Digital Learning

I was asked yesterday what I considered to be the four components of effective digital learning. (Why four? The person who asked me wanted four, there may be more but this is the parameters I was given.)

The question intrigued me. The focus was a little bit to do with tools to use for learning, but also pedagogy was an underlying core.

So I have pared down my four core elements, but I have embedded these in a number of underlying assumptions.

The underlying assumptions are core values and processes that enable Digital learning to flourish. They are:

  • A relevant and contextual curriculum
  • Assessment that is both challenging and transparent (since this lies in a relevant and contextual curriculum, it is also by definition relevant and contextual)
  • An emphasis of higher order thinking skills (analysis and evaluation – creativity is a core aspect of Digital learning)
  • Valuing student voice and providing the students with ownership of their learning and assessment.

My four focuses or core elements of Digital Learning would be:

  • Effective pedagogy – a starting point would be the flipped classroom, but this is just a start. I would also add into here changing the classroom as the layout and design of the classroom predicates the approach and type of teaching you do. Here to I would add in the core values of being challenging, risk taking and inquiring, being principled and caring, being considered and deliberate. Into effective pedagogy we add technology that is enabling and empowering (rather than closed, controlled and restrictive or disempowering)
  • Feedback and reflection – We know the importance of feedback, that when honest, timely, appropriate, and learning focused it has the greatest impact on learning outcomes. We also value the students being reflective, self aware and self critiquing. These are core elements of digital learning (and any other learning to). This aspect is enhanced by the use of e-portfolios and blogging where the student, his or her peers, their teacher, parents and colleagues are able to comment, discuss, critique, reflect and celebrate the learning outcomes and the learning process.
  • Collaboration – a critical motivator for students is working with their peers. We live in a world with out boundaries or border because of the digital environment. Our students collaborate, as do we, actively using a range of tools and technologies. Collaboration is challenging, from effective collaboration you lawn about your self and others, are exposed to different views, perspectives, religions and cultures. By sharing and working with their peers locally or globally the students are learning more than just the curricula elements. I would see tools like wikis, social networks (ning is a great example) and collaborative documents like Google documents as core tools to facilitate and enable this key facet.
  • Creativity – an element of higher order thinking, but a critical focus. We must teach creativity, encourage it, foster it. We teach it by experience and value. Experiencing the many many examples of creativity and valuing them for their practicality or aesthetic worth. By encouraging reflection and self critique, by celebrating success and failure as opportunities to learn and grow. The digital mediums provide our students with a huge tool set that they can use to be creative, to be imaginative, to take risks and experiment, to try and to fail, to try and to succeed. Making these creative tools available is critical.

So when you bring all of this together, the tools, the mind set, the curriculum and the processes, then you can have effective learning. These are not separate elements but intrinsically linked together.  The emphasis is not on the technology, but what the technology allows you to do!

Have I missed something out?

43 thoughts on “Digital Learning

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  3. Brilliant – I like it a lot. I began to wonder, then, what ‘levers’ might overlay the arrows. For example, I could see research based coaching overlaying the arrow to effective padegogy. I can see Alan November’s flip leveraging feedback and reflection. More cloud based collaborative and planning environments for collaboration. Creativity… still thinking.

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  33. Andrew – take away the word “Digital” from “Digital Learning” and you get a pretty good definition of Learning.
    How is this approach specifically digital?

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