Evidence for digital education
Literature review for IT in medical and surgical education
Digital learning is about the use of technology to enhance the students learning experience. It is not merely online learning but the efficient utilisation of high-quality instructional material designed specifically for the varying learning styles of students allowing for on demand ,self-paced, ubiquitous learning environment. The characteristics of Digital learning include the ability to personalise learning material that is flexible. This is led by teachers but with significant support and allows for collaboration and is aligned to a common vision. It has high-quality resource materials and encourages a transparent and ongoing learning environment. (Alliance for excellent education).
Solvie & Kloek, have shown in the paper that technology tools have the ability to address students’ varying learning needs and styles and preferences. In the study they show that as they work within constructivist environment, these technologies tools can be used successfully and integrated to support the students learning. In their study they found that the students believe indicated they believed technology tools were assisting them in the construction of knowledge. They also showed that “preferences for technology are not as indicative of performance as is a match between characteristics of the tool and learning styles.”
From simple technology tools like the use of audience response system, it has been shown that students feel more engaged in learning and experience and enhanced learning process.(Sternberger, 2012) . The Centre for learning and performance technology, in 2012 listed the top 100 tools useful learning by professionals. Some of the tools listed include Twitter, Skype, dropbox, you tube, slideshare, Google drive. The plethora of digital tools for learning poses challenges for the 21st century teacher. It has been shown that the creation of an authentic learning experience with the use of technology enhances learning .(Herrington & Kervin, 2007). According to the authors, the learning environment should:-
1. Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life
2. Provide authentic activities
3. Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes
4. Provide multiple roles and perspectives
5. Support collaborative construction of knowledge
6. Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed
7. Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit
8. Provide coaching by the teacher at critical times, and scaffolding and fading of teacher support
9. Provide for authentic, integrated assessment of learning within the tasks
Herrington and Kervin have shown that technology can be used as a cognitive tool within authentic learning environments rather than just merely disseminator of content and information. These technology tools allow students to be more engaged with tasks and allows for ownership of the knowledge. They provide practical ways in incorporating technology within the learning environment to enhance the learning experience. They argue that the teacher’s role is to align the technology experiences of the student with that of the purpose of the learning.
Student feedback in technology mediated learning has been very positive. Hardaway and Scammell in their paper looked at the student response with the use of technology in a business course. (Hardaway & Scamell, 2005). They showed that students by working with various search engines were able to locate relevant information, and then by using web authoring tools to compose their documents, conducting discussions on the bulletin board, and taking an on-line final exam, the students utilise all the technology features during their learning experience. “By including these technology features in the course, students gained an appreciation for the value of technology within a learning context and the relationship that technology has to the process of learning. “ (Hardaway & Scamell, 2005). They concluded that the challenges of teachers today is the development of courses that are designed to use technology to enhance the learning experience for the student and then use valuable face-to-face time to provide richer environment and productive activities.
Therefore the creation of learning objects becomes crucial in Digital learning. Huang (2005) who notes from the Virtual Labs Project at Stanford University, that current methods for the design of multimedia learning modules are not standardized and lack strong instructional design. (Huang, 2005). The author discusses the phases in the development of a multimedia module , which includes :” (1) understand the learning problem and the users’ needs; (2) design the content to harness the enabling technologies; (3) build multimedia materials with web style standards and human factors principles; (4) user testing; (5) Evaluate and improve design.”(Huang, 2005). Here we therefore see the principles of instructional design being used in the development of digital content to facilitate learning.
Asynchronous tools are useful digital tools to help students to share ideas and exchange cultural perspectives outside the physical boundaries of a classroom.(Walker & Jeurissen, 2003). In this study the authors created a hybrid course in which they added an e-learning discussion and posting of knowledge by the participants in addition to face-to-face learning. They found that the e-learning discussion groups facilitated open and frank discussion which otherwise would not have been possible for certain students within the class who may have been marginalised.
Among the various tools available for digital learning to occur there certain preferences among educational professionals. Among certified educational profession it was found that virtual learning networks, videos sharing and online events scheduling were the most important web 2.0 application while social bookmarks, social networks and music were the least important.(Pritchett, Wohleb, & Pritchett, 2013). They also commented that many educators are not aware of the benefits technology can offer them as professionals in carrying out the implementation of the curriculum in their classrooms.
