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Navigating Digital Learning Environments


Although integrating digital learning technologies into modern teaching has been at the forefront of educational initiatives for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic forced this integration in unprecedented ways. Due to the potential for ongoing school closures, remote, digital learning may continue to be an integral part of the student experience.

While the broad adoption of educational technologies for remote learning has highlighted the benefits of such technologies, many teachers and students had to make the rapid shift to digital learning without adequate training or experience. It is up to educational leaders with advanced knowledge of digital learning environments to help guide this technology integration and shape the future of education.

What Is Involved in the Digital Learning Environment?

The digital learning environment is not a singular thing. Instead, it is a collection of digital learning resources and tools to improve student learning, instruction and assessment. In an in-school, non-pandemic environment, these tools and resources augment traditional teaching methods, integrated into the classroom to provide new ways to experience and interact with learning.

Digital learning tools can also help students with diverse learning styles better engage with content through their preferred delivery method. This level of engagement enriches and personalizes learning experiences, fostering intrinsic motivation in students.

And, as the pandemic has highlighted, a digital learning environment provides the medium for instruction and student collaboration from remote locations. Also, virtual interactive platforms simulate the social climate inherent to the classroom experience.

What Are Some Examples of Digital Learning Resources and Tools?

Most educators are now familiar with videoconferencing tools like Zoom, allowing remote face-to-face instruction and interaction using digital devices. While such tools are essential to distance learning, holistic digital learning environments integrate various resources and tools to provide a richer, more authentic learning experience.

Simple digital learning resources, like e-books and online materials, provide access to textbooks and other educational materials from a single device while in a remote setting where physical classroom materials or libraries are not available. Even in non-remote settings, using e-books and online materials is cost-effective for schools and can free up valuable classroom space.

These digital materials also incorporate other embedded educational technologies like hyperlinked vocabulary words, concept reviews, infographics and videos, to name a few. Students follow the prompts to reinforce their learning or pursue areas of interest, promoting further engagement, motivation, and depth in education.

More complex tools can further expand learning opportunities in the digital environment. Students and teachers have opportunities to interact, collaborate, socialize, and livestream lectures and classroom discussions via social media platforms and virtual classroom software. Gamification provides personalized learning through educational games, helping students achieve and demonstrate learning outcomes in novel and engaging ways.

An advanced learning management system (LMS), like Google Classroom or Blackboard Classroom, offers the comprehensive integration of multiple digital learning tools and resources. These systems can serve as a central hub for all digital education activities, materials, lessons and interactive platforms, simplifying and streamlining the experience for both teachers and students.

The organizational and analytical capabilities of an LMS can also be beneficial for teachers. These platforms use AI-based adaptive learning technologies to analyze individual student comprehension and retention according to learning outcomes. Lesson planning, including pace and content delivery mode, are adapted iteratively to personalize and maximize student learning.

Prepare for Digital Learning Environments

Lamar University’s online Master of Education (M. Ed.) in Educational Technology Leadership degree offers educators the opportunity to explore digital learning environments in depth. This exploration is particularly relevant today, given the widespread transition to remote, digital learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lamar University’s educational technology program includes graphic design, multimedia production, information technology and desktop publishing. With these technical skills, educators can translate student learning needs, learning outcomes, and digital resources into engaging, personalized course content and instruction. Through integrating educational technologies and innovative approaches to teaching, the modern educational leader can create digital learning environments that better serve students in and out of the classroom.

Learn more about Lamar University’s Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership online program.


Association for Supervision and Curriculum: Understanding by Design Framework

Linways: ICT Enabled Education

Leaderonomics: Types of Digital Learning – Methods & Techniques

Office of Educational Technology: Digital Learning Resources

School News: How to Gamify Your Remote Learning Classroom

Tech & Learning: The Best K-12 Learning Management Systems 2020


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