The global pandemic has catalysed digital learning among leading academic institutions and corporations worldwide. These 6 steps will help bridge the transition to effective digital learning.
The adoption of digital learning has skyrocketed – in part, out of necessity – as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital learning uses Internet-access devices to deliver teaching content and individualised instructions, providing crucial opportunities to learn and work remotely.
From Zoom breakout rooms to accessing resources on Google Classroom, attending virtual lectures to even completing written exams remotely, digital learning has opened up a new realm of possibilities, allowing working professionals and students alike to hone their talents and pick up new skills.
Why is Digital Learning Important?
Driven by the impacts of COVID-19, the value of digital learning has risen exponentially, thanks to sudden school closures and the rise in remote working. More recognised than ever, digital learning provides an incredibly interactive, accessible platform to stay connected, being able to deliver and receive education from anywhere.
For professionals working a full-time job, the rise in digital learning-based resources also means increased flexibility to learn on your own terms in your own time. The development of new tools and technologies means that learning can now be delivered online without any major disruptions, making it one of the most efficient modern-day solutions to stay productive in otherwise chaotic circumstances.
How Effective is Digital Learning?
Digital learning can be highly effective – in fact, retention rates soar by an astonishing 25-60% when you have more control over your own learning. It is worth noting, however, that the weight of your success largely relies on self-motivation, hard work, and accountability.
Digital learning often also distributes informative material more efficiently, providing opportunities for a more interactive and innovative working environment in comparison to traditional methods. The ability to customise learning methods leads to higher productivity amongst learners, reaping the benefits in educational institutions as well as company workplaces.
6 Steps to Effective Digital Learning
Here is our easy-to-follow step guide to make the most out of your digital learning experience!
1. Familiarise yourself and get organised
With new digital learning platforms popping up every too often, familiarise yourself with the platform-specific learning features and tools that will help you accelerate your learning. If there are any external applications that you are required to download, make sure you install them beforehand to prevent any last-minute technical issues. In addition, if you will be tested on the material you’re learning, be sure to thoroughly understand the assessment medium and the criteria by which you will be assessed on early on and prepare accordingly.
2. Access to a stable Internet connection
This one’s a given – but all too important! From webinars to business meetings and client calls, you don’t want to be disconnected by weak WiFi connections or unreliable mobile data. Many cafes, restaurants, and public areas now offer free Internet to keep you online. Alternatively, you can invest in some technological hardware, such as signal boosters, or upgrade your broadband plan to improve Internet speeds in the comfort of your home.
3. Remove potential distractions
We’ve all been there – you fall victim to one innocent notification and ending up procrastinating for hours. To improve your digital learning experience, one way to resist the lure of distractions or social media is to scour the Internet for website-blockers. Alternatively, switch to airplane mode or completely turn off your phone to avoid the incessant checking. You’ll find yourself focusing much better on the material in front of you, creating a much more effective working environment. Looking for more ways to clear your mind? Check out our guide to organising your desk to boost productivity.
4. Review, Simplify and Summarise
Once you’re done with your class or meeting, it’s worthwhile to go over it one more time. Raw notes can often be messy, given that you might have been too immersed in trying to get everything down in the moment. Instead, rephrase and compress the notes you have into concise summaries; this helps you absorb and retain new information much better! You’ll also be reminded of the key takeaways and have more organised notes for easier understanding in the future. Equally, you’ll get a chance to see if there are any concepts you haven’t quite grasped. Flag any questions you have and follow up with your colleagues, peers, or supervisors.
5. Initiate follow-up discussions
By cross-checking notes with colleagues, you effectively review and consolidate your own understanding. After this, follow up with your course supervisor or academic tutor (if needed) to address any burning questions you have left. Remote working can feel lonely and it’s easy to lose the will to focus. Virtual study groups can help combat this, keeping each other accountable and providing social support. By working through novel concepts together, you’ll be able to motivate each other to achieve success.
6. Take breaks
As with all things good or bad, excessive time spent on digital learning can be mentally and physically draining. Set realistic time limits to find a balance between business and leisure – and avoid the eye fatigue, headaches and neck pain that overexerting yourself can cause. Use your designated break times to get a change of scenery from your workspace – perform gentle exercises, indulge in some snacks, or give in to your social media cravings. Having recharged, you’ll be in a much better position to resume working more effectively.
6 Main Disadvantages of E-Learning
1. Heavily Dependent on Individual Motivation
A double-edged sword, digital learning largely relies on practising self-discipline. There’s nobody to stop you from procrastinating or sleeping in – it all comes down to your own ability to stay motivated and manage your time well to ensure you complete assignments within the set deadlines.
2. Increases Social Isolation
Digital-based learning can’t offer human interaction or physical communication. In addition, subtle social cues are often lost in virtual environments, even over video calls. Online learners should be mindful of communicating clearly and be more proactive about reaching out if something is not clear in order to compensate for the shift in medium. Working remotely in the long-term may also lead to feelings of social isolation, which can take an adverse toll on mental health by causing heightened stress and anxiety.
3. Inefficient for Learning Practical Disciplines
Implementing practical projects through an online learning environment is significantly more challenging than theoretical-based subjects or professions. As a result, not all fields can shift online – for example, engineering, nursing and medical practices would struggle in a purely digital environment. Evidently, technology has not yet adapted to accommodate the entire range of professions to be taught through digital learning. In addition, the benefits of these digitally-enabled learning mediums are often concentrated within more affluent demographics who can afford to make such investments.
4. Exacerbates Income Inequalities
While transitioning to digital learning is an adjustment for everyone, it is infinitely harder for low-income families to adapt given the expense of such resources, causing a digital divide. In fact, a study by UNESCO showed that 45% of households still don’t have access to the Internet. As such, while the creation of an entirely digital learning environment is convenient for some, a significant proportion of students and employees also are greatly disadvantaged.
5. Reduced Feedback Opportunities
Digital learning takes away face-to-face feedback, which is usually provided by supervisors, mentors and educators. Traditionally, feedback is delivered in real-time, discussing the standard and quality of content created and areas of potential improvement. In addition, it becomes more difficult to form strong personal relationships of trust and support between peers and mentors via a digital medium, which are invaluable for shaping a positive learning experience. Shifting online, alternative methods need to be adapted to provide effective, valuable, and personalised feedback.
6. Lack of Standardised Accreditation
The current legitimacy of digital learning is significantly undermined by the lack of accredited learning platforms conducting quality control. While less of an issue in the office, the effectiveness and authenticity of online schools are unlikely to be recognised, nor valued as widely as traditional learning methods until standardised accreditation measures are implemented.