5 Ideas to Bring Digital Learning into Your Classroom
Digital learning is gradually replacing traditional teaching methods - a change we have to embrace. The Internet and high-tech devices like smartphones are just some of the tools we use to broaden our knowledge and understanding of the world. But using technology in the learning environment takes more than just knowing how to use these tools.
The problem is that many teachers (especially those who have been teaching for over two decades) still prefer to use traditional teaching methods instead of incorporating technology into their lessons. Others still don't know how to properly integrate digital learning into the classroom setting, while others are struggling to keep up with these new must-have tools.
But teachers can no longer ignore the fact that technology is essential for today's tech-savvy learners. The Common Core State Standards now require digital learning in classrooms, and scientific research supports it. It only makes sense to include it in a teacher's curriculum.
Below are some ideas on how to introduce digital learning into your classroom, all of which are proven to help boost student motivation:
Challenge Your Students with WebQuests
WebQuests may be old, but they're still gold, especially when applied in the classroom setting. They're still known to get students engaged in lessons and help fulfill high-order thinking skills.
You can get your students to search for specific information on the Internet, or assign a long-standing project that must be completed in several weeks. One example of a WebQuest is by asking your students to serve as museum curators, where they have to search online for artifacts. They then have to determine whether these artifacts belong in their museum, and then explain their choices in front of the class.
There are thousands of pre-made WebQuests out there and they're a fun way for you to start integrating digital learning into your curriculum. You can even create your own!
Use Videos for Your Lessons
Boost your lessons by using videos as overviews or skill reviews for some topics.
There are lots of online platforms that cater to educational videos for teachers, some of which are created by teachers themselves. TeacherTube, for instance, is a great place to find video lessons that cover core school subjects. You can search for specific topics and browse different categories to quickly find relevant videos. It's like an academic version of YouTube!
Using online videos is one of the easiest, most common ways to bring digital learning into class. Not only does it add a multimedia element to your lesson, it works well with visual learners. Various studies have shown that using animated videos have positive effects on a child's development, particularly in competence areas like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and memory.
Use Technology as a Topic for a Paper Assignment
For the younger students, you can challenge them to write an essay about the pros and cons of using digital learning in the classroom, or a "how-to" piece on the use of technology in the learning environment. It's a natural fit for millennials who have a high comfort level on this particular topic.
For example, you can ask them to write a "how-to" piece on instructing an elderly (maybe a grandparent) on how to send e-mails, write a blog, or download an app on their smartphone. For the older kids, you can assign a topic and have them research the impact of technology on the way they learn.
If your students are struggling and need a bit of guidance on how to properly write an essay, you can also refer them to online writing help services. However, don't forget to remind them NEVER to commit plagiarism!
Have Your Students Listen to Podcasts
There are literally hundreds of thousands of podcasts available online. For teachers, it's easy to find education-related podcasts that meet your students' needs. Some schools even offer lessons via podcast, which is a great digital learning method for advanced students.
There are various podcasts that feature interviews with authors of books your students may be reading, as well as some really useful supplemental materials. You can download them and play it for your students in class. Or, you can take it up a notch and get your students to create their own podcast, like documenting their academic progress or discussing their thoughts and ideas on various issues pertaining to a subject or course.
Provide Opportunities for Global Digital Learning
For the more ambitious, find ways to connect your students with other kids their age. Websites like The Global Classroom Project, for example, is an online hub where students from around the world can virtually connect, learn, and share lessons and ideas. It's also a great way for them to hear, see, and speak with other students about what they're learning at school.
Over to You - Final Words
The truth about digital learning is that it's less about the tools and skill set, and more about the mindset. As a teacher, your role in the digital age is to be a lead learner.
Incorporating digital learning in the classroom allows you to prepare your students to live in a tech-savvy world. By implementing the ideas mentioned above, you're contributing to your students' ability to thrive in the 21st century, where they'll become more efficient and proficient in society.
About the writer: Carol Duke is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on education-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling, taking immense pleasure from visiting new countries.