Thursday, November 01, 2018

Technology can support social-emotional learning

One of the perks of being an instructor for the Wilkes University/ Discovery Master of Science degree in instructional media is access to the research databases at Wilkes’ Farley Library. (Students in the masters program get access to these databases, too, as well as a subscription to Discovery Education Streaming!)

I conducted a research query on social-emotional learning and came up with tons of research studies and methods for infusing social-emotional learning into the classroom and across the content areas. There was a small research study from 2015 by Iaosanurak, Chanchalor and Murphy that piqued my interest entitled “Social and emotional learning around technology in a cross-cultural, elementary classroom.
The researchers discussed the work of others which indicated social competencies and emotional competencies are important to help students learn. In addition, the authors stated that cultural issues, gender issues, and lack of time to focus on anything but academics were often deterrents to addressing social-emotional learning in schools.
As outlined in the abstract:
The purpose of the study reported on in this paper was to design and test an intervention with elementary-aged children to promote social and emotional learning around technology. The intervention structured learning around technology as a catalyst and scaffolding tool that engages learners in cross-cultural, collaborative interaction, dialogue, problem-solving, decision-making and reflection in a face-to-face context.1
The overview of the process of this study would not be hard to replicate in a classroom using online tools and/or apps. The components of the activities were based on six interactive videos/stories, a discussion forum, a mind map, and a learning journal.


Each of the interactive digital stories was approximately twenty pages long and had no sound due to the lack of headphones in the research classroom. However, the addition of sound in classrooms with computer/tablet headphones would not take away from the goal of the exercise.
In each of the six stories “there is a socioemotional conflict or problem that is resolved through positive behavior on the part of the characters in the story”.2
The steps for each of the six activities include:
  1. Students get into small groups
  2. They view the animated digital story/video online, either as a small group or individually
  3. They discuss the six questions provided face-to-face and post their answers to the discussion forum
  4. All students view the discussion forum responses of the other groups
  5. In their group, they come to consensus on the best responses from all the groups
  6. As a group, students use a single online mind map to present their exemplars
  7. They view the mind maps of the other groups and discuss them face-to-face with their own group
  8. Each group uses the online learning journal to answer the group reflection question
The series of six questions the small groups answer after each story are:
  1. What happened?
  2. What were you feeling?
  3. What was good and bad about the experience?
  4. How is the story important for you?
  5. What else could you have done?
  6. If it happened again, what would you do?
The group reflection question for the learning journal is: What did you learn from the stories and discussions today?


There are any number of sites and tools that can be used for adapting this activity for your classroom.
The following links provide suggestions of stories to use with various grade levels in support of developing social-emotional competencies. Older students could even create stories that younger students could view.

Social-emotional stories

Following are some suggestion of technology tools for students to use during the activities.

Discussion group apps/tools

G Suite (info)
  • The power of G Suite (formerly Google Docs) is the collaborative nature of some of its tools. Students can have a discussion group in a shared Google Doc or on a slide in a shared Google Slide presentation. For a true discussion forum, Google Groups could be used, too.
Padlet (iOSAndroidChromeWeb)
  • Each student group could use a note on a Pallet page dedicated to the story being used for a discussion group. All students would be able to see the postings from all the other groups.
Twitter (iOSAndroidWeb)
  • Students could use Twitter posts to share their ideas, with each group using their hashtag in addition to a hashtag for the story being studied.
  • Notion is a project-management tool that has many different features. It could be a good choice for housing all the items the students need, allowing collaborative discussions and work when not in the classroom, and teacher viewing of the work of the groups
Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook (info)
  • With a free Office365 account, a OneNote Class Notebook has a personal workspace for every student, a content library for handouts, and a collaboration space. The collaboration space would be a great space for the discussion groups.

Mind map apps/tools

There are tons of mind mapping tools and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are collaborative so each member of the group can contribute and some are just for one person to input while the rest of the group contributes.
Here are some for you to try out!

Reflection apps/tools

Padlet (iOSAndroidChromeWeb)
  • Student groups could leave their final reflection answer on a Padlet note. They could also create a graphic in Adobe Spark Post (iOSAndroidonline) or Canva (iOSAndroidChromeonline) to attach to the note.
Penzu (iOSAndroidWeb)
  • Penzu is a personal journaling tool that also allows sharing of posts with others. For these activities, the teacher could have the students share with other groups or just keep it private between the teacher and each group.
Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook (info)
  • A separate shared page for each story can be created in a Class Notebook for the reflection answers at the end of the activity. All students would be able to see the reflections.
What are your methods for infusing social-emotional learning into the curriculum? What other tools do you use for discussion groups, mind mapping, and reflection? Please share on Twitter! #kathyschrock