3 Ways to Instill Lifelong Digital Learning Skills in Students

digital learning photo

While focused primarily on building K-12 educational experiences, this brief article from The Tech Edvocate offers three ways “that the education and edtech community can foster this spirit of continued digital learning while children are still in classrooms.”

  1. Teach basic tech literacy.
  2. Cultivate a “learning for learning’s sake” atmosphere.
  3. Offer accelerated learning.

These ideas are hardly radical or new, but I wonder if they may also be applied to adult and nontraditional students.

For example, is part of our responsibility in teaching adults, especially those who did not grow up as digital natives, basic technological literacy? Have we ceded this instructional responsibility to workplaces, or even adult students’ children or grandchildren? If teaching basic technological literacy is part of our responsibility as teachers of adult students, we may ourselves need to embrace technologies in order to learn and teach them. Our own technological literacy becomes a key to successful instruction, especially when the advanced competencies we’re teaching require technologies like video editing software, blogging platforms, podcasting software, or other advance technologies. It may not be enough that we know how to use Microsoft Word and Excel.

As a SLAC (small liberal arts college), the University of Richmond generally values learning for learning’s sake. But our professional degrees, and our professional education programs, may sometimes suffer from a focus on learning for career’s sake. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with such an approach, and career enhancement, development, and advancement are primary reasons SPCS students enroll in degree programs and professional education courses of study. But we should enjoy learning. We should value and treasure and reward aha! moments that student encounter along the way. And we should probably be seeking our own aha! moments as we advance our own learning and experience.

I’m confident many of you have recognized students who have the ability to move ahead, beyond the pace of others in class. Sometimes classes are structured to enable acceleration, but often they try to keep everyone on the same learning pace. Adult students need flexible learning schedules and classroom environments: every student evaluation of SPCS ever includes a majority of students who want more flexible hybrid options. Perhaps we can work toward systemic curriculum revision that embraces accelerated learning opportunities.

CoP Note: I’ve shared my thoughts on these ways to instill digital learning skills in students. My experience suggests SPCS students need instruction in technical literacy, needs reminders that learning is valuable in itself, and often need to move faster than the syllabus or curriculum allows. Have you experienced the same needs, and what recommendations do you have to achieve these — or add ideas that would help instill digital learning skills in adult students?

Daniel Hocutt

Web Manager and Adjunct Professor of English for the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies.