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Digital learning is a web- based learning whereby information technology is used to impart knowledge to students. It involves mobile learning, adaptive learning, blended learning, classroom technologies, leaning analytics, personalized learning, online learning, open education resources, learning objects, e-textbooks among others. Having been introduced just a few years ago, digital learning has been positively received with a tremendous response all over the world. Many of the schools and colleges have already adopted the method and this have brought a lot of changes in the education system all over the world. Today, teachers and lecturers use large LCD screens as well as projectors to teach kids something that has facilitated learning by making it easier and efficient. However, there are also negative effects of the same in the education system. In this paper, we shall analyze digital learning and the impact it has had on schools and education.
One of the ways in which digital learning has changed the education system is by replacing the use of boards and chalks and replacing these with use of LCD screens and projectors. This is very advantageous to both the students and teachers. Using boards and chalks was way too hectic for teachers, time consuming and could cause health problems to teachers for instance who had some diseases as Asthma. Through digital learning, these problems are solved as teachers can project the notes easily for students. This method is fast, very efficient and convenient. A lot of time is saved and therefore learning is enhanced which also improves the performance of students.
Digital learning will help schools to engage better with students. Initially, with classroom -based courses, there was a huge problem in retaining students. At times, students had a very hard time in connecting with instructors and course materials. Some students could therefore fall behind their peers in studies something that led into poor performance. With digital learning however, students can connect well with others and with their instructors. Teachers can easily engage their students and retention rates have improved to up to 60%. Learning is now very flexible and less stressful in that students can handle learning alongside other commitments (Moreno). There is also less pressure while engaging students because of the availability of apps, devices, and other multimedia tools that have made learning very enjoyable and interactive. Content is delivered in ways all students can relate and learning is hence a wonderful experience with digital learning.
With digital learning, students’ digital literacy is improved. This in turn has led to career advancement and increased to a greater percentage the employability of the students once they are done with their studies because they are well prepared to work in a digital environment. Today, the world has become digital in that most of the works are done online including shopping. Every career therefore required that students have some technical know-how for them to easily reach their clients. Marketers for instance must know how to reach people and provide exceptional services and this must be done online because many people now communicate through online platforms. Digital learning has therefore helped students be good communicators by making it easy to communicate with their peers. Lecturers and other people.
Schools and colleges are now able to enroll students from all over the globe courtesy of digital learning. This is because today teachers and lecturers can teach online by use of various digital mediums. Video technology is one of the platforms that has been extensively used to teach online. Students and teachers can engage from the comfort of their homes without physically having to meet. This creates flexibility as students are not forced to move to a certain city or town to study a preferred course. With online learning, students are not also forced to study at a specific time but are given a chance to study their own time. This has seen increase in enrollment rates in schools and colleges and many of the students can now achieve their goals by pursuing whatever courses of their choice anywhere in the world without having to travel there. This has also given a chance to persons that could be busy such that they are not able to move to a certain region to study or cannot study at a certain time online. For instance, there are parents who have children therefore have difficult to study at a certain time. Some people also work but are willing to pursue other courses or advance in their studies hence cannot subscribe to a certain strict timeline. Some people are only able to study at night or during weekends hence cannot be forced to study at a specific time. These are given a chance to study at their own time through digital learning and like the rest they can achieve their dreams. Lecturers also teach from the comfort of their homes and can easily pursue their interests when they are not online.
Digital learning helps students be more confident and improve their participation. Some students are shy nature are shy hence cannot afford to participate in classroom discussions. With online learning however, such students can express themselves freely without fear of being ridiculed by their colleagues. This makes it possible for teachers to get a wide range of view from students that are very helpful in the course. Students are given a chance to bond with each other and with their teachers and can help each other cope with class and course materials for better performance. Digital learning therefore helps to ensure full participation and can even improve talent among students that are quiet or shy from sharing openly to their when in physical classrooms.