On-line feedback tools play an important role in Digital education. Results show that students’ prior experiences with traditional feedback guide their perceived preferences regarding online feedback.” Students were aware of many specific challenges that they faced during online research, and expressed a strong desire for technologies that could support identification of valid and relevant online content. Self-reported, online feedback needs were consistent with successful features of digital learning environments that have been shown to support deeper learning”(Ferrara & Butcher, 2012).
As technology, becomes universally excepted in education, this framework to understand and describe the kinds of knowledge required by teachers for effective pedagogical practice resulted in the creation of the term called Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). It therefore embraces the concept of effective technology integration for teaching specific content or subject matter and requires understanding and negotiating the relationships between these three components: Technology, Pedagogy, and Content. This framework then includes the skills of instructional designers, educational technologies and subject matter experts. Teachers are able to connect the use of technology to concepts and skills within their curriculum.(Swan & Hofer, 2011). In this study the authors use podcasting as a technology to deliver content in an economy course. They found that the teachers discovered podcasting added value to the learning experience with student motivation and offering opportunities for meaningful alternative assessment and student expression. They also found that teachers demonstrated strong technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) i.e. but a lack of technological content knowledge (TCK) in the design and implementation of the podcasting projects. (Swan & Hofer, 2011).
If teachers were trained in TPACK , they were found to have enhanced used of technology in the selection and use of learning activities and technologies, becoming more conscious, strategic, and varied; their instructional planning became more student-centred, focusing primarily upon students’ intellectual, rather than affective, engagement; and (c) their quality standards for technology integration were raised, resulting in deliberate decisions for more judicious educational technology use .(Harris & Hofer, 2011)
It is clear from this literature review that digital learning is becoming more and more popular in the research literature and digital tools have been used effectively to deliver learning programs. Generally students find digital tools and the way learning has been designed to deliver content producing a more enriching and engaging experience resulting in a much more positive acceptance of technology in learning. Educators are incorporating more digital tools but must be backed with sound principles of instruction design to ensure that the tools just become enablers of learning.
http://www.all4ed.org/digitallearning/what-is-digital-learning Alliance for excellent education
http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/ centre for learning and performance technology
Camillan Huang. (2004). Designing high-quality interactive multimedia learning modules. Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics, 29, 223–233. doi:10.1016/j.compmedimag.2004.09.017
Ferrara, L. A., & Butcher, K. R. (2012). Exploring Students’ Perceived Needs and Ideas About Feedback in Online Learning Environments: Implications for Digital Design. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology & Learning, 2(2), 48.
Hardaway, D. E., & Scamell, R. W. (2005). Use of a Technology-Mediated Learning Instructional Approach For Teaching an Introduction to Information Technology Course. Journal of Information Systems Education, 16(2), 137–145.
Harris, J. B., & Hofer, M. J. (2011). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) in Action: A Descriptive Study of Secondary Teachers’ Curriculum-Based, Technology-Related Instructional Planning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(3), 211–229.
Herrington, J., & Kervin, L. (2007). Authentic Learning Supported by Technology: Ten suggestions and cases of integration in classrooms. Educational Media International, 44(3), 219–236. doi:10.1080/09523980701491666
Pritchett, C., Wohleb, E., & Pritchett, C. (2013). Educators’ Perceived Importance of Web 2.0 Technology Applications. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 57(2), 33–38. doi:10.1007/s11528-013-0643-3
Reynolds, R., & Caperton, I. (2011). Contrasts in student engagement, meaning-making, dislikes, and challenges in a discovery-based program of game design learning. Educational Technology Research & Development, 59(2), 267–289. doi:10.1007/s11423-011-9191-8
Solvie, P., & Kloek, M. (20070600). Using Technology Tools to Engage Students with Multiple Learning Styles in a Constructivist Learning Environment. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 7(2), 7–27.
Sternberger, C. S. (2012). Interactive Learning Environment: Engaging Students Using Clickers. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33(2), 121–124. doi:10.5480/1536-5026-33.2.121
Swan, K., & Hofer, M. (2011). In Search of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Teachers’ Initial Foray into Podcasting in Economics. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 44(1), 75–98.
Walker, R., & Jeurissen, R. (2003). E-Based Solutions to Support Intercultural Business Ethics Instruction: An Exploratory Approach in Course Design and Delivery. Journal of Business Ethics, 48(1), 113–126.