The world of technology is evolving, and learning is transforming in tandem. Many institutions across the world are now providing numerous opportunities for students and learners to develop their knowledge and skills through digital learning. Some learners are also making use of the internet and related digital tools to self-educate. People are using YouTube, TED Talk, LinkedIn, Blogs and thousands of other digital learning platforms to gain basic and technical skills for personal and professional development. But fundamentally, what is a digital learning tool?
Definition of a Digital Learning Tool
A learning digital tool is generally defined as any program, website or online resource that is used to enhance learning and education. Digital tools make learning and education easier by availing sufficient learning materials and information. They also enable collaboration among students, between students and teachers, and between schools and parents.
Thus, digital learning tools comprise downloadable and readable resources, which can be accessed easily and in plenty supply. They can be accessed at home, school, and or the workplace.
Types of Digital Learning Tools
There are various types of digital learning tools that serve different purposes. Each category is designed to perform a specific function depending on the learning needs and objectives of users.
Digital Learning Tools used to Access Information
Some digital learning tools are used for information access. These are online learning resources, websites, blogs, and videos that carry learning content. Learners use these digital learning tools to understand concepts, develop their skills, and improve their knowledge on key topics.
The digital learning tools also provide easy access to information for personal and professional growth. For instance, YouTube and LinkedIn have videos and articles respectively, which can help learners develop specific skills such as resume writing, accounting skills, web design, and driving skills.
Some digital learning tools also give general information that help people to cope with challenging situations, including how to drive safely and how to treat a disease at home. Such digital training kits enable people to survive in various life situations.
Furthermore, online blogs and libraries offer free access to learning materials. For instance, kcsepdf.co.ke provides free secondary school notes, revision questions, and career guides in Kenya. This helps students get access to learning materials and information to help them acquire relevant knowledge and skills.
Analytic Digital Learning Tools
These are digital learning tools used analyze data. For instance, SPSS and Stata are essential software that can be downloaded online at a small fee and used to analyze statistical data. Researchers and students can analyze their data using these tools or any other online software. If you want to find the relationship between student performance and teacher-student ratio, you can collect the data online using online survey tools such as Survey Monkey and Q Survey. These tools help researchers collect data using surveys from online users. The collected data can then be analyzed by entering the dependent and independent variables on online analytic tools to find the correlation between them. You see how digital learning tools can promote learning and research?
Collaborative Digital Learning Tools
Some digital tools are used to promote collaboration between learners and teachers, such as social media, wikis, Google Drive, Dropbox, SendSpace, skype, Email, and SMS. These platforms enable learners to exchange information and ideas, discuss concepts, and share files and resources. For instance, teachers can send learning materials of large sizes to students through sendspace and dropbox. Students can also write and edit wikis online in a collaborative manner to enhance their learning and development.
Management & Planning Digital Learning Tools
Some digital learning tools may be used by teachers and administrators to create schedules, schemes of work, lesson plans, and meeting plans. Some digital tools are used to create polls and events. They may also be used to plan travelling time, field activities, workshops and conferences. Rather than sending large volumes of memos and letters to students, teachers and parents, an SMS tool can be used to alert all stakeholders about an upcoming meeting or event, share student results, and welcome them to an event. This makes management and planning of school activities easier and efficient, leading to improved learning outcomes.
Challenges in Implementing Digital Learning Tools
Although digital learning tools offer magnificent benefits to a wide range of stakeholders in the education sector, they have their own set of limitations.
Some students and teachers can misuse digital learning tools. Given a chance to use the internet, students and teachers may access pornographic materials and play games that are not related in any way to learning. Rather than collaborating, they may also use the digital learning tools to gossip and extend the traditional staffroom folklores to the digital space.
Lack of funds, infrastructure and technical skills are also affect most schools in Africa, especially in rural areas. Most schools lack electricity and computer hardware due to poverty and poor governance in their countries. This undermines the ability of learners to utilize the digital learning tools to achieve their potential.
If governments can provide basic amenities and funding to schools, teachers and students can be able to access digital learning resources. This could give than an increased opportunity to improve their performance at school and gain valuable skills.