Digital Learning: Status Quo And Future

Digital learning has already opened up a sea of opportunities in the education and training sector

Digital learning is a type of learning that is facilitated using technology in an effective manner. It encompasses the application of a wide range of instructional practices, including blended and virtual learning. To put it simply, the combination of technology and learning is digital learning. It is an umbrella term in terms of both meaning and its application. Digital learning is not bound by brick-and-mortar walls, unlike traditional learning practices. Its adoption goes beyond the academic environment of schools and colleges, and extends to the workplace environment of businesses and organizations, and even finds its relevance in the military training environment of the 21st century. 

Traditional learning practices are evolving largely driven by the proliferation of technology, rapid growth of digital learning practices, and the learners’ learning mindset. Then, the natural adaptation to the new ways of learning enabled by the digital world we are living in currently with new flavours such as gamification. The learning community itself is moving towards online and digital-enabled learning solutions as they are recognizing the benefits themselves. Digital learning is transforming both the academic industry and the training industry alike. Today, hosting a virtual workshop to rolling out a full course online can be facilitated effectively using digital learning practices. 

Today, there is a plethora of tools, technologies, solutions, and strategies at the disposal of teachers and instructors to facilitate the learning process and enhance the learning experience of the learners. By integrating these tools and technologies into the learning practices, teachers can address the needs and expectations of the learners. This diversity of technological tools and strategies are, in a way, complementary to each other. When combined in an appropriate manner or, in other words, when combined “smartly,” they have the potential to enable learners to learn better and empower them to perform on a much higher level. 

Take, for instance, the concept of gamification – one of the key trends in digital learning innovations. It is a learning approach that incorporates gaming elements (such as points and badges as incentives) to facilitate and enhance learning to a new generation of learners who experience the world through gadgets and for whom 'gaming' is a social phenomenon. 

Challenges are Known and Mitigation Evolve, Continuously 

Of course, there are challenges and barriers to adopting digital learning solutions. Some of the challenges include: 

  • Limited social interaction between and among the learners (say, in vocational studies), 
  • Limited practical skills (for example, teaching biology) 
  • Shorter attention span of the learners, and 
  • Gaps of a digital divide in terms of: 
    • People (haves and have-nots) 
    • Processes (instructional practices) 
    • Technology (tools, devices, and advanced online learning platforms) 
    • Design (of learning environment, and ease of use of technology) 
    • Cost (of tuition, course materials, and technology) 
    • Access (to educational resources). 

Digital Learning Will Transform Next Generation 

Regardless of these challenges and barriers, innovations in the digital learning landscape are continuously evolving in unprecedented ways to address these challenges. Just a decade ago, technology-enabled us to order a physical copy of a book online using an e-commerce website. Gradually, due to the advances in digital technology, the book itself was delivered online enabling us to download it as a full-text document. Now, we are able to access and consume the book online as a good as well as a service in the form of an e-book through a reading app or device. This transition from offline to online delivery to a completely digital product in form and ready for consumption anytime anywhere didn’t happen overnight; the transition took time. 

Similarly, digital learning technology is continuously evolving by the day. Not just digital learning, the concept of learning analytics or the tools and strategies for measuring the impact of digital learning are also undergoing certain recalibrations to keep pace with the innovations in the digital learning domain. 

Digital learning has already become indispensable in the current scenario. In the very near future, it may be entirely integrated into the education system and the training industry to an extent that it may seem inconsequent to refer to “digital learning” as a completely new or a separate concept in the education system as a whole. In the coming days, digital learning might “disperse” or “melt” into the learning ecosystem, much like the concept of school education which became the norm in the realm of formal education. 

In conclusion, no matter what the future holds in store for digital learning, one thing is clear. Digital learning is moving towards one ultimate goal of making the learning process effective aimed at improving learning outcomes. This, in turn, strengthens the digital learning ecosystem and makes it more robust and impactful. Moreover, digital learning has already opened up a sea of opportunities in the education and training sector. It will be interesting to see how the EdTech companies, corporates, schools, educationists, trainers, teachers, parents, and students alike are going to leverage these opportunities. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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