Topic 3 Digital learning activities: definition and terms

Digital learning activities (DLA) are those kind of activities which are “facilitated by technology or by instructional practice that makes effective use of technology” (Victoria State Government, 2017: n.p.),

DLA are used both in the educational system both in the labour market.

“The term ‘digital learning’ means any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience and encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practices:

– Interactive learning resource, digital learning content (which may include openly licensed content), software, or simulations, that engage students in academic content;

– Access to online databases and other primary source documents;

– The use of data and information to personalize learning and provide targeted supplementary instruction;

– Online and computer-based assessments;

– Learning environments that allow for rich collaboration and communication, which may include student collaboration with content experts and peers;

– Hybrid or blended learning, which occurs under direct instructor supervision at a school or other location away from home and, at least in part, through online delivery of instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace” (Renton School District: n.p.).

Short history of digital learning activities:

  • 1992: Born of the Educational Technology Leadership Program, developed by Dr. William Lynch. Classes were broadcast via satellite and student communicated through a Bulletin Board system
  • 1996: Bill Robie transitioned the ETL Program to the Internet. He assembled a set of web-based tools and HTML pages that allowed asynchronous communication among students and faculty, the delivery of lectures, drop boxes for assignments, and other features.
  • 2000 to 2008: In 2000 only 8% of students were enrolled in an online course, but thanks to the spread of Internet, by 2008 enrolment had increased to 20%.
  • 2020: In 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic prompted many universities to hastily transition to online learning in lieu of holding classes in person

Sources: 

1) -Kentnor, H. (2015). “Distance education and the evolution of online learning in the United States”.
     -Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue. 17: 21–34. 
2) -https://web.archive.org/web/19970301032852/
     -http://www.gwu.edu/~etl/
3) -https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2012154
4) -https://www.npr.org/2020/03/19/817885991/panic-gogyteaching-online-classes-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

 

How to choose the proper digital learning activity?

How you choose which activity and associated technology to use can depend on a number of factors:

  • The intended learning outcomes for the course
  • The student situation (location, access to internet, number of students in the class, etc)
  • The learning experiences or technical requirements of the course content (eg inclusion of large

graphic files, collaborative tools, live chat features, external guest lecturer access, file sharing,

discussions, etc)

  • The breadth and depth of the teacher’s previous online experience

Some tips:

  • Use technologies that you are comfortable with: Select technologies that you are already using, that are easy use.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with the technology before the lessons start: This allows you to foresee any potential problems, adjust any content or tasks accordingly, and answer any questions promptly that students may have when they start using the technology.
  • Limit the number of technologies used overall in any one class: Using too many online components can be at first overwhelming and frustrating for the students and can distract from the learning experience. Use only what technology is essential for facilitating your online activity effectively.

Source: https://sites.google.com/a/hawaii.edu/new-de-faculty-orientation/step7

As an adult educator you should reflect on:

  • what learning activities do I use?
  • how do I choose learning activities?
  • Do the activities you have chosen suit with your students?
  • Did you notice different reactions among your students depending on the activity you have proposed?

Write down a list of learning activities that you usually choose during teaching

What are your favourite learning activities?

Write them down and then discuss them with your colleagues

If you want to read some example of digital learning activities read the following:

– https://digitallearningday.org/activities-and-ideas/

– https://ditchthattextbook.com/elearning-activities/

– https://www.pinterest.it/Garcampkens/digital-learning-classroom-ideas/

This topic was an introduction to learning activities in a digital environments. Although there are schemes and practical examples, there is not a right way to develop and to implement a digital learning activity. As this topic shown in the previous pages, these activities must be created depending of various factors, first of all the kind of student which you are teaching and the resources you have at your disposal.