Use of digital techniques to understand and foster the pupils’ development of the brain

The author of this magazine article is Teresa Farroni, Professor from the Department of Developmental and Socialization Psychology of the Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy.

The scientific knowledge on the human brain and its development during the entire course of typical and atypical trajectories need to guide us in the design and evaluation of innovative digital applications with the aim of intervening on those mental processes underlying specific psychophysical, learning and neurodevelopmental challenges.
From the multidisciplinary union of neuroscience, developmental psychology, and teaching skills of this group, my talk focused on the study of brain development through the use of different digital systems.

Digital Technologies support the development of interaction skills

In particular, digital technologies like Virtual reality, Augmented reality, Mixed reality and multimodal digital stimulations are unique tools for their power of immersion in a controlled and safe environment, in which the users can interact with scenarios designed to respond to their individual learning needs. Sensorimotor stimulations, activities for the recognition of the self and the others through virtual representation of the person, strengthening skills to interact with the external world and avoid sensory isolation, are just some of the more disruptive prospects for intervening both on learning processes and difficulties that people face at many developmental stages.
Developmental cognitive neuroscience and virtual reality can and must therefore support one another: in the design of these technologies, it is mandatory to know which possibilities and limits come from the development of our sensory systems. The brain responses resulting from the user-tool interaction can in turn give new information on brain functioning and on its typical and atypical development.
In order to provide exhaustive answers in this sense, a deep knowledge of the brain and of how it builds our reality starting from sensory perception is necessary. At the same time, this new field needs to cope with both the beneficial aspects and the possible risks (ie. Electromagnetic fields, obesity, sleep disorders, attentional disorder, isolations etc etc) underling the massive responsibility that our society has. Starting from the teachers of every school level, it is fundamental to teach students and parents the correct use of the digital progress.

Research on digital technologies to innovate the learning process

During the talk I had at Acer for Education EMEA Teachers Advisory Council, an example of the application of the Academic research/action was presented (NUIEVE lab), showing how possible interventions on a behavioural and neural level can modulate learning processing and improve our interaction with the environment both in real and in virtual reality.
This presentation has been done with the awareness that training and research on digital technologies for intervention purposes is a first and foremost care action for the operators in the education field, who are confronted every day with the need for improvement and innovation of tools and methodologies.

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