Digital learning can help educational institutions rise to the technology standards of the big corporations. Indeed, classrooms are being transformed because computers and other digital tools are expected. Expected because students want the spontaneity and sparkle offered by a digital world. Expected, too, because institutions are keenly aware of their competitive enrollment environment. And, yes, expected because schools recognize the potential for offering a superior educational product at a lower cost.

It’s a lot to take on. However, there is clear evidence of improved educational performance in these enhanced collaborative environments. This large-scale shift changes the game for educators and students alike.

Tools at our disposal

Over the past few years, the use of smartphones and personally owned laptops in schools has increased exponentially. A media-savvy generation is driving the change, and growing evidence shows that streaming video and multimedia content better engages students in active and collaborative learning.

"With digital learning tools, students now have the chance to participate in cross-cultural exchanges, have visual fieldtrips or access content on demand."

With digital learning tools, students now have the chance to participate in cross-cultural exchanges, have visual fieldtrips or access content on demand. In essence, digital learning breaks barriers—geographic, economic and cultural. It allows for all students to gain access to a world of experiences and to do it on their own timetable.

Building skill

Many schools do not have the resources to provide staff with robust professional development. Studies indicate that learning a new skill takes about twenty instances of practice to attain mastery. This calls for ongoing training rather than the more common one-off workshops. The prospect for mastery is further enhanced because the cloud and collaborative video shifts the balance from pushing papers to actually doing. Hence we see more time on task—curriculum design and teaching.

The new connectivity allows educators to regularly record instructional segments for their own review or from a coach. Providing access to the best coaches and mentors, once a daunting and expensive task, becomes more approachable with interactive digital tools. Professional development, once dreaded by teachers and administrators alike, becomes more effective at a dramatically diminished cost.

Digital solutions are gaining real traction in education. The impact will be immense. The best schools will find that having video and collaborative infrastructure, digital learning techniques, and cloud storage will pay enormous dividends as they go forward. We hope you will join us in this mission by joining and becoming active in USDLA.