Learning in a Digital World

In today’s world, the focus is on digital learning. This makes sense when you consider that learning in the 21st century is student-centered (Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich & Tondeur, 2014). Three of the most recognized learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Technology is a catalyst that allows the teacher to assist the students in learning from a variety of the recognized learning styles using the curriculum activities in a multi-style fashion (Gilakjani, 2011). Technology has added a new dimension to the learning process. This digital infrastructure not only enhances innovation but it provides a flexible platform upon which the teacher can examine the relevance of the various styles of learning to each individual student. With this in mind, I believe that the critical and non-negotiable aspect of teaching and learning is flexibility.

I believe that education has undergone a metamorphosis as a result of technology. Perhaps it is my background in information technology that makes me value the networked approach to learning. During my years as an undergraduate, I attended a brick-and-mortar university. Online Distance Education (DE) was not an option. If it had not been for DE, I probably would not have been able to obtain my Masters’ degree due to my fluctuating work schedule and the horrific rush hour traffic patterns in my area. Online learning impacts the way I manage my time and my studies. The Internet is the technological backbone for online learning and, the new learning tools such as Learning Management Systems, social learning tools, and the interactive and multimedia tools (Boling et al., 2012). I believe that knowledge is gained through experience. This constructivist mindset has been around for a while since Dewey (1938/1997) and the Progressive party supported the social interaction between the student and the teacher as an effective learning platform, (see video). The social component of connectivism takes place in a virtual environment, which precludes the student from learning via face-to-face interaction as explained by Dr. George Siemens. I believe that a new world deserves new tools. Whether these tools appear in the form of an educational game or a chat session, the key is that the tools should engage the student while promoting learning.

References:
Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2013). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing for 21st century learning. routledge.
Boling, E. C., Hough, M., Krinsky, H., Saleem, H., & Stevens, M. (2012). Cutting the distance in distance education: Perspectives on what promotes positive, online learning experiences. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(2), 118-126.
Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Gilakjani, A. P. (2011). Visual, auditory, kinaesthetic learning styles and their impacts on English language teaching. Journal of Studies in Education, 2(1), 104-113.
Ertmer, P. A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., & Tondeur, J. (2014). Teachers’ beliefs and uses of technology to support 21st-century teaching and learning. International Handbook of Research on Teachers’ Beliefs, 403.

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5 thoughts on “Learning in a Digital World

  1. Renee,
    You made some really interesting comments regarding addressing the learning styles and flexibility. I agree. When you teach your students according to their learning style, they absorb so much more. I encourage my students and nurses to be flexible in all things. In viewing your video (Dewey 1938/1997), it is apparent that we have come a long way today with the traditional learning process. We still have a long way to go in order to capitalize on the teaching and learning resources available at our fingertips.

    Reference
    Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone. Retrieved from

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  2. Renee,
    Good point of view. Due to the presence of enormous information accessible to the learners, especially younger ones, what would be the role of the educators to ensure that learners are spending their time learning what is necessary and appropriate? How do educators increase concentration of learners on one particular subject with this age of internet connected cell phones?

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    1. Hi Jackson,
      I understand your point. I believe that teachers should function as facilitators in the learning process. And as stakeholders in the process, the teacher’s primary focus should be on assisting the younger children with learning what information is needed relative to the lesson plans. I think that parents are also stakeholders in the process of learning and the parents’ role should revolve around teaching what information is appropriate for their child. I believe that creating learning games and converting the games to applications that can be accessed via the smart phones is one way to get the children engaged in the learning process.

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  3. I absolutely agree with your both about distance education. Though I did not use distance education for my BSN or my MSN, without it now, I am not sure that I could have even started this degree. Wu, Guandong & Kruck wrote about online education (2014) and point out that when considering how prevalent it is today, and how fast changing it is, orientation to it must adequate. Best practices must be used and I think what worries me the most about online education is that over the last decade in online nursing education, I have not found a lot of standards for instructors to be held to that are uniform. It feels to me that objective quality measures are not part of evaluations for instructors. At least in my experience, when working for a number of online institutions, what one teacher feels is quality and best practice may be completely different from what another believes is quality instruction and best practice. I have worked five different institutions in a part time capacity and out of those five, exactly one held me to a set of standards that all online teachers were held too in measuring both the successful instructor and the successful student. I am quite sure this is improving, or will be over the years since we must have a way to measure best practice and objective data. I would love to see students be able to choose colleges or even instructors within that college based on based on objective criteria. Wouldn’t it also be interesting to be able to rate instructors the way ebay rates sellers? We could have a star rating for prospective students to see?! Tammy

    Wu, H., Guandong, X., & Kruck, S. E. (2014). Online IS Education for the 21st Century. Journal of Information Systems Education, 25(2), 101-105.

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  4. Renee,
    I have to agree with you, if it wasn’t for on line education, I would not have progressed through the educational levels of nursing and I would not be enrolled in a PhD program today. I also agree that knowledge is enhanced through experiences. Collaboration or interactions with networks as in social interaction supports leaning. Siemens (2005) suggested that connectivism is equivalent to Bandura’s social learning theory as it implies that people learn because of connections.
    Reference:
    Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
    Jackie

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