Digital learning goes mainstream
If the concept of learning via a computer once carried a stigma, then tens of millions of students and educators have since changed their minds.
2012 is poised to be the year digital learning goes mainstream; instead of a fringe option or an experimental approach. That's because it's no longer a single approach at all, but instead a vast array of tools and choices that open up a tremendous array of possibilities for innovative educators.
This is the promise celebrated by National Digital Learning Day, which is being recognized at schools across the nation today. Those schools will be tuning into a national town hall meeting featuring FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan focused on the most innovative ways educators are using digital technology to further their teaching objectives.
And there's lots of innovation to admire.
If you're still stuck on the notion that digital learning is defined by reading text on the screen or emailing an instructor, it's worth taking a look at how broad and diverse the subject has become. You can find some great resources on integrating technology into the classroom over at web pages by the New York Times or Edutopia that are dedicated to the topic. It's a wide mix, but there's a common theme of technology supporting, not replacing, the classroom teacher.
Digital learning, including online learning, works best when deployed like a teaching assistant hired for a specific task. That task could be tailoring a personalized curriculum for each student, broadening class discussion, bringing lessons to life through multimedia, or providing one-on-one tutoring.
With this kind of flexibility, it's no surprise that the rate of growth in online enrollment is ten times the rate for all of higher education. The very notion of an online course is being redefined, now encompassing everything from a traditional lecture-based class for academic credit to a series of automated activities designed to teach specific skills.
But don't let all the possibilities overwhelm you. Instead, pick the one thing you'd like to improve in your class and look for the digital tool you can hire to do the job. What will that one new thing be for you?