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Digital learning: 7 key challenges and their solutions

Education continues to enter uncharted territory when it comes to the rapid deployment of digital learning solutions. School districts must align their educational technology solutions with the needs of students, while teachers must re-evaluate what it means to deliver a learning experience.

This has created a new host of challenges for educators as they try to navigate the complex world of virtual learning. As we all transition to digital learning, it’s important to pay attention to the pain points of everyone involved. 

Today, we’re going to highlight some of the digital learning challenges that school districts face, as well as simple solutions.

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How Effective Is Digital Learning For Students?

There are a lot of variables when it comes to digital learning. Online school goes beyond a Zoom call. When done well, digital learning can be effective for both the student and teacher. 

Students can learn at their own pace and take advantage of both the classroom setting and individual learning. It’s a great opportunity to learn time management. With the growing use of technology in everyday life, students must learn multiple technological applications that go beyond a basic computer class.

But giving students and teachers access to a computer application doesn’t guarantee success. You have to include intentionality. Without you, you face challenges. 

Let’s discuss the seven key challenges to digital learning and their solutions.

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1. Employees Feel Overwhelmed

It’s not uncommon for teachers to struggle to adapt to new digital solutions. Learning new digital platforms, where to find documents, or who to ask for help all contribute to decreasing student participation and can even confuse them. All of this creates an overwhelmed employee and can diminish the learning experience.

The Solution

One of the easiest ways to provide the proper support to overwhelmed employees is to create change champions within your school. Find team members who have a solid track record of adopting new technology and put them in a position to help those who are struggling.

Turn your tech-savvy early adopters into authoritative voices that promote adoption and provide support. This directly solves the problem of teachers feeling overwhelmed and even contributes to creating a sense of community.

2. Teachers Using Non-Supported Apps

Not all technology is created equally, and in many cases, your teachers may prefer to use solutions not authorized by your district. This presents a significant challenge as it may fragment your user base and encourage staff to use unauthorized apps, resulting in a headache for your IT team, who now faces a tangled technological ecosystem. 

The Solution

Provide teachers and students with a unified experience that’s based on standardized technological solutions and combined with effective training. Additionally, provide a robust content library teachers can contribute to and grow together. Always provide a way for teachers and students to provide feedback.

3. Devices Fail Too Often

A common mistake that school districts make is maintaining a fleet of devices that vary in age, make, and model to save money. However, device failure happens more often as these devices age. Since remote and digital learning relies on devices, device failure is becoming a significant pain point for teachers.

The Solution

School districts should strive to accommodate digital learning by creating a steady and reliable refresh cycle for all devices. Replace old technology with new standardized devices so districts will be in a position to maximize productivity and reduce the expense of repairs and maintenance.

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4. Self-Discipline 

Students often struggle with self-discipline, and online schooling can make it more challenging. Students who have procrastination difficulties can find themselves having trouble sitting down and doing the work without someone telling them to do so. With digital learning, it can be easy to ignore an assignment or even an entire class since attendance usually isn’t enforced.

Life also becomes complicated if there’s no clear separation between home life and school. The two often overlap, unlike in-person schooling, where school and home life have clearer boundaries. 

The Solution:

Provide tools for your students to aid with procrastination. Provide a detailed syllabus to the students (and parents if necessary), so they know what to expect from the class and check off work as they complete it. Calendars with set reminders of when tasks and assignments are due to help communicate due dates.

5. Lack of Communication

A big challenge to digital learning is missing interaction with teachers. Many students have difficulty communicating and engaging with their teachers via digital learning. It’s challenging to keep students focused when a teacher isn’t present. Likewise, classes that typically require a physical presence, like the sciences, make it difficult to grasp their concepts. 

Social interaction with peers also poses a problem. Students don’t make friends as quickly and can’t work together on projects in person. Students can’t experience the classroom energy, like lively discussions, class humor, and group work.

The Solution:

You may not copy the classroom experience, but you certainly emulate it. Encourage students to speak up and introduce themselves during class time. Create an online group where students can interact and discuss non-school-related subjects. 

Hold forums where students can have intellectual discussions and offer their opinions. Be sure to set ground rules, so discussions don’t get out of hand. Encourage students to work together on projects to re-create the social interaction they would get in a standard classroom setting. Writing software like Google docs allows multiple people to work on assignments.

6. Adapting Online Classes For Deaf Learners

Unfortunately, deaf learners are twice as likely to fall behind in school than the average student. Deaf learners faced a significant setback in education when they lost access to their interpreters. Online classes can be difficult to keep track of and interpret since technology can lag. But we can make online learning accessible for deaf students.

The Solution:

Provide a class script for the student to follow along. You might already have a script ready to go to keep class on track. Make copies and give this to your deaf learners. Turn on subtitles so students can read what you are saying. This is a great option for all students when video lags. 

Transcription is another option. Paying someone to transcribe the lesson will allow students with difficulty hearing to catch up on anything they may have missed.

7. Students Simply Aren’t Engaged

Learning involves building a relationship between the educator and students. Moving to digital learning has meant that teachers need to develop new ways to engage students. However, keeping students excited and motivated has become significantly more significant. 

It’s easy for students to become distracted when learning online, making it difficult for teachers to maintain control. How can teachers keep students engaged and absorbing new material?

The Solution

There are few ways that teachers can make use of digital learning to keep students engaged:

  • Personalize your course plan: Since face-to-face contact is minimal, it’s more important than ever to create a personalized plan that captures the attention of students. This can mean a variety of things, such as allowing students to mark up digital readings or creating a robust reporting system.
  • Create a consistent schedule: When students are in the classroom, it’s easy to stick to a specific schedule. That same structure needs to continue in the digital learning environment. Keep students on a structured program to keep them engaged.
  • Track student engagement: There are a few new ways that teachers can track student engagement, such as when they log in to systems and how they participate within them. Teachers should track how engaged students are over time.

Be Ready for New Challenges

New challenges will certainly arise, but your district can be ready by embracing the right digital learning solutions. Thoroughly research any platform to make sure it meets your needs, and you should notice fewer pain points. Keep addressing any pain points that do occur, and your schools will be poised for success.

Are you interested in learning more about how to achieve success in digital education? Download our guide to digital education today to learn more.

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