicated youtube tutorials on the Science Channel, Geography Focus or Crash Course Kids. You could even set them up with a video-call for a virtual lunch, or playdate or even a colouring date with grandparents and friends.
While we attempt to keep our children and the older generation safe during this time by self-isolating at home, we can strive to use the time in some way productively. Could this dreadful situation in some way allow us to experience a family unit where parents are present more often and can enjoy the rare gift of parenting together whilst working from home? Could this represent a societal shift towards more remote working? This remains to be seen.