What Makes Up A Good Digital Classroom

A good digital classroom must use technology appropriately to increase teacher contact time to collaborate and discuss rather than the delivery of the content.

The biggest challenge in current times the educators are facing especially in higher education is to engage Generation ‘Z’ students in their learning and teaching process. Generation ‘Z’ers were born between the year 1995-2010 and they grew up with digital technologies, used gadgets and smartphones more than pen and paper. They are well versed in understanding graphical user interfaces and visual languages and excel in information and communication technologies compared to the older generation. The Generation ‘Z’ers will become an important generation for the university as they will be a large population of the university in coming years. The digital knowledge of these students is underutilised or not recognised by educators which makes their classes ineffective and eventually they drop out of the course. For example, these generation students instead of reading an article prefer to watch a video which summarises it, as they grew up understanding visual language better than reading it. A study reveals that their attention to lectures is not more than 9 minutes and loose interest just as fast. Apart from this they are good at multitasking and need immediate result and feedback on the activity they engaged in. However, still, educators are using the traditional approach of the didactic learning process and blue book exams to these students and becoming a hard task to keep them engaged. So, how to bridge this gap?

As we currently live in technological world and looking at the rapid technological advancements and changes, higher education institutes must have taken a call to upgrade their curriculum and resources, such as regular update of curriculum embedded with latest technology, classroom facilities with digital technology and usage of digital tools and techniques for effective learning, teaching and assessment so that the classes are interesting and engaging. However, it is noticed that 80% of higher education institutes in India do not have the capacity to provide such classrooms with digital tools for effective learning, teaching and assessment necessary for Generation ‘Z’ students. It is evident from the current pandemic that many institutes struggled to adept technology, academics was standstill for more than three to four months after the first lockdown in India and still struggling to conduct classes and examinations on online mode with required rigour. Some of them are running their business by implementing patchwork strategies like posting recorded videos on social media through mobile technology, computers and cloud-based video conferencing tools. Although educators are using the latest digital tools in delivering lectures, however big question comes to mind: are these so-called digital classrooms effective? Are they able to engage students? Is the rigour required to develop skills are maintained?

Digital classrooms are misunderstood by many educators. After interacting with many people from the education fraternity, here are some of the answers from them about digital classrooms. They believe that digital classrooms are just online videos or replacing teachers with videos or online classes or students working without structure and in isolation or spending the entire class online. This clearly indicates that educators used these digital tools to deliver content online in terms of audios and videos. This approach of content delivery looks like the educator becomes the dispenser of knowledge, which is more teacher-centric. Inappropriate usage of these technologies has hindered the process of learning and teaching. So, what makes up a good digital classroom?

Digital classroom is not just using digital tools in delivering classes but using them appropriately has a significant effect on learning and teaching. These tools could be mobile technology, computers, smart devices and automated systems enabled with mobile applications and software. Such tools made learning and teaching more flexible and time efficient. For a good digital classroom, a digital educator must use these tools and become an instructional designer which creates an environment promoting a student centric approach. These classes must have a blend of teacher led structured instructions and self-paced learning wherein students take more responsibility for their own learning. While designing a digital classroom one must see that it is favourable to all students by expanding the classes beyond four walls of the school creating cooperative and self-exploratory learning. Apart from disseminating this knowledge, one important parameter of the digital classroom is to engage students with authentic tasks which are relevant to the current needs of the industry focussing more on innovation and creativity. Digital tools must be effectively used to provide constructive feedback immediately which provides an opportunity to develop their academics skills. For a good digital classroom, educators need to think innovative ways of engaging students. There are many tools available in the market and one such approach is using a game-based learning platform. Such platform provides visual progression of the task they are engaged in terms of badges they bagged, points they scored, rewards they received and feedback about their performance in real time which motivates Generations ‘Z’ and improve their learning experiences. Such an approach found to be interactive, interesting and effective.

To summarise, a good digital classroom must use technology appropriately to increase teacher contact time to collaborate and discuss rather than delivery of the content. It must create an environment that increases student responsibility. Must have a blend of direct instructions and constructivism learning. A class where absent students won’t fall behind and a class where all students are engaged in their learning.

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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