Digital tools are here to stay. Our generation X and Y are quickly embracing the digital era. Even as we are reading this article, there will be new digital tools being created. It is not only physical tools such tablets, smartphones, but also software applications. In this article, we pay a call to software applications. Software applications can either be bought or free. These applications can be both offline and online. Moreover, the applications are divided to various categories for instance social media tools, learning management system (LMS) tools and curator tools. Indeed, there are various tools to choose from the shelves. Since the teachers are spoilt with myriad of tools which can be used to enhance the teaching and learning experience for the students, they need to be very selective in picking the appropriate digital tool to serve the said purpose.
Like choosing a product from the supermarket shelf, identifying the suitable digital tool for teaching and requires extra work. This is because each digital tool has affordances and limitations. In other words, digital tools are not perfect in nature. But the teacher needs to learn how to work with the limitations while maximizing the affordances to achieve the results.
The other things which cannot be ignored when choosing a digital tool are the content and the type of students. Content, here, refers to the taught topic. The teacher has to figure what digital tool can highlight the topic well. For example, what is the tool best used for teaching history? Would it be a blogging tool or a social media tool such as Twitter? Or could it be a curator tool like Pinterest? Of course, besides the content, it is necessary to look at the learning outcomes which we want the students to achieve at the end of the lesson. It is also crucial to involve the audience or the end users a.k.a the students when deciding upon a digital tool. The age group of the students and their ability in mastering the technology come into the picture. Students in the age group between 13 to 15 years old and the age group of 10 to 11 years old would have different approach in cognitively adapting to technology. At the same time, the students’ ability to master the skill has to be considered. On that account, we need to look at the user interface of the digital tool. Last, but not least, another factor to deal with is time. How much time is allocated to achieve the learning outcome? Is it short term or long term? Yes, time does influence the type of digital tool.
With all these aspects checked-out on the shopping list, the teacher can purchased the digital tool for the taught course.
I’m sure there are more items to list that would be considered before “purchasing” the digital tool. Let me know in the comments and add your thoughts to the discussion!
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