Traditional Classroom Learning has always been a one-way street. A professor teaches, while students may or may not imbibe the teachings. The only way to measure the extent of learning is through mid-term tests. While the questions raised by students during class could hint on the amount of student participation. Up to a decade and a half back, this was the only way to teach/learn. Although it worked wonders in its era, times have changed rapidly since the world embraced Information Technology. Today an average 4-yr old knows how to operate as complex a system as an iPhone, though in a limited capacity. But it won’t be wrong to generalize that the prevalent fear of technology has been replaced by a need to satiate one’s thirst for information. Information and Knowledge are two varied subjects!
With the world getting back on its feet post-2008 crisis, the use of technology in the field of education had already started to take shape. Colleges had started experimenting with tools like Blackboard to reach out to their students. Paperbacks were replaced by eBooks, assignments were posted online, and information flow was swift. ‘Digital Classrooms’ as they termed it, became a regular feature in educational institutions. To put it simply, Digital Classrooms are a medium of computer-enabled transfer of skills. The applications used in such classrooms can be web-based, via digital collaborations or operate through virtual learning. As with any use of technology, prior awareness&training is essential not only among the Professors but also with the students. Adequate infrastructure is developed and content created according to these needs. As the students graduated, they took these experiences into their workplaces. In recent years technology improvement, focus on specialized training segments and stiff competition has ensured Educational Institutions emphasized on alternative low-cost methods of delivering education.
Digital Classrooms are not only enablers of something as simple as ‘Ctrl+F’ a specific topic but also to resolving complex real-life problems by way of manipulating parameters to produce varied solutions.
Additionally, Digital Classrooms have breathed new life into Distance Learning and Online Education. In such a set-up almost, anybody can log in as a student. Contrast this with the legacy classroom learning that required every actor to be physically present. The major shift comes in the form of making the student – center of this learning experience. Digital Learning can follow either of the two options: Every student is present in person or connects online while the professor delivers the lecture using the different tools. OR, Students can log-in at a time of their convenience to listen to pre-recorded lectures.
In recent years technology improvement, focus on specialized training segments and stiff competition has ensured Educational Institutions emphasized on alternative low-cost methods of delivering education.
DLOs or Digital Learning Objects are discrete tools used to enable digital learning. As these are reusable, they have caught the attention of the Education sector. DLOs are seamless learning platforms that allow students from across the geography to log in at their convenience, give them time to learn at their own pace, formulate questions without the added pressure of continuous learnings. As the courses are conducted Online, any number of students can enroll to these programmes. Costs per student has gone down dramatically, making education affordable. But the most important benefit of a DLO is that everything gets archived for future reference. Back in my college days, we would record Lectures(in mp3 format) on our Nokia 3210. Later, we would listen to the lecture for any missed pointers and to revise. Thanks to DLOs, students today can go back and revise entire modules, questions, even the individual correspondences with the professors and fellow students. Thus, information is at one’s fingertips, literally speaking. In short, everything that can be measured gets measured and archived.
As for professors, it is the first time that they get to assess their own work. They are not only dispensers of knowledge but also get to master their managerial skills, to take up the challenge of keeping abreast with new technologies. With the stress on Content Management heating up, dis-aggregating content into various modules is helping students save time by skipping the familiar topics.
However, there are a few disadvantages to Digital Classrooms as well. In an Online set-up, the success of the module is solely dependent on the student-initiative and their ability to lock out distractions. Under such a set-up it is impossible for the professor to know the real-time results of their work. And of course, there is always that difference between a real classroom and a virtual one. As has been seen by the slow growth, how many of the ‘actual’ attendees finish a module or get a certificate? The numbers are still low. Though it is great that students can learn at their pace, but would it challenge them out of their comfort zones?
Having considered all aspects, in this fast-paced, information-starved world, time-saving and ease of access could essentially be the biggest advantages Digital Classrooms provide to Modern-age Education.