Digital learning has allowed schools to get special needs for the disabled students. Life has become easier for these students who are now able to learn efficiently like the rest of their colleagues. Students that suffer from such diseases as Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, and blindness for instance requires special needs to enable them study and with technology, they have been provide with these special needs and can enjoy studying without much difficulties. With Assistive technology, children that suffer from physical impairment and cognitive problems are able to learn smoothly. These technologies include among others speech programs, proofreading programs, assistive listening systems, math tools and graphic organizers (Clark and Mayer). This means that the education systems have expanded as to accommodate even students that are challenged something that was not possible with the former education system. It is therefore a relieve to parents with special needs children because they can also have them be educated in a way to help them cope with life.
Technology has also played a major role in transforming education through research. Research is today so advanced, and students don’t have to go to the libraries to do their research as they can do it at the comfort of their homes or rooms. Information is all over in the internet and one can easily find the solutions to their problems and questions. Scholars can easily prepare their thesis and dissertations with much ease and this has helped solve real world problems in an easy manner. Less time is used in carrying out research because of availability of resources thus education is made easier.
With digital learning, paper work is greatly reduced. The former system had so much paperwork on both the side of the teachers and the students. With technology however, no much paper work is required because of the work is done online and learning materials are in kept in the soft form in computers and laptops. Exams are always carried online and teachers will not have to carry bundles of work to evaluate in their homes. This reduces the costs of buying materials for schools because learning resources are stored in computers. Moreover, most of the questions today are mainly multiple-choice questions that can be evaluated in computers with much easy and little time. Results are therefore credible, transparent and accurate when compared to traditional results that could be compiled manually. This also means that there is no burden of work on teachers who can then engage themselves with other activities that will be beneficial to them.
On the other hand, digital learning has Its negative impacts that will as well see the schools and education change their way of operation. One of such challenges is that digital learning encourages laziness and indiscipline among students. With digital learning, students can choose to learn whatever time they want because there is no pressure as compared to physical classes. As much as it helps people with busy schedules like parents and people that work, digital learning encourages laziness among students especially those that always want to be pushed to study. This may eventually lead to poor grades from such students and may damage their future career. It is necessary for teachers to follow up on their students regardless of using digital learning to ensure that they are on the right track if at all they have to keep their dreams alive.
Digital learning can also be very detrimental to the health of students who use the internet all the time. Use of the computer for a longer period for instance might cause such problems as organ damage, electromagnetic radiation and harm to eyesight among others. Computers emit electromagnetic radiations that pollute the environment. These radiations can cause problems ranging from running nose, itchy eyes, neck pains, back pains, gloom, short tempers among others that will cause problems to students. To some extent, these electromagnetic radiations may cause cancer which is a deadly disease. It is therefore advice that students and tutors regulate the amount of time they spend on their computers because the intensity of these radiations is directly proportional to the amount of time one spends on their computers.
Secondly, long use of computers can cause damage to one’s eyesight. Digital learning is based mainly on use of screen. These screens produce signals that are harmful to the eyes and may cause shortsightedness and ciliary spasm problems. Computer vision syndrome is another disease that might come about when one is so much exposed to computer light. The disease causes blurred vision, eye fatigue and ghost images and this may greatly affect the performance of students. Finally, digital learning may end up causing damage to some organs. Due to the position one is forced to sit while operating the computer, some body organs such as the neck, waist, elbow and shoulder might be in risk of getting hurt (R. R. Moreno). Due to all these diseases caused by computers, it is advisable that the schools that have gone digital in use of technology in learning implement strategies that will help avoid their students getting affected by the computers. By so doing, these diseases will be prevented hence allowing the students to enjoy their learning.
