Historically speaking, school guidance counselors and seamless technology integration are rarely discussed in the same
conversation. I would like to change that. Incorporating technology into school counseling efforts provides tremendous benefits
for today’s students and a whole new world of opportunities for counselors potentially struggling to reach certain student populations.
Regardless of the specific student population being discussed, the ubiquitous undeniable. From creativity and movie making
in kindergarten to having an authentic audience for new ideas (Blair, 2012), technology is here to stay and it is incredibly powerful.
In counseling, it is not only incredibly powerful, it is incredibly empowering. For many students, particularly high school students,
the idea of being vulnerable in a small group setting, a whole class setting, or even in a one-to-one setting can be overwhelming and
anxiety inducing. Some students who do choose to utilize the counselor as a resource on a regular basis will still present their opinions
and insights in a more reserved manner for fear of potentially “tattling” on a friend. For students in more challenging socioeconomic
positions and hailing from neighborhoods with higher crime rates, the “snitches get stitches” mentality is a foreboding factor when
trying to manage social and emotional challenges.
Roblyer (2016) addresses the need to reflect on the past so that we may effectively shape the future. When viewing this idea through the
counseling lens, looking at the efficacy, or lack thereof, of large group and small group intervention with students when dealing with
issues such as bullying/cyberbullying and personal accountability for one’s actions, students are quite hesitant to be completely forthcoming
and own their choices and subsequent consequences in the presence of their peers. Enter technology. Various iPad apps, virtual worlds, blogs,
YouTube channels, and a variety of other technology based resources can offer anonymity to students who may very much want to engage in
counseling and self-reflection but are resistant to the idea of doing so in a face-to-face environment. The element of technology integration
creates a safer space for students to be emotionally vulnerable and own up to choices they know are wrong.
Technology integration is beneficial in counseling for countless reasons, and constructivists rejoice — there is real time learning and adjusting
taking place. Simulation situations involving bullying/cyberbullying offer opportunities for making choices in real time, watching consequences play
out in a virtual setting, but allowing for reflection and redirection in a safe zone. Students can “see” the consequences of the choices they might make
without impacting another person’s life. They can reflect on their choices and decisions and discuss in a guided setting with a counselor’s input the
options for better choices in the future. This virtual counseling environment allows for more student vulnerability, a safe space for self-expression, and
the ability to try on different choices without worrying about real consequences. This type of role playing and social emotional learning experience can improve the emotional intelligence and empathy quotients in students without putting anyone at risk when they choose to be vulnerable.
Mastering core content curriculum is no longer a sufficient formula for success. Students must master social emotional learning while simultaneously becoming technologically fluent. Why not marry technology integration with guidance and counseling? Can you imagine the well-adjusted, problem-solving, empathic virtual children that union will produce?
Blair, N. (2012). Technology Integration for The New 21st Century Learner. Principal, v91 n3 p8-11 Jan-Feb 2012.
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.