The way we learn has changed a lot. Although the vast majority of kindergarten through high school students still attend in-person daily classes, technology has shaped these classrooms and changed the way students interact with their curriculum.
Older students at the university level are increasingly taking blended learning or full online classes while juggling other obligations, such as jobs and family. Digital learning is here to stay, and it is estimated that half of classes will take place online by 2019. So how is this shift affecting the future of education? Here are 7 of the many ways technology is helping us to learn and grow.
Students don’t all learn in the same way, and new digital tools can help provide the customization needed for success. For teachers with 30 students or more in one classroom, technology and digital learning can help to tailor lessons to suit each student’s level and needs.
Using digital whiteboards, tablets, and other devices equipped with curriculum software, teachers can ensure that each student is working on lessons that are appropriate for them, freeing up time to work with students individually.
Digital Learning Improves Teachers’ Professional Development
It’s not just students that benefit from online and digital learning. Teachers can continue to learn and grow through online courses, with some even earning additional degrees.
Online classes are very popular for professional development in almost every field, as they help people move forward in their career without taking time off to go back to school.
Education for Working Professionals
Being successful in the modern business world means being adaptable, agile, and able to learn new skills quickly.
By drawing on the huge number of digital learning resources available online, working professionals can advance their careers with self-study, get additional degrees by studying in the evenings and on weekends, and adapt to the changing needs of the workplace.
Some employers are even beginning to sponsor online education as a workplace benefit, like Starbucks, which partners with Arizona State University to help baristas earn their bachelor’s degree free of charge.
Making Learning Accessible
Working professionals, stay-at-home parents, and other people who have difficulty attending traditional classes can often fit online learning into their busy schedules.
Digital learning makes degrees that may have been out of reach previously more accessible, and often less expensive as well.
Making education available to all who want to learn will advance the future of education and help students get ahead in work and in life.
Helping to Train for In-Demand Jobs
Some fields are beginning to notice a decline in the number of qualified applicants for jobs. Nursing is a good example of this problem. Around 500,000 nurses are expected to retire by 2022, leaving a shortfall that will have a negative impact on patient care, especially as the average age of the population rises.
Online learning could help to fill crucial roles like this by helping to train people in industries that need more qualified applicants, or in newer fields with fewer degree programs.
Online courses make it possible for interested students to study an in-demand field without moving to a new city or being limited by classroom capacity.
Improve Flexibility in Education
Because digital learning can be done anytime, anywhere, it gives students more freedom to travel and learn anywhere.
If they need to travel for any reason, for example, digital learning allows students to take their schoolwork with them and study from anywhere with an internet connection. This flexibility allows more students to get the education they need to succeed.
VR as a Learning Tool
Digital learning incorporates many different mediums of learning, and virtual reality (VR) is one of the up-and-coming classroom technologies.
By immersing students in a virtual world, it’s easy to engage younger learners in a history lesson, or to bring the whole class on a “field trip” to a museum thousands of miles away. VR is even being used in some classrooms as a tool for helping students with special needs.
Digital Learning: Helping All Students Succeed
Despite criticisms of digital learning in the past, there is a lot of benefit to blended and online learning when they are used properly. Providing access, flexibility and customization are important to the future of education, and digital tools are key to achieving these goals.
Whether the student is fifteen or fifty-five, digital learning could be the answer to making sure everyone has access to a well-rounded education.