When choosing digital learning products, you want to avoid the hype, and make sure the dog is firmly wagging the tail. In order to do this, you might consider some of these questions to help you decide what the best fit is for your school, institution or company.
Access to Content
How are most of my learners likely to access digital learning content?
It is highly likely that most of your learners will want to access their digital learning content via their smartphone. In fact, it is almost 100% certain that this is the case. In 2020 a person aged 20 was born in 2000, which means that they were 6 years old when the first iPhone was released. By the age of 11 they probably had a smartphone. We are now in the age of the mobile digital native, where technology is woven into everyday life and learners who are digital natives assume and expect that any content, including learning content, will be delivered on their phones. So, when looking for English language digital learning content, it is important to find products that have been specifically developed and optimised for use on smartphones; a truly optimised product probably runs on a native app rather than a mobile browser.
Appropriacy of Content
What are my learners’ objectives? what do they need to learn?
It may sound like a simple question, but it is important to ask it in the context of choosing English language digital learning products. Perhaps they are General English students but some of them will progress to IELTS preparation, or maybe others require Business English. Whatever it is they are doing, you will need to find digital learning content that can match their needs in the digital environment. There is no point giving IELTS preparation to a student who is starting out at A2 General English. So, make sure that your digital learning content provider has an appropriate range of products that matches the courses you offer in your school. Moreover, you want to make sure your content provider can match the students’ evolution from general English to IELTS or business English, etc. It may also be important to see how much course customisation your digital learning partner can offer. Your students will probably learn more efficiently when the digital syllabus closely matches the face-to-face syllabus; moreover, closely matching digital with face-to-face can empower teachers to foster greater learning outcomes.
Volume of learning
How much time do I expect learners to spend on the digital app?
In terms of time spent on digital learning, a useful mantra, is ‘little and often’. It could be an average of 30 minutes a day over a week, which is around 3 hours per week with a rest day included. Alternatively, you may wish to integrate the digital content into your daily teaching and offer a blended model such as ‘Station Rotation’. In the station rotation blended model a class is split into two groups, one group working on the digital content whilst the other group gets more focused attention with their teacher. This may have an impact on the duration you expect learners to spend on the app.
Next time, we will look at:
- Volume of content, how much is enough?
- Quality of content - how do you know?
- Additional functionality - What is necessary and what is fluff?