Another problem associated with digital learning is that students that use virtual learning are alienated from the real world. Virtual practice can never have the effect of real practice. There are some aspects of learning that can never be obtained through digital learning. Physical interaction of students is very important in education because they get to learn much from each other. Character development is also mainly achieved when students engage directly with their teachers and colleagues. Learning on the internet is only one sided in the sense that students only acquire knowledge but cannot acquire some of the most important skills that are necessary in this life. It will be difficult for these students to adopt to the world problems in real life. The main reason is that in the internet, there is a wide-scale network, high efficiency in collection of information, high speed of transmission and every academic problem or research problem can be obtained at the click of a button. This constrains and limits the thinking capacity of students and separated them from what is in the real world because problems cannot be solved by the click of a button but require critical thinking and patience which the students may lack. This as well creates a lot of problems in their careers because while working one is required to practically use their knowledge to bring solutions to the world something that may turn out to be so hard for the students. Connecting the virtual world to the real world is hard and schools as well as learners should factor in such problems to ensure their students can be of great importance to the society after completing their studies.
With digital learning, face to face Interactive action is reduced. One of the most indispensable parts of learning is contact. It is based on signal system and normally, there should be direct ratio to efficient contact. Digital learning deprives students of face-to-face contact and limits them to many other advantages that come with having face-to-face contact. Communication among students can be impaired when they depend too much on the internet. Absence of body and lack of body language as facial expression and tone may make it difficult to such students to effectively communicate. This also lowers the degree of personal socialization and might end up causing loneliness. As much as teenagers communicate more and create network through the internet, it can never substitute direct interpersonal networking because direct communication is warmer and a bit complicated. E-learning therefore can cause poor direct communications that can destroy relationships and may even cause failure of businesses.
Another disadvantage of digital learning is that it might make some students to lose motivation and feel isolated. Some students can only work best where they are given a clear deadline and can report their progress to the teacher who can then guide them on the way forward. Without this interaction they may feel alone and feel like no one cares so they lose motivation. It eventually ends up affecting their studies and they might never complete their course correctly. Isolation is also something many of the online students face. They may find out that they have no colleagues to discuss certain matters with or certain topics that may be challenging. The internet does not give all the answers one may require especially when it comes to some courses like science and math. This may require the help of a tutor and other students to help each other out. Working on mathematical problems all alone may turn out to be hectic. On the other hand, school creates an environment for students to socialize and make new friends and to learn from others something that the internet does not provide. This therefore makes learning less effective because it is not all about academics, but one should grow in all other aspects of life.
Finally, digital learning does not provide enough feedback to the students. The nature of studies is that one is only able to improve if they clearly know what their flaws are and their weak points. Online instructors may give feedback to students, but it may not be enough as they might not have time to explain every detail compared to if the students met face-to-face with the instructor. Due to this, some students may never lag and may fail to complete the course on time. Students require someone to couch them, direct them, motivate them and when all these are not present, learning might not achieve its objectives.
Digital learning has its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the main advantages focus on the availability and accessibility of the internet and learning materials, lower costs, flexibility and accommodation of people regardless of the region. Many people have truly benefitted from the digital education especially people that are committed somewhere or those that come from regions where there are no schools or colleges. Much has been achieved through online learning and people have achieved their dreams in life. However, online learning is not all perfect. It has its own disadvantages that mainly focus on emotional factors and personal factors, lack of practical activity, has no face-to-face contact among others. While it is beneficial to embrace digital learning, it is necessary to consider the negative effects to achieve the goals of digital learning. At the same time, it is important to note that not all courses can be taught online because some courses require physical presence. Schools and colleges that have embraced e-learning need to physically enroll students in courses that require presence such that students get the knowledge required of them. It is also important to remember that physical interaction with students equips them with other life skills that can never be achieved through the internet. However, it should be known that digital learning has greatly helped students all over the world to attain their dreams. Both physical learning and the digital learning are of great importance in achieving educational goals. People should learn to integrate the two if they should achieve much in their education.
Clark, Ruth C. and Richard E Mayer. " E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning." (2011).
Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. "Moreno, R., & Mayer, R." Educational Psychology Review (2007): pg. 309-326.
Moreno, R., Reislein, M., & Ozogul, G. "Using virtual peers to guide visual attention during learning." Journal of Media Psychology (2010): pg. 52-60.
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