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Is the Classroom Textbook History?

classroom textbook

Why Education is Going Digital (and for the better)

If you’re old (like me), then you remember the good ol’ days, right? You’d come to class, open your textbook, and start reviewing for that upcoming test with your teacher and classmates.

But boy have times changed. Education is going digital with more and more classrooms utilizing digital content in lieu of traditional print material.

Why? Consider these points:

  • Children today are literally growing up with technology. And since the average six-year-old understands more about digital technology than a 45-year-old (yup, you read that correctly), it makes sense that more and more teachers are digitizing their curriculum to keep up with the times.

  • It’s no surprise that college tuition is expensive. It has risen by 500% since 1985 and has excluded many potential students from universities. On the other hand, though, the cost of technology has actually dropped allowing more people to use the internet.

  • With digital material, teachers and students don’t have to wait for revisions if information in it is out of date. That’s pretty convenient!

  • English can be very tough to learn, especially if it’s someone’s second language. By using audiobooks, ESL students can get help with word pronunciations and meanings to facilitate learning.

  • In the U.S., 46% percent of college students don’t graduate, 30% of students drop out of high school, and 1 student drops out of high school every 26 seconds (Source). What digital education can do is adapt: it can be a one-size-fits all solution for an entire classroom or it can personalize education so that every student can learn at his or her own pace.

  • Think of what teachers can do with data that tells them, for example, exactly how much a student is participating or how well she is performing on assignments. The Northeastern University Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research uses “breadcrumb” data, or learning analytics, to customize individual learning needs for students. This allows instructors to pinpoint knowledge gaps and fine-tune their teaching styles.

The good folks at Getting Smart, a learning design firm, have compiled a comprehensive study of trials documenting the effectiveness of digital learning in the United States. You can check them out here (and you should, because the stats are incredible!)

You can’t deny the potential of digital learning. With big data readily available at instructors’ fingertips, customized learning becomes a possibility and students receive the individual help they need.

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