Monday 7 June 2021

Lessons COVID taught us about technology for wellbeing

 Pros and Cons of Digital Learning during lockdown

Today tech lovers snapped the latest MacBook up for those able to purchase it and add it with their other Apple products. Reflecting on the increase of internet use over the last year I thought about the national digital divide, the have's and have nots. We assume every Western household has a PC or laptop of some sort, and some are more fortunate to have this for their personal use. Unfortunately, many children and students who schooled at home during lockdown could not access their school online lessons for either not having access to their own laptop amongst their siblings in different age/class groups and or no technology at home at all. Some of my creative writing students could not continue their sessions because of this issue. With public libraries also closed there weren't any problem-solving suggestions for young people to continue their creative writing projects.

The cohort of young people I work with fit under the psychographic of introverts, autistic and special needs, and some demographics show they are from economically disadvantaged communities. The benefits of working in small groups with my target audience have been to tackle social isolation and encourage community integration and build confidence with one-to-one creative writing sessions, therefore the lack of physical community workshops has been taxing on their well-being for those with no laptop at home. 

There were advantages of online lessons for those who had access to a laptop and internet service. Workshops and individual sessions were essential to increase participants' self-confidence and boost their creative writing and speaking skills, having not interacted for almost one year. Human contact and community is a fundamental psychological need according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory. With the diverse learning styles of individuals, it will become normal for options to either use digital learning spaces or physical community spaces for learning.

Prior to lockdown, I have mentored young people in creative writing who are homeschooling or required additional-curricular activities. As we continue to watch the unsettling work from home and homeschool situation, the online learning uptake increases for those who want to advance themselves or belong to a digital community to improve their wellbeing through communication and self-expression. 

There are abundant lessons taken from the pandemic, and the stories shared are ongoing. Creativity has peaked, people have found more time to write creatively and make time to journal. It has been a lesson for me to adapt to working online as a creative writing teacher and upskill with online teaching training. I look forward to furthering partnerships as a mentor with inspiring future creative writers.

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