Defining digital education

Digital education is when teachers use electronic tools to create, store and process content and information to enhance teaching and learning. It is the teacher’s role to choose the electronic tools and devices that complement their teaching approach. The decision on what digital tools to use to achieve what outcome is an important part of the process of moving towards integrating digital teaching in the classroom. The use of technology in digital education improves the quality of learning through access to digital media such as video clips, online tools (such as interactive assessments) and teacher-specific tools (such as analytics that track learners’ progress). Digital media also provides learners with opportunities to self-study and interact with ideas and topics in new and exciting ways. 

Digital education is not a new phenomenon. For over 25 years teachers have used technology to enhance the learning experience in their classrooms. There is a wealth of information and experience on what works and how to use it. For example, teachers have used video content to show science experiments and documentaries on historical events, CD-ROMs to provide interactive experiences, test banks to assist in the development of classroom assessment and audio CDs to assist with listening and pronunciation. More recently, this digital content has been made available through interactive whiteboards in classrooms. With the advent of the internet and the provision of online access, as well as the ever-increasing availability of affordable devices such as tablets, a variety of digital education options are now available and widespread adoption is expected in coming years.

Learners can interact with digital education tools at their own pace and use these tools in ways that respond to their learning styles. For learners who are exposed to various digital media applications (apps) in their day-to-day lives, digital education tools offer new ways to engage these 21st Century learners, for example through educational strategies such as gamification or approaches such as mobile learning.

Learners using tablets in the classroom

Read moreDefining digital education

How learning analytics is nurturing educational insight and support

Feedback in education is two-way: Learners, through feedback, can revise and improve, but teachers benefit equally from getting feedback on learners’ progress. Learning analytics in educational technology makes it easy to identify and flag issues and provide learners with responsive, adaptive learning opportunities.

What is learning analytics?

Learning analytics refers to the use of data science to capture information about how learners use educational technology. Using learning analytics means collecting data to understand student performance so that educators can make informed, data-driven decisions.

Read moreHow learning analytics is nurturing educational insight and support

Using digital content in the classroom

Digital education content is material that you access from a digital device. This content could be stored online on a website or downloaded to the device as an e-book or app. It can even be distributed offline via a USB disk or CD-ROM. Some of this content is freely available for re-use and adaptation and is called Open Educational Resources (OERs). Other content has been developed by commercial publishers and is available for purchase similar to a print book. 

Digital content can take many forms that could include videos, animations, interactive diagrams or widgets, audio clips, assessment content, images and text. Some types of content work better on a laptop or PC but all should be able to be accessed on a smartphone or tablet.

A teacher with learners using tablets in a lesson

Read moreUsing digital content in the classroom

What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy can be defined as the ability to understand and engage with information and communication technology. Digital literacy is used in a wide range of devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Digital literacy consists of the skills (both cognitive and technical) and knowledge and behaviours necessary to evaluate and communicate information in an electronic medium. 

Digital literacy is different to computer literacy and digital skills. Computer literacy refers to the ability to use a computer and other related technology. In order to be computer literate, you must have the basic skills and knowledge required to operate the software on a computer. Digital skills focus on what to do and how to do it. Digital literacy focuses on why, when and for whom something should be done. Digital skills require the basic ability to navigate the digital community; however, digital literacy requires more of an understanding. While computer literacy and digital skills are about being able to operate devices, digital literacy is about being able to operate and understand both systems and networks. 

Why is digital literacy important?

Digital literacy is important in today’s society as communicating and connecting with the world via social media has become popular, and most of the information is shared on digital platforms. 

Digital literacy is also becoming a vital component in education. With the emergence of OERs, users need to be digitally literate in order to understand how to use OERs and how to share them with others. Many teachers are making use of educational websites and online quizzes to test learners and help them gain understanding of their work. 

Online Education Chart with keywords and icons

Read moreWhat is digital literacy?

Why curation could be the future of publishing

If you’re an educator, the need to create educational content can sometimes take away time from other educational and organisational roles. Curating content, rather than creating it, has become a viable way to produce engaging, stimulating educational materials that present learners with clear information pathways. What exactly do we mean, however, when we talk about ‘curating’ educational content?

Curating is selecting and arranging to add value

In Michael Bhaskar’s Curation: The Book, the author talks about ‘the power of selection in a world of excess.’ In a world where there is so much high-value content freely available online (content that is available for re-licensing), creating new material isn’t always necessary. Digital technology has resulted in information overload, too. There is so much content available that it is harder than ever to digest all the information available for a given topic.

Read moreWhy curation could be the future of publishing