The perception of digital learning has changed drastically in recent years, and rightly so. In her “Digital vs Traditional Learning” article of October 2018, Avantika Monnappa noted:

“There was a time when online courses were considered inferior to traditional degrees. Employers rarely accepted online degrees as equivalent to a degree from a reputed brick-and-mortar university. But in today’s tech-driven world and the time constraints professionals operate under, online learning is taking the front seat.”

She’s not wrong. Digital learning has come a long way from its tentative one-size-fits-all beginnings.

We now have courses containing adaptive microlearning, engaging gamification, predictive analytics, and adaptive algorithms personalising learning to each individual’s specific needs. This is all fantastic stuff. Real, genuine, bona fide progress. It leads to another intriguing question though, are we being too hasty in consigning all the elements of old-school classroom learning to the annals of history?

In his recent article ‘The Power of Collaborative Learning: More Important Than Ever’ Josh Bersin states that:

“Why do you think we have homework assignments and work in groups in school? Why do teachers give lectures and then ask students questions to discuss in a group? It is a well-known fact that collaborative, cohort-based learning is the most valuable, useful, and memorable way to learn.”

Now, this is where things get interesting. Maybe, in today’s breakneck-paced sprint to find the digital learning utopia of tomorrow, we’re abandoning crucial aspects of the learning gold mine of yesteryear?

Perhaps, the real key to progress in the culture of learning is an amalgamation. A composite. A fusion of new and old. In this merger, the learner could benefit from everything that the digital learning-zone has to offer, the stimulating customised learning paths that have become such a deserving stalwart of 21st century education…..but with that alone not being the complete and unmitigated learning experience.

What if our learner was also indulged into collaborative learning? Discussing the subjects covered with fellow-learners, designed group-based learning, questions from human teachers – studies show that all the aforementioned techniques aid memory retention through the learning process. As Josh Bersin says:

“Actually conceptualizing, recalling, and using information is what creates the “memory pathways” that stick in your mind.”

So, where does all this leave us? Only time will tell if the new learning paradigm is 60% digital and 40% classroom – but, what can’t be disputed, is that there is a plethora of evidence pointing in the direction that it should be.