During the 21st century we are becoming increasingly reliant on new technologies to carry out a variety of tasks, from shopping or working to interacting with others. Right from the start, it was clear that new technologies could be used in the education industry, and actually, the integration of these two fields has been faster than anyone could have predicted. We are all familiar with the new generation of learners who are increasingly comfortable using technology for educational purposes (perhaps you are one of those learners?). Here’s an overview of the top technological advances that have had a direct impact in the way we learn.

 

Online learning platforms
In the UK, digital learning platforms like Blackboard and Moodle have been in use at higher education institutions since 2002. These can be accessed anywhere, work on mobile devices, are a gaining popularity at global level and making education available across borders and time zones. Industry experts at Ed Tech Review have claimed that approximately 66 per cent of the world’s learning institutions now offer online learning programmes. Online learning platforms are also used at primary schools. One of the most popular platforms is Discovery Education Espresso, an award-winning digital tool that has been transforming the way content is delivered to students from Early Years to Year 6.

These platforms provide a virtual learning environment whose objective is to enhance the learning experience, encourage learners to become more autonomous, and provide a flexible and customisable platform for both teachers and learners. And since virtually all educational institutions now have access to fibre broadband, implementing a digital learning environment is become a feasible and cost-effective option for many of them.

Apps
Ever thought that some young people seem to have been born with a mobile device glued to their hands? That might not be a bad thing after all. Mobile educational apps tap into the student’s motivation to learn independently and cover a wide range of subjects and skills, including logical thinking, spelling, science, maths, languages, and the arts. These apps are designed to offer feedback, to consolidate knowledge, and to be accessible anytime, anywhere. Examples include Mathspace, Corinth Micro, and Duolingo.

 

Digital games
Nobody said that learning is a game, but it can be. Educators and software developers have recently come together to create more interesting and enjoyable ways of presenting content. The result? A range of digital games that prove that learning can be fun. Researchers at the University of Salford investigated how virtual reality games could be used to teach recursive algorithms (now that’s a subject that definitely needs to be spiced up!). A great example of successful educational games is Savie’s Online Educational Games Central, which is available in English, French, and Spanish and offers dozens of games that can be easily adapted to each classroom’s needs. Other examples include the educational versions of well-known games like Sim City or Minecraft (yes, really).

These technological innovations are not replacing but rather complementing traditional learning methods, making them more effective, flexible, and engaging.