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What can teachers learn from the 2017 general election?

What lessons can teachers learn from the successes and failures of our political parties, and how can these lessons be applied to the modern classroom?

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While the general election is over – for now at least – experts across the UK and beyond are sharing their insights on the key takeaways from the campaign. So, what lessons can teachers learn from the successes and failures of our political parties, and how can these lessons be applied to the modern classroom?

You have to be innovative with technology

The 2017 general election saw our younger generation flex their political muscles and make a real impact for the first time. According to Sky News, over 66% of 18-24’s voted, and, in backing Labour, this youthquake was a key factor in Corbyn’s 10-point advance. Labours policies (e.g. scraping university fees) are part of the reason for its success in appealing to this age group, but whats also clear is that Labour deployed new campaigning techniques both online and on the ground. Techniques that appealed directly to younger voters.

Of course, both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn used social media during the election campaign. And, we all understand the power of social when it comes to establishing political power. President Trump famously said that without the tweets, I wouldn’t be here, and according to his digital director, Facebook was massively influential in the US Presidency race – not least because of the prevalence of fake news, and its ability to generate most of the Trump campaign’s $250 million in online fundraising.

But, while social media hasn’t yet had the same impact here in the UK, it was Labour that capitalised on its potential to engage with hundreds of thousands of mostly young people. For example, when May used Facebook for a Live Q&A session, Corbyn gatecrashed the live chat and stole her thunder; demonstrating that it’s not just about using social media, but HOW you use it.

Children spend hours online every day and regularly communicate via social networks. So, the lesson for teachers is – with technology playing such a huge part in pupils everyday lives – it’s not enough just to play lip service to modern communication channels. Instead, you have to use these in new and interesting ways if you want to keep engaging the most tech-savvy generation yet.

Digital literacy is becoming increasingly important

According to research more than half of voters have found it difficult to tell the difference between real and fake news during this election campaign. The three main parties were also exposed to criticism and had to pull their YouTube advertising after it was revealed that election ads had been placed next to videos of Islamic extremists.

Fake news has also crept into the classroom, with more than a third of teachers now seeing false information found online – cited in their pupils work or classroom discussions. This disturbing trend shows that despite an increase in the use of educational technology, many students still lack the digital literacy needed to distinguish between fact and fiction. And that’s something teachers need to address. Find out more about fighting fake news in the modern classroom.

Personalisation is important when winning hearts and minds

According to marketing experts, analysis shows that the campaign leaders failed to use personalisation techniques in their communications with the electorate. So, both Labour and the Conservatives could have done more to build stronger relationships with voters.

In the classroom, personalisation is even more important. Indeed, the more teachers understand their students as people, the more motivated these pupils become. Let’s face it we are all more inspired when we feel we are known, understood and appreciated – whether that’s to turn out to vote or to engage in lessons.

The good news is that most modern pedagogical methods encourage teachers to tailor their lessons to suit the individual – with advances in technology helping teachers to move away from one-size-fits-all teaching. So maybe it’s the politicians that can learn from teachers, not the other way round.

Find out more about the importance of digital literacy in the classroom; and how you can introduce it into your lessons.

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