Digital-Age Learning Culture: Rethinking the Traditional Classroom


Right now, we’re on the cusp of an education revolution. As the workplace changes in response to emerging technologies and digital solutions, schools need to prepare students for this evolving job market.

To do so will require a dramatic change in education, shying away from the traditional classroom lecture model and diving headfirst into the digital-age learning culture. In this article, we discuss what the “digital-age learning culture” really means and how it will impact classrooms today and in the future.

What is a digital-age learning culture?

Digital-age learning culture refers to the prioritization of collaboration and communication among teachers and staff to “ensure successful integration of technology for student learning.” As the world becomes more tech-savvy and relies on digital solutions to solve everyday problems, classrooms must provide students with the tech skills modern jobs require. So, teachers, administrative staff, and CTE directors must work together to

  • Create innovative digital learning opportunities
  • Show and promote effective uses of technology
  • Monitor the use of technology in the classroom

In the digital-age learning culture, staff focus on providing students with the technology and resources for learning. Pembroke Publishers refers to it as “instructional innovation,” which urges teachers to think of ways to continuously improve technology-based learning. The ideal educational environment in the digital-age learning culture is a technology-rich classroom that encourages exploration, collaboration, and critical thinking skills in real-world contexts.

Education in the digital age — teaching and learning are now more fluid

Education in the digital age — teaching and learning — requires instructors to rethink the traditional classroom model. While some educators worry the digital-age learning culture will result in the obsolescence of in-person teachers, the opposite is true. Instead, teachers take on a new, more flexible role of classroom facilitator.

Modern students are digital natives and often more familiar with technology than their teachers. However, it’s up to the educators to guide their students and demonstrate how to “access and evaluate knowledge,” according to the 2017 Digital Learning: Education and Skills in the Digital Age report. In other words, teachers need to show students how to

  • Find reliable, trustworthy online sources of information
  • Investigate information and search for the truth
  • Navigate an increasingly complex digital world

In the digital-age learning culture, teachers are more like coaches, encouraging teamwork and providing assessments to help students improve their skills. Teachers are expected to help students help themselves — no longer showing students how to solve problems directly, but instead, demonstrating how to find the resources to figure out the solution on their own.

This shift toward facilitation and “do it yourself” learning matches how training happens in the workplace. Only 10% of all workplace learning is done in a formal, classroom-like setting. On the flip side, 70% of workplace training is completed through self-learning and on-the-job learning, with 20% of training done through peer-to-peer learning (2017 Digital Learning report).

READ MORE: How to celebrate Digital Learning Day in your classroom

What is the future of digital learning?

The future of digital learning is a popular topic, with websites and reports predicting which new, emerging digital tools will transform future classrooms. PBS LearningMedia surveyed 1,544 U.S. preK-12 teachers to get their thoughts on the future of digital learning:

  • 63% want to spend more time learning about and implementing technology in their classroom
  • 78% believe that tablets or electronic readers, as well as mobile devices (71%) and personal computers (69%) will be used in the classroom more often in the next 5-7 years
  • 52% say that their role will include more technology support in the future

While none of these findings are very surprising, they indicate that teachers know technology has a place in the classroom, and digital learning is only going to become more prolific over time.

However, some organizations believe that much bigger changes need to take place in the U.S. educational system to account for the rapidly changing workplace. As automation takes jobs out of the market and the need for skilled, technical workers emerges, many countries are focusing on increasing their vocational institutions and labor market programs. The SAP “Taking Learning Back to School” report urges educational institutions to rethink the skills students really need to be successful in an increasingly technical workplace.

READ MORE: The past, present, and future of digital learning [infographic]

More digital learning articles

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READ MORE: Check out even more digital learning resources, from virtual field trips to free digital tools

Kelly Mantick
About the Author

SolidProfessor academic content writer and amateur hula hooper