"Online learning tools are powerful because they meet students in the digital space, where young learners are often most comfortable. Unlike the traditional classroom model, online learning tools allow each student to engage with their education on an individualized level."
Teaching and learning in the 21st century are in some ways more complex than ever. Massive cultural and technological shifts have taken place over the last two decades, while the way we “do school” in the United States has stayed fundamentally the same. This creates several key pinch points that can become obstacles to student engagement and success. Online learning tools can help teachers and schools eliminate or manage these obstacles to learning and provide students with supports that make education feel more engaging and authentic.
Online learning tools are powerful because they meet students in the digital space, where young learners are often most comfortable. Unlike the traditional classroom model, online learning tools allow each student to engage with their education on an individualized level. This means no more getting lost in the shuffle and no more flying under the radar. For students who have traditionally struggled expressing themselves in the classroom, online learning tools provide a new, less intimidating space to plan, carry out and reflect upon learning.
The best thing about online learning tools is that there is an incredible wealth of them, and each one is designed to address specific student or classroom needs. For example, a Learning Continuum is a specialized online tool that ties learning experiences directly to curriculum standards. This makes the whole learning process more transparent by showing students exactly what the skill and knowledge takeaways are for each project or learning experience and allowing them to track their growth toward proficiency in each standard.
For schools and districts looking to pursue personalized learning, online tools simplify the paradigm shift and empower students and teachers to work together. Learner Profiles, for example, are individualized online spaces that allow each student to discover who they are as a learner and connect with resources that match their learning style. To students, creating a Learner Profile is fun and lively because it feels like a social media page where they can explore and express themselves. However, the Learner Profile is an invaluable resource for teachers and academic support professionals because it contains an array of meaningful data about the student generated by those who know the learner best (the student his- or herself, parents, previous teachers, peers, etc.). This wealth of information about likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, learning preferences and more makes it easier for educators to get to know their students deeply enough to create personalized learning plans and custom learning experiences.
Even for teachers who prefer to maintain a fairly traditional classroom, integrating just a few well-chosen tools can be transformative. For example, an online student Portfolio increases the space for feedback and communication while also providing a consistently curated record of student work and achievement. This empowers teachers to maintain the traditional feedback loop while holding students to a higher level of accountability. Since the Portfolio preserves student work, teacher feedback and assessment information for later access, it streamlines the process of encouraging students to think about past work and learn from their mistakes as well as successes. In this way, a student portfolio can be a useful tool in any classroom.
Of course, these are just a few examples of the many valuable online learning tools out there. Overall, these tools have the powerful potential to bring our classroom model into alignment with our 21st century culture and values. They increase ownership and agency over the process for learners, provide robust support for teachers and leverage the high-engagement nature of technology to drive achievement.
To learn more about a variety of powerful online learning tools, schedule a demo of Epiphany Learning today!