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Top 5 Digital Learning Tools to Try in 2020

4 min read

We live in an era where technology has impacted every aspect of our life including education. From online postgraduate degrees to virtual field trips, teachers and students alike are leveraging innovative developments to facilitate learning and increase productivity.

Here are a few examples of digital solutions that are transforming education for the better.

  1. E-books and digital readers 

Many students are trading their hard-copy textbooks for e-books that are light, portable, and accessible via tablet. Most e-books come with interactive features to help students make notes, highlight content, and search for words and topics in an instant. Some editions are equipped with read aloud features. This allows students to listen to their e-books while driving or doing chores.

Additionally, e-books are embedded with quizzes and self-assessments at the end of every chapter. This ensures the students retain as much information as possible. These exercises also provide instant results, making it easier for students to track their progress and for teachers to provide necessary feedback.

Transitioning to e-books poses a challenge to students who do not have access to tablets and digital readers. Schools need adequate funds to provide a tablet to every student and establish a system for managing damaged, lost, or stolen devices.

Studies show that reading for hours from an LCD screen could also lead to eye problems. It can alter the vision or cause eye irritation, making it harder to focus while reading.

  1. Virtual reality 

Virtual reality transports students to another world and another level of understanding. By wearing a VR headset, students can interact with entire digital landscapes that in reality would be inaccessible or harmful. For example, students can take 360-degree virtual field trips to ancient Rome or join expeditions to Antarctica’s icy terrain. Virtual reality lets learners explore different parts of the world or different eras in history as if they were really there.

With virtual reality, teachers are no longer limited by the space of the classroom. It also greatly appeals to visual learners who like to witness and experience things instead of simply reading about them.

  1. Gamification 

Students learn faster when they’re having fun. The use of gaming in the classroom increases student engagement and captures attention. Modern instructional designers integrate gaming elements including badges, mechanics, points, levels, or leaderboards to activities and exercises. This helps learners easily master a skill or concept, as they apply them to the competition or challenges.

For example, instead of traditional worksheets, students are assigned “quests” that consist of a series of mathematical problems. The entire class can also participate in team-building games like Jeopardy to review concepts before a major exam. In turn, students receive certain points or rewards when they accomplish a challenge. Creating a more fun and engaging learning environment eliminates students’ fear of exams and complex topics.

  1. 3D printing 

3D printing is the process of scanning a digital model using a software called a “slicer” to create a physical three-dimensional object, layer by layer. 3D printers have been used to create any object from car parts to biological prototypes. In the classroom, 3D printing is used to create interactive models of maps, historical artifacts, and molecular replicas. It is also largely used by graphic design and architecture students to make 3D versions of their artworks.

Think of 3D printers as mini manufacturing plant that offers endless possibilities for design and creation. They provide art students with a better understanding of the design process from conception to creation. A highly visual learning environment encourages students to experiment with concepts and expand their creativity.

3D printing opens up infinite learning opportunities by bringing theory to the physical world. Engineering and medical learners, for example, can examine a prototype’s individual features in detail, not just on a screen or in a textbook. It allows teachers to illustrate complex ideas, increase engagement, and create a rewarding learning experience for all.

A 3D printer can also reduce the time and budget teachers spent in creating their own models.

  1. Cloud technology 

The “cloud” is a mix of technological resources including networks, servers, and applications that can be accessed from any device that is connected to the internet. Cloud computing in the classroom allows students and teachers to instantly access, share, and store e-books, audiovisual materials, lesson plans, and test-related materials. It also allows for easier communication between instructors and students through videoconferencing features. Students can also collaborate with classmates on group assignments anytime and anywhere.

To fully adopt cloud technology, schools need to ensure that every student is armed with adequate devices and access to the internet. Hacking and data privacy can also be a concern so schools need to invest in proper cybersecurity systems for maximum protection.

Technology in the classroom allows teachers and students to develop skills essential in the 21st century. Modern learning involves collaborating with others, using different forms of communication, and increasing leadership and productivity. Technology also allows students to gain practical skills they need to be successful in the future.

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