Enhancing an Education Strategy Through Digital LearningPosted by James England on July 29, 2010
With constant changes in the world’s economic landscape, nations are always seeking new ways to develop their citizens and prepare them today for the challenges of tomorrow.
Individual nations have different reasons for this. The drive to move from agriculture to industry and then onto a knowledge led economy. The realisation that existing resources and sources of income aren’t sustainable. Or perhaps it’s just the desire to try and keep a position as a global leader in one field or another.
Whatever the reasons, there is a constant need to prepare future generations – and that’s what we call education.
Education is recognised as the enabler in every nation around the world. To sustain and improve a country must educate its citizens. But education is changing. Literacy and numeracy are no longer the only basic skills; IT literacy is as important as any other skill today. Indeed, perhaps even more important as life becomes more dependent on our use of technology.
So as the world around us changes, so does our mode of education. Embedding learning in other processes we need is a very effective learning mechanism. It’s been successfully used to teach English in Malaysia – by teaching maths and science in English. And it’s used every time a learner uses digital content to explore resources and learn using a computer. Computer skills increase directly alongside subject specific skills. The act of information gathering itself becomes an invaluable learning experience in itself.
But is using digital resources more effective than other educational processes? Digital resources open up so many different ways of learning for users, such as interactive learning objects that cover a specific topic, image and libraries that allow users to browse historical archives, an e-book that’s accessed on a mobile phone and a wealth of tools that enable users to create and share their own content.
It’s the way that today’s consumers expect content to be delivered and why today’s publishers are embracing the digital revolution. It’s about supporting the student who plays computer games and uses FaceBook and who is used to their specific individual needs being catered to. Plus, if the content is managed and tracked, teachers can better understand each learner’s needs better.
So preparing citizens means new, improved curriculum design that embraces the benefits that digital learning provides.
That’s why the United Arab Emirates has an educational policy with Information Technology at its core, with access to computers to all students from kindergarten upwards. There’s an understanding too that self-learning by students familiar with technology forms an integral part of the learning experience.
It’s why Malaysia has actively developed a programme of education using technology because they are aware that a digital divide is bad for the long-term development of a knowledge economy.
And it’s why digital resources, online learning and information technology need to be a core component of any learning strategy development, whether it be an individual’s personalised learning programme or a national educational strategy.