Learning may have existed in many forms in the past; however, more recently, it exists in a somewhat different way — digital. This form shows in many ways that innovation is more than a buzzword, which many educators realise now. This new realisation will make them seek better ways to position digital learning and effectively serve students, especially those with little access to the digital platforms.
How is this possible? What does digital learning mean to the overall return on investments? How can your institution leverage this new opportunity? All this and more are in the rest of this article. Share your thoughts at the end of your read.
In this part of the world, when digital technology is put against learning, it seems like an impossible task to succumb to. There are often questions on how it works, what to do to make it work, and whether people are ready for such change. During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital learning went beast mode, providing opportunities for students to gain value and momentum with their careers. Yet, many students were still cut off from this opportunity, especially low-income students and students of colour. Students without internet connectivity could not take advantage of the opportunity, while some who depended on the resources physical schools provided had to find other ways to learn. Even teachers were forced to adopt teaching styles alien to them.
These disruptions resulted in several losses, such that McKinsey estimated that Black students lost ten months and low-income students lost a year of learning because of these low points. These low points do not matter as it hasn’t prevented the world from evolving by the second, making digital education a top priority for delivering value.
Hence, when universities and colleges choose to make a strategic effort in approaching digital learning and investing in the development of high-quality courses and programs, they achieve the following outcomes:
- Deliver improved student learning outcomes
Institutions with top priority on digital learning have high retention and graduation rates for students. Students have the opportunity to pace themselves as they learn, hence, helping them earn their degrees faster and enabling them to enter the workforce more equipped.
2. Create opportunities for disadvantaged students
Digital learning creates multiple opportunities for students across several levels. This means that there is always a space for everyone irrespective of the population — Grant-eligible students, female students, and older students.
3. Improve ROI by reducing operational costs
When we compare the overall cost of running online courses with the average costs of operating a physical institution, the cost is 3% to 50%. This is not to say digital learning is cheap and mediocre, but that digital learning has more opportunities that can be executed with whatever resource is available.
In order to achieve these outcomes, what strategies should be implemented? When you think about strategies, you must think about what could make digital learning profitable. How would it help the low-income communities, especially here in Africa, increase ROI and still create quality programs?
- Create a strategic portfolio for your digital learning process
If you are successful in EdTech, you must create a profile with delivery models suitable for the specific needs of different student groups in the population.
2. Connect with learners and provide the support they need
Students are the lifeblood of any educational platform, digital or not. Hence, if you are interested in fulfilling the cause you created this platform for, you must help them meet the challenges they could experience when learning online. For instance, you could provide a network of remotely accessible support structures adopted for digital learning. You could also make your courses self-paced to allow students to learn at their convenience.
3. Develop the essential expertise and capabilities to design quality digital realm
What makes an online learning platform successful is the model by which the courses and curricula are designed. These courses must be uniquely designed for different scenarios and opportunities. Hence, any institution desiring to create an effective digital platform must be ready to invest in instructional designs, digital tools, capacities, and learning science to birth the quality learners deserve.
4. Commit to digital learning and build the model that will ensure its lasting impact.
Educators must be ready to see digital learning as not “a way out” for quality learning but “the way out.” Hence, educational leaders must derive initiatives that can sustain momentum for their digital learning portfolio.
5. Utilise vendors strategically
A strategic model to imbibe is expanding capacities, advancing innovation, and increasing enrollment through successful collaborations rather than attaining perfection in-house. In simple words, have a team and learn to collaborate with like-minded individuals and corporations; this way, you get the job done faster and better.
6. Never sideline analytics and monitoring.
In the digital world, data is everything. You can not choose a particular move or create an opportunity without access to the data of your students, competitors, and partners. To continue to stay at the top of the game, you must harness vital research and analytical capabilities.
Without a doubt, colleges and universities searching for better ways to increase enrollment and expand their access to quality education must consider solid enterprise implementation of quality digital learning strategies. Hence, from the above-stated methods, it is seen that a successful digital learning platform is never void of a well-planned model valuable for both the students and the institution. Hence, educators must begin to think hard and fast about scaling up with innovation.
The journey of digital learning may seem to have surfaced strongly out of the blues, yet it is impossible not to see its potentiality and effectiveness. Hence, these strategies are set to place educators on their path to make digital learning work.