In the 15th century, the Gutenberg press revolutionised learning by mass producing books, enabling the swift dissemination of knowledge. Now, more than 600 years later, technology has brought opportunities for higher education straight to your computer.
What’s significant about the shift to digital in the world of education is that while you’re learning, you’re also developing skills that are useful – and increasingly essential – in the professional world. Whether you study an online Management, Health or Education degree, you’re adapting to the digital paradigm that extends beyond the classroom. It’s an apprenticeship in digital literacy.
Why Do We Need to Adapt?
Since the 1990s, the internet has impacted all areas of our lives in ways we’re still trying to understand. There are now millions of people who don’t know what the world was like before the internet. We now live in a world where digital technology is the international lingua franca.
Digital leaders will be at the forefront of our future. Timeless leadership or ‘soft’ skills will always be necessary, including team building, emotional intelligence and motivational skills. But as our political, social and professional lives have been transformed by technology, we need to develop new skills to interact in the new digital paradigm.
So, exactly how does a digital classroom help you to do this?
Become an Expert Researcher
Also known as the Information Age, Knowledge Economy or Networked Society, the Digital Age is one of ideas and mass information made available by digital technology.
This rapid dissemination of massive volumes of information means that more than ever people can acquire knowledge on-demand. They’re then able to instantly apply it, in contrast to the more traditional gradual development of a bank of knowledge to draw on later. Notions of expertise will be based increasingly on the skilful sourcing of relevant and valuable information from the vast and unstructured pool of the internet, and the successful application of this information, rather than absorbing and retaining knowledge.
With an online education, students become skilful at identifying pertinent information and applying it within the digital context to become this new kind of ‘expert’ in their chosen field.
Build a Digital Toolbox
Daily usage of software and useful apps, of course, means that you can gain experience of the latest digital tools. More than this, it has the power to encourage you to constantly challenge conventional ways of working to optimise productivity and efficiency in your workplace. A questioning nature and desire for innovation is a defining characteristic of many of the world’s best business leaders.
Keeping up to date with the world around you and developments in your field, effective communication with your team, reducing time spent on low-value administrative tasks – all are aspects of professional life that a tried and tested digital toolbox can have a very positive influence on. Students who study online will be exposed to such tools and apps throughout their degree and will enter (or re-enter) the working world with a level of experience more commonly gained on the job.
Widen your Network
Online communication through social media, engaging with posted content and interacting in forums all enable people to come into contact with far wider networks of professionals in their field, including specialists who they may otherwise have had no access to. Well developed interpersonal skills and communication skills are key qualities in a successful leader. Traditionally gained through face-to-face interaction, the internet has empowered people to use social media platforms for professional conversation, networking and shared learning to support this all-important personal development.
Students who have made use of online opportunities for communication and shared learning in their education will be well positioned to continue this development as they progress through their careers after graduation.
Become a Skilful Collaborator
Perhaps one of the most significant differences between those born before 1990 and those born after is the latter group’s enthusiasm for collaboration. Digital technology enhances this skill in the classroom through software built for collaborating, such as the Google suite.
Digital technology also allows for personalised learning in ways that were previously only possible through one-on-one tutoring. With things like instantaneous feedback, the rate of learning can be significantly increased. And because digital technology removes the literal walls of a classroom, students can bring the outside in, solving real-world problems and challenges through immersive and inclusive activities. This collaborative approach is applicable and highly valued in many professional contexts.