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Digital learning in all areas of life

Everyone learns something new every day – and increasingly with digital media rather than in the traditional way. Tablets, smartphones and smartboards make this possible. In this article, we explain where the opportunities and challenges of digital learning lie and what a modern digitalisation concept in schools involves. You will also find out how digital learning takes place at school, at work or at home and what is particularly important in education with regard to the digitalisation of teaching.

What is digital learning?

Unlike in the past, children and young people today learn almost as a matter of course with the help of digital media support. Be it homeschooling at home or at school thanks to digital smartboards, tablets and other technologies that support learning, make it more digital and therefore more varied. Not all teachers use technology equally effectively. However, further training is also driving digital change in the teaching profession.

But what does digital learning actually involve? Learning with digital media and tools takes place independently of time and space. Books, journals and traditional blackboard materials are now often supplemented or in some cases already replaced by new forms of digital learning.

Printed or written content is presented using digital media to make the learning process more interactive and easier to understand . This has advantages for students and teachers alike. On the one hand, the learning process takes place in many different ways. On the other hand, teachers benefit from the modern way of preparing lessons, which is more time-saving and flexible thanks to digital media.

Digital learning content can be made available in different ways:

  • School cloud for sharing documents and communication
  • Learning together in class video chat
  • Mailing list
  • Learning apps (e.g. Anton App)
  • Educational videos (e.g. YouTube)
  • Podcasts
  • Online tutoring portals
  • eBooks
  • Online learning software
  • and more

Shaping education digitally

In 2019, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) conducted statistics on digital learning in line with the topic. The results showed that digital media for learning are primarily used in secondary schools today.

This means that almost 60 percent of 10 to 15-year-olds were already using various learning platforms before the pandemic and the introduction of homeschooling. In the over-16 age group, the figure was even higher at more than 70 percent. The proportion is likely to have increased significantly again during the coronavirus pandemic, as the group of 6 to 10-year-olds have also experienced an introduction to digital learning in very different ways since then.

Digital learning opportunities have therefore increased significantly – especially the use of online courses. However, not all children and young people benefit equally from this, as many platforms and learning opportunities are only available for a fee. In addition, modern devices such as tablets or computers are often required.

How well digital learning works therefore depends in part on the parents’ income. However, their willingness to use digital media at home and to control their use also has an influence. Most families today do have a computer. However, there is a lack of mobile devices such as tablets, which is why low-income families often received financial support to purchase or borrowed devices from school during the pandemic.

Schools in the digital transformation

The digital transformation in companies is already much more advanced than in Germany’s schools. Nevertheless, the focus here is also increasingly on further training for teachers and equipping them with digital media in order to optimally prepare pupils for the digital transformation of the professional world.

It’s not just digital teaching that benefits from this. Traditional teaching can also be made future-proof through the increased use of online education and innovative elements and technologies.

Opportunities and challenges of digital learning

Digital learning offers many advantages, and not just for schoolchildren. Trainees, students and teachers can also benefit from digitalisation in education. However, there are also some disadvantages. Both are briefly explained in more detail here and then compared in a table.

Digital learning – advantages

If educationis digital , it brings the advantage of self-determination in terms of time and place of learning. Pupils and students can decide for themselves when and where to study, which demonstrably makes the whole learning process more effective. Whether at home, at school or even abroad – with digital learning methods, time and space play less and less of a role.

The learning process is also more effective at university, as content can be implemented in a more interesting, interactive and therefore much more varied way for everyone. People with disabilities can also actively participate digitally. Screen readers, screen magnifiers and other tools make digital learning accessible, which promotes equal opportunities.

When you consume education online, you also learn through all your senses. Learning material that is heard, seen in a video and then perhaps tried out in practice remains much better in the long-term memory than learning content that is taught by teachers in frontal lessons.

Digital learning also promotes media skills, which is very useful for later professional life. Here, the use of digital mediais often a prerequisite for recruitment.

Digital learning is also very beneficial for pupils who are slower or significantly faster than average. Thanks to digital learning content, they go through the material at their own pace, repeat it several times if necessary or use additional offers to improve their level.

Digital learning – disadvantages

One of the disadvantages of digital learning is that the purchase of the necessary technology should not be underestimated. In addition, there are maintenance costs and costs for necessary updates.

The daily consumption of media content can lead to digital overload. There is even a certain potential for addiction when children and young people spend more time in front of computers and tablets. Since not every tool is pedagogically recommended, it is important that parents and teachers monitor it to ensure that the right learning content reaches the child.

To ensure that traditional handwriting does not suffer, children should also continue to work regularly with pen and paper, especially at primary school age, but also later on.

Digital learning advantages

  • Interactive and effective
  • Learning through play is fun and varied
  • Material individually tailored to the learning level
  • Less preparation work for teachers
  • Knowledge transfer via different senses
  • Self-determined learning at any location
  • Barrier-free

Disadvantages of digital learning

  • High acquisition costs
  • Danger of digital overload
  • Not every tool/software is pedagogically recommendable
  • Lack of control over learning content
  • Addictive potential
  • Classical handwriting suffers
  • Dependence on fast Internet and modern end devices

School digitisation concept – regular further training for teachers

Pupils benefit from improved teaching quality thanks to digital learning and more education online . However, this presupposes that teachers are appropriately trained and can handle digital media correctly and, above all, in a professional pedagogical manner. In addition to technical knowledge, it is important to teach children and young people how to use media responsibly.

Digital media should support, but by no means completely replace other learning methods. Handwriting, personal communication and alternative leisure activities remain important. In particular, teachers need to teach the healthy use of social networks, messenger services and online games in their educational work.

Digital learning: Methods

Today, digital smartboards are increasingly being used in classroom teaching. They not only make it possible to consume education online , but also to make them interactive and lively. At home, other tools are suitable for effective learning together or alone.

Frequently chosen methods for digital learning include, for example, the following:

  • Online courses in the school cloud
  • Video training on various learning platforms
  • Virtual classrooms for homeschooling
  • Various learning apps

Conclusion:

Thanks to smartboards at school or homeschooling via learning platforms, pupils and teachers can now work through the subject matter digitally. In order for digital learning at school to have a positive impact on other areas of life, it is important that teachers are professionally qualified, but also that parents monitor the learning opportunities at home. The digitalisation of teaching and the pedagogical teaching of media skills have an impact on later opportunities in professional life and will therefore continue to play an important role in schools and training institutions.

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