Today’s ‘Digital Education’ May Require ‘Students’ Pick Up New Skill-Sets

Published on September 17, 2019

Today’s educational system may require you to either go back to school, or pick up some new skill-sets. As the saying goes, we truly never stop being students.

‘Digital education’ refers to the various methods and mechanisms an individual utilizes to absorb and obtain information.

Each year, a number of factors contribute to this change in learning. Two factors we emphasize here revolve around the (1) student demographic as well as the (2) technology platforms available for inclusion and utilization in the classroom. 

Students No Longer Need “Chalkboards”

With time, traditional classrooms will fade, becoming as old as a chalkboard, while projectors, tablets, and streaming take over in a more interactive learning environment. Blackboards with chalk pieces and desks will fall back before digital work-space concepts, social learning, and so-called flipped classrooms

But why is it that the top education technologies do not tend to replace the regular classroom? Simple–they enhance it. The innovations in education technology in recent years allow students and teachers to have a much more stable environment, granting full access to the learning materials and methods they need individually and holistically. 

In 2019, students need to move forward and away from the “write my essay” tasks, which they would most likely complete within a matter of seconds. 

So, what advanced educational tech trends should today’s “digital immigrant” be made aware of? 

#1—Should 21st Century Students Be Learning “Coding?”

Today’s students will become the workforce representatives in the early to mid-2020’s. Recognizing that the software industry will be the sector to really hone in on, learning how to code, even on a basic level, can separate you from your colleagues. 

In almost any corporate tech position, having a coding skill set and/or background is either required or highly suggested. 

Take IBM or HP Enterprises. They are immersed in various stages of technology, looking for candidates (most often millennials) who have a passion and understanding for coding. Other positions such as web-server maintenance and/or smartphone design this also is necessary.  

Google, for example, has their Grasshopper app to help any person get started with coding, learning to code with their smartphone, regardless of what their previous experience or profession is/was. 

Computer literate and programming specialists are frequently required in corporate teams to neutralize particular skill gaps. Coding courses gain more and more popularity because of this case. And along with the growth of demand, the variety of propositions in education technology trends and learning plans increases. 

For students, having coding courses, especially if they are made free (for beginners), would be an extremely powerful and efficient resource to help develop and/or advance vital skills and understandings associated with math, IT, and logical reasoning. This has far more value than a simple line in a resume or professional CV.  

#2—You Have Seamless Access to Materials

Forget dragging your feet to the library after class. The days when students had to challenge each other by obtaining their “reading list” and having to find their resources in the library are far behind us.

Welcome to the digital age and the power of the internet. When it’s being used properly and not to bully/troll and/or engage in poor digital hygiene, the Internet can be a powerful resource that makes an infinite number of sources available to the user. Textbooks are now digital; articles are now downloadable; and trade journals are now available for use–all without having to request or sign up for an obscure, traditional subscription service via snail mail.

On top of the type and format of content available, the platforms for which content is made available is also growing more intelligent.

Students now have the ability to use “smart devices,” tablets, and/or “smart displays,” allowing them to read and learn in a variety of different ways which are tailored to their specific learning needs. 

From class to home, students can switch the devices and platforms for which they study and refer to. With the addition of the “cloud” and associated services, you can never truly “escape” from your materials. 

Almost all of the bigger tech brands keep their cloud services along with providing applications created especially to organize a seamless system of files. Cloud servers such as Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox all convert mobile learning into an opportunity to improve the eLearning studying mechanism. 

#3—Learning Extends Beyond the Classroom

Over the past 100 years, great strides and improvements have been made in the field of “study abroad” and international education. However, there remains a great need for improvement.

Distance Learning vs. Online Learning

While the idea of teaching individuals to interact “beyond the classroom” is far from new, the 21st century of “distance learning” is the progressing technology trend for the upcoming year. 

In a nutshell, the key difference between online learning and distance learning is geography. In an online environment, students can be together with an instructor, while distance learning implies that students and instructor are separated.

Often, students learn in the comfort of their own homes or satellite areas set up by their schools. Regardless, the learning process is almost exclusively individual, with little interaction among students outside of projects. Instructors may use webinars, videos, audio recordings, email, snail mail, or textbooks to teach their students. 

For the 2019-2020 period, improving 5G networks in North America seems to be the focus, whereas online classrooms will turn into a reality. 

One new profitable benefit of accelerated distance learning is the possibility to establish connections between schools and children from rural districts.

#4—Educating Through “Gamification”

The video-game industry is currently undergoing an unusual transition. Staying away from arguments as to mental health and other national claims in light of the recent mass-shootings, video-games have become widely accepted with today’s generation.

Existing video-game systems can be and have already been converted into embedded learning mechanisms, primarily for younger audiences. Take Leapfrog example.

For a more mature audience, strategy games like Fortnite and Headspace provide for a gamified experience. These games may be addictive, but could also promote learning.

In a recent study, the Stanford Graduate School of Education’s news center spoke with three researchers from their school on how the addictive nature of these systems can actually be used to promote a more valuable learning experience

For instance, the Nintendo Labo, a series of DIY kits crafted to work with Nintendo Switch, combines many different facets, including cardboard construction with digital controllers, allowing users to design and build experiments, while seeing their digital engineering concepts come to life

#5—Have a Personalized System of Learning

Remember when you were in school and having to cram hundreds of pages of textbook material into your head before every big test? You probably developed a variety of methods on how to retain and memorize the voluminous amounts of information.

Whether you are a visual, auditory, reading/writing, and/or kinesthetic learner, understanding how you learn is extremely important in deciding what type of technology to adapt, utilize, and conform to your system of learning.

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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