​How Can Edtech Boost Social Emotional Learning?

SOCIAL SKILLS AND EDTECH: Some consultants are great at bucketing abstract ideas, like education, into boxes and flowcharts. A new report (PDF) by the World Economic Forum and The Boston Consulting Group is trying to grapple an even more nebulous concept: social-emotional learning.

The report, “New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology,” convened policymakers, educators, parents, researchers, businesses, tech developers and investors to share how education technology plays an important role in fostering SEL skills in US classrooms. They’re optimistic that SEL can “personalize learning, engage the disengaged, complement what happens in the classroom, extend education outside the classroom and provide access to learning.”

Here’s what the bucket looks like:

Embedding SEL content into existing edtech products, according to the authors, is a key opportunity to equip students with skills needed to 21st century jobs. One way of doing that, the authors add, is including specific SEL vocabulary to current programs, like Facing History and Ourselves does. The program combines activities about identity and community with traditional history instruction.

Despite the the favorable circumstances, the report identifies five barriers to the development of SEL in US classrooms: inadequate supply of specific programs and products, limited awareness of its benefits, low levels of funding and resources, insufficient prioritization, and lack of consensus around reliable SEL measurements.

In order to take advantage of the positive landscape and overcome these difficulties, the report suggest a set of actions that each stakeholder should take (see chart below).

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