Nurul Islam Laskar, [email protected]

Educational technology is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning. When referred to its abbreviation, EdTech, it implies the industry of companies that create educational technology. But education and learning cannot be all technology-based alone, other skills, too, are required. One such skill is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Building SEL skills such as self-control requires face-to-face interaction, meaningful discussion, and reflection. EdTech is not a complete solution, but there are tools that can supplement the development of character in the classroom and at home. Self-control, after all, is controlling one’s own responses so they align with short and long-term goals.

While some tools focus specifically on self-control, the websites and apps that we use daily in all our curriculum subjects can be used to promote mindfulness too. We don’t have to stop using the tools we love or toss out our lesson or curriculum schedules to start developing SEL. There are ways, there are tips, and there are tools and actionable ideas for seamlessly integrating self-control and life-skills building into our content classroom.

Having self-control, some prefer to call it “self-regulation”, is about appropriately managing our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It starts with being consistently mindful of ourselves and others, and working towards a high emotional intelligence. So much of the way we use technology today challenges the idea of restraint, from tweeting in anger to posting for “likes”. There has been enormous research suggesting that self-control is a key factor in determining success as an adult, so many educational institutes are creating programmes that address it. Whether or not we get caught up in what self-control is, most educators would agree there is value when students are able to regulate themselves, leading to increased focus and accountability for their actions.

Here is a list of some actions that we can initiate to inculcate self-control. We can take a lesson that helps us think about possible outcomes before posting on social media. We can also host a discussion around our digital impulses (clicking on junk articles, scrolling on social media, or posting for likes). Teachers ought to praise students for effort and action, rather than for general traits such as intelligence. Students, on their part, have to make sure the technology they use doesn’t take the place of, but, instead, supplements, face-to-face interaction.

We can directly target self-control by visiting links such as “Top tools for Building Mindfulness in the Classroom” for more resources focussed on self-control. Online “Pause & Think” videos use music and characters based on familiar body parts to teach students to stop and think before acting and to make the connection that behaving responsibly online is a lot like behaving responsibly offline. Among other online videos, there’s one titled “Smiling Mind”. We need to select a comfy spot, plug in our earphones, and just press play. Smiling Mind is an app that helps youngsters practise meditation through breathing exercises and visualisation. By using this, any youngster can learn lifelong skills to cope with stress and strain.

Building self-control in all spheres involves first paying attention to one’s emotions. We can use tons of prompts and images available on the “Write About This” app to get ourselves writing and thinking about how we feel. All we need to do is to keep a daily journal or listen to the stories they narrate in-app. Another useful internet tool is “Kialo” which is designed to foster thoughtful debate on complex issues.