Imagine a world where students design their own virtual reality field trips, collaborate with peers across the globe, or learn coding through a thrilling video game. That’s the power of digital learning, and Digital Learning Day, celebrated annually on the last Thursday of February, brings this potential into focus. It’s a chance to highlight how technology is reshaping education, making learning more immersive, personalized, and connected.

What is Digital Learning?

Digital learning, also known as e-learning or online learning, has emerged as a vital component of modern education. Its significance becomes even more pronounced when considering its impact on children, individuals with special needs, and those in remote areas.

Digital learning encompasses a broad spectrum of approaches, from fully online courses to blended learning environments that combine traditional classroom instruction with digital tools and resources.

Interesting Facts:

1840s: Sir Isaac Pitman pioneered distance education by offering shorthand lessons through mailed postcards.

1858
: The University of London created External Programme and became the first university offering distance learning degrees.

1911
: The University of Queensland established Department of Correspondence Studies.

1946
: The University of South Africa offered Correspondence Education courses.

1953
: The University of Houston began using television for broadcasting lectures, considered an early form of distance learning.

1960s
: The University of Illinois offered computer-based instruction using the PLATO system, considered a pioneering example of online learning. Douglas Engelbart’s oNLine System (NLS) at Stanford Research Institute demonstrated the potential of computers in enhancing human learning environments.

1984
: The University of Toronto offered the first fully online course, paving the way for modern online learning platforms.

Therefore, while the 1840s concept of sending learning materials by mail started the trend, the University of Toronto’s 1984 course is widely recognized as the first instance of a fully online course in the modern sense.

What makes Digital Learning so unique and essential?

Digital Learning is characterised by several important aspects that make it possible for literally everyone:

Accessibility: breaks down physical barriers, allowing students to access educational resources from anywhere with an internet connection. This accessibility is especially crucial for children in remote or underserved areas who may not have access to traditional educational institutions.

Flexibility: Traditional classroom settings may not cater to the diverse learning needs of every student. Digital learning offers flexibility in pacing and content delivery, enabling personalized learning experiences tailored to individual preferences and abilities.

Inclusivity: For learners with special needs, digital platforms can be customized to accommodate various learning styles, disabilities, and sensory preferences. From screen readers for the visually impaired to interactive simulations for hands-on learners, digital tools make education more inclusive than ever before.

Engagement and Multiple Formats: Interactive multimedia elements, in various formats like text, audio, video, gamified learning activities, and virtual simulations enhance engagement and retention, making learning more enjoyable and effective for students of all ages.

Digital Learning gives you freedom: study from anywhere and when you want
With Digital Learning you are free to choose where, when and what to study next. Photo by Frank Rolando Romero on Unsplash

The Global Reach of Digital Learning

The global adoption of digital learning has been steadily growing, with an estimated 1.6 billion learners now engaging in some form of online education. This remarkable growth reflects a diverse range of learners, from school-aged children to adult professionals seeking to enhance their skills and knowledge at their own pace, staying abreast of industry trends and advancing their careers without the need for traditional classroom-based training.

In developing countries, where traditional educational infrastructure may be lacking, digital or remote learning offers a lifeline for millions of students eager to access quality education. Mobile learning apps, open educational resources (OER), and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have made learning more accessible, empowering individuals to pursue knowledge and skills independently.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the resilience of digital learning as schools and universities worldwide shifted to remote teaching. Digital platforms enabled continuity of education during lockdowns, ensuring that learning could continue uninterrupted despite the closure of physical institutions.

Digital Learning outreach in African countries
Education Delivery Systems in ESA, MENA, and WCA. ESA = Eastern and Southern Africa; MENA = Middle East and North Africa; WCA = Western and Central Africa. Source: UNICEF GLOBAL Tracker; Remote learning during the global school lockdown: multi-country lessons (report)
Digital Learning outreach in Asian countries
Education Delivery Systems in EAP, SA, and ECA. EAP = East Asia and Pacific; ECA = Eastern Europe and Central Asia; SA = South Asia. Source: UNICEF GLOBAL Tracker; Remote learning during the global school lockdown: multi-country lessons (report)

Still, digital learning reveals a stark reality – the digital divide, a gap between those who have access to technology and those who don’t, disproportionally affecting educational opportunities for millions. Addressing the digital divide is a multi-pronged approach that includes governmental initiatives, public-private partnerships and community involvement.

Students potentially not reached by digital learning
Share of students potentially not reached by digital and broadcast remote learning policies, by region (pre-primary to upper secondary). Source: UNICEF

Ways to facilitate Digital Learning with Knowverse

We at Knowverse are on the mission to democratize access to knowledge and make it accessible for everyone. As well as to help teachers and educators to deliver this knowledge in the way which is suitable for learners’ specific needs, requests, and situations.

To achieve our goal, we think about the user-friendly mobile frame design that fits allows learners to access educational content on-the-go, anytime, and anywhere. Mobile compatibility enables smooth learning experience across devices, including smartphones, tables, and laptops.

With accessible design come accessible features. Disabilities and special needs should be addressed if we want our children and learners to succeed with their studies. VARK approach and AI-tutors will help us produce interactive learning experiences, such as quizzes, simulations, and games, making learning engaging and enjoyable. Interactive elements enhance comprehension and retention by encouraging active participation from learners.

Our content aims to be comprehensive (no more boring texts with hardly understandable language!) and fits different interests and learning styles. All together these points are connected in personalized learning paths thanks to algorithms that analyze users’ learning preferences, interests, and proficiency levels, and suggest relevant content and activities tailored to individual’s needs.

Last, but not least, we want to foster collaborative learning that encourages knowledge sharing, critical thinking, and teamwork, enriching the learning experience for all participants. Our community of teachers, parents, learners, NGOs and volunteers will be the place for motivations, social interaction and support for all participants.

Cover photo credits: Photo by stem.T4L on Unsplash