In an increasingly digital age, adults aren’t the only ones affected by technology. Digital media has a tremendous impact on young minds — in fact, it’s transforming the education system itself.
Gone are the chalkboards and allergy-inducing erasers of old classrooms. Now the walls are studded with touch-sensitive smartboards. High-tech projectors hang from the ceilings. Students receive personal devices, like a tablet or laptop, to use as part of the curriculum.
Opponents argue digital media is distracting and can worsen classroom performance — but others believe forbidding digital media could hinder the performance of students who learn better with technology. Here’s how digital media has an impact in the classroom — and how it might shape the future of education.
Why Digital Media Matters in the Modern Classroom
Studies show students score higher on tests when they take notes on paper rather than a laptop. Since writing by hand is a slower process, they have more time to consider the material. But digital media can prove beneficial when it comes to learning methods and retention.
While it’s essential to understand the limits of digital media in the classroom, an outright ban could prove detrimental. For students with learning disabilities or required accommodations, for example, a laptop or digital learning program may encourage interaction with material in a personalized way.
Studies show that digital learning materials — such as interactive tutorials, podcasts, videos and simulations — can engage students, increase retention and enhance the learning experience. This method is an effective way to promote student success in all classroom sizes.
Technology is also an ideal way to improve study habits. Apps, online courses and games allow students to work at their own pace. Plus, digital resources eliminate the need to purchase materials like flashcards and highlighters.
How Students React to Digital Technology
Today’s students possess an unprecedented level of technological skill. They use digital media in different ways compared to previous generations. Many call young people digital natives, as they grew up with technology since birth.
When it comes to the digital realm, young people are 100% literate. Staying connected is a vital part of their lives. They use a variety of communication forms and expect teachers to use these technologies in the classroom.
According to one study, students want their teachers to use social media as a classroom tool. Many believe it helps them remain connected with both their peers and their school. It can improve communication, facilitate interactions between classmates, promote social learning and increase collaboration. It can also enhance productive behaviors. Unfortunately, most students feel teachers underutilize it.
Educators who use social media in the classroom should be aware that students want to keep their education separate from their social lives. Today’s young people are wary of digital privacy in academic settings.
A virtual learning environment can enhance a student’s cognitive and explorative nature, a profound educational tool. Online programs can analyze a student’s past performance and identify areas to improve.
Teaching Methods Digital Media Can Serve
Digital media, which challenges both students and educators in collaborative education, can serve a variety of uses in the classroom. Technology allows teachers to connect and interact in ways that are conducive to the course material. Educators can use digital media to their advantage in a number of ways, including:
1. Implementing a Response System
Teachers can encourage students to bring their devices to the classroom, or ask them to participate in interactive polls and quizzes. Educators can use apps to create multiple-choice tests, and students can tap in answers.
The responses are automatically collected and polled. Students and teachers gain real-time feedback on their understanding of the materials. Plus, students aren’t limited to prewritten answers — they can type in their own responses to open-ended questions.
2. Enhancing the Learning Experience
Learning can often be dull. Today’s educators can use technology and digital media to enhance the experience and fully engage students. From e-books and games to virtual tutors and classrooms, there is no shortage of tools to add.
With gamification, for example, teachers can require students to role-play historical or literary figures, appealing to their knowledge and interest in role-playing video games.
3. Automating Tedious Tasks
Educators are no strangers to tedious activities. They read through papers, grade tests, offer feedback and much more. Instead, they can automate these tasks and focus on what matters — the students.
Automation, which uses artificial intelligence, streamlines assignment grading and answers common student questions. It can also customize the learning experience on a student-by-student basis. In the future, AI software might play a more significant role in education.
Embrace the Future Through Digital Media
Love it or hate it, technology in the classroom is here to stay. Many educators have already seen the benefits, from higher engagement to improved retention rates.
By taking advantage of technology and implementing digital media in a positive way, schools can promote better learning for the students of the future.
About the Author
Alyssa Abel is an established blogger with an interest in how education can shape the future. Read more of her work on student life, methodologies and learning on Syllabusy.