Making Digital Tools Work in Training
Technology has transformed life as we know it, and the training and classroom look much different than it did 50 or even 10 years ago. Traditional chalkboards have been replaced with digital whiteboards, and classrooms have a surplus of iPads.
According to the Pew Research Center, 92 per cent of trainers and teachers said that the internet has a major impact on their ability to access content, resources, and materials. What are some of the ways educational technology can and has helped to improve the classroom and the learning experience?
Benefit 1: Creates a More Engaged Environment
Rather than thinking that technology is a distraction, when used strategically, it can help encourage active increased engagement and participation levels within the learning environment. Using devices like a computer, tablet, or other technology can help turn traditionally dull subjects into interactive and fun activities – the key is NOT to plan, design and teach in the same way when using digital learning tools.
Benefit 2: Incorporates Different Learning Styles
Technology now means it is possible to meet learners preferred learning styles by designing more flexible, engaging forms of training, learning activities and knowledge inputs. Teacher/trainers can now develop more individualised learning plan to better meet the needs of different learners.
Digital tools means that it is possible to modify and adapt learning materials quickly and simply. Learners who are more visual can benefit from learning content in the form of videos, audio recordings and podcasts, infographics, and simulation. Teacher/trainers no longer need to be confined to traditional testing and assignment-based methods of assessment – digital tools have opened the range and flexibility of learning and assessment methodologies.
Benefit 3: Improved Collaboration
Rather than individual or whole class learning, technology enhanced learning provides the opportunity to implement remote, off-and-on-line, self-paced learning, interactive and group-based learning and many more forms of learning. TEL approaches also enable learners to share and help each other with both the technology aspects of using TEL but also the learning content.
Benefit 4: Prepares Learners for the Future
According to a CompTIA study, nine out of 10 learners have reported that using technology has and does help prepare them for the digital future. By teaching and training learners skills such as PowerPoint, TEAM, ZOOM, shared platforms and how to use various technologies helps to prepare learners for the world of work.
Benefit 5: Connects Trainers with Learners
Technology can help teachers and trainers to form a better relationship with learners and their colleagues. For example, 84% of teachers report using the internet at least weekly to find content that will engage learners. Integrating technology into lesson plans as well as using it to expand their own subject knowledge can and does make a significant difference in the relevance, currency, and validity of learning content.
Technology will undoubtedly continue to evolve, and it is important that vocational education centres, teachers and trainers adapt their style to align with its advancements. Perhaps three of the main challenges facing VET providers are:
- Selecting which digital learning tools to use
- Engaging VET teachers and trainers in wanting to explore and use digital tools
- Ensuring that there are sound reasons for selecting to use a digital tool rather than using it for the sake of it.
Below are links to selection of the most commonly used digital learning tools in use currently:
- Blackboard: is a popular course management system within the academic education sector.
- Presentation Software: It can often be helpful to provide visual aids to complement teaching and training, stimulate discussion, or allow out-of-class teaching. Tools designed for this purpose, such as PowerPoint, can be used well or used badly. Click herefor resources that provide advice for thoughtful use of PowerPoint, as well as a few additional presentation tools.
- Classroom Response Systems: One way to encourage learner engagement is to use electronic devices that allow learners to record their answers to multiple choice questions which are instantly displayed for the whole class to see. The anonymity encourages participation, and their answers help the teacher know when further discussion is needed. Use of ‘clickers’ can also serve as a catalyst for discussion.
- Online Projects and Collaboration Tools: Technology can support learner collaboration on creating new knowledge, reflecting on what they are learning, or working together to achieve a deeper understanding of course material.
- Information Visualisation Tools: Technology can also clarify and stimulate thought through transforming words into pictures. Hereare some tools which can be used to help learners to think more critically by encouraging them to visually structure information.
- Flipping the Classroom: One way of introducing variety and to empower learners is to move learning out of the classroom by flipping the learning process. Learning is conducted outside of the classroom enabling the use in-person time for interactions that require applying, synthesizing, and creating. These resourcesexplain the theory underlying this teaching method and provide practical suggestions for making it work.
- Podcasts: Whether for a flipped class or just as a resource for learners, podcasts are a simple, but effective way of sharing lots of knowledge and points of view with learners.
Exponential Training is committed to using digital learning technology to improve the accessibility, effectiveness, and quality of its learning programmes. Currently, the Exponential Training team is working on several Erasmus+ projects using Technology Enhanced Learning such as E-Growth and PRONTO or email email@example.com.
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