In a world of rapid technological advancement and digitisation, digital learning is the important next step for education. Using digital learning tools, teachers can prepare children to meet the demands of the digital world, and children learning at home can more practically, effectively and reliably access home-based learning materials.
Why digital learning matters
Digital learning used in conjunction with traditional education methods has a number of benefits for student learning. Digital education is flexible, practical and adaptable, and it can be personalised to cater to the needs of individual children and learning environments. It also provides an opportunity for children to develop and practise digital literacy skills.
Digital learning has been shown to boost student engagement with learning materials, especially where gamification is concerned. Digital education materials are fun and interactive, promoting participatory learning. They can be adjusted for self-paced learning and levelled teaching, and they make it easier for students, parents and teachers to keep track of strengths, weaknesses and progress.
One of the key benefits of digital learning is its accessibility. Digital learning tools are an important part of responding to diverse classrooms and non-standard learning environments. Using digital means, education materials can be distributed to and exchanged with children learning at home quickly and simply.
History of digital learning
Until the mid-1900s, education was almost exclusively print-based, but with the advent of computers, digitisation began to appear in classrooms.
Over the years, children were increasingly provided with access to computers and other digital technologies, learning basic commands to create, locate and share information. Towards the end of the twentieth century, computers began to become an education staple, and children were regularly assigned learning tasks that relied on technology.
In the 2000s, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education began to earn greater emphasis, and digital education grew in prevalence.
Today, rapid technological advancements mean that the face of digital learning is always changing. Children learn to use a range of digital technologies and media tools to learn and communicate at school and beyond.
Digital K-12 schooling is an increasingly popular choice, with many parents choosing to homeschool, relying on digital resources to ensure quality education at home.
Homeschooling is frequently reported to produce high-performing students, and part of this pattern is due to the flexibility and personalisation of education that digitally assisted homeschooling provides.
For homeschoolers, digital learning tools can take the burden off parents, providing clear, easy-to-follow, curriculum-guided course materials that can be accessed at the click of a button. Well-structured digital learning tools help to ensure that homeschool students stay up to date with age-appropriate curriculum and resources, even if their supervisors aren’t qualified teachers.
Digital learning materials have long been important tools for virtual schools, and with increasing technological capabilities, the value that digital learning can offer is on the rise.
Virtual schools are a popular solution for children who, as a result of distance, extracurricular commitments, medical needs or something else, are unable to attend traditional schooling.
Virtual schools rely on digital means for the communication and exchange of all learning materials. For virtual learners, digital technologies enable communication with teachers and peers and participation in lesson activities and course materials. Digital learning tools reduce educational marginalisation by providing instant access to learning materials to all students, regardless of where their learning space is.
Tips and tricks for digital learning
There are a few things you can do to make using digital learning to teach online as easy and effective as possible.
- Give clear, comprehensive instructions. Learning to respond well to instruction is a valuable skill, and digital education environments provide a great starting point for developing this skill. With easy-to-follow directions, children can learn to self-guide and self-assess their responses to learning tasks.
- Invite children to take part in collaborative discussions and activities. Remote learning doesn’t mean lone learning. Children can benefit greatly from interacting with their teachers and peers as they face challenges and learn new concepts.
- Choose engaging digital learning materials. When students are learning online, maintaining their interest is paramount to delivering meaningful lesson content. By selecting resources, tools and materials that interest students and promote participatory learning, it’s possible to provide value for all students in every lesson.
- Promote goal setting and reflection. In digital learning environments, setting goals and reflecting on personal growth are important steps in tracking and maintaining meaningful learning, just like they are in traditional classrooms. Prompting children to identify their own strengths and weaknesses can help them to develop a strong understanding of their learning style and academic personality, providing them with the foundation they need to make the most of both digital and traditional education materials.
- Explore the resources that are available. With rates of digital learning on the rise, there are plenty of tools and resources available. Try a system like Let’s teach! Primary that is curriculum-linked and assessment-inclusive and that allows you and your students to access large amounts of diverse education content.