Digital Learning in a Modern World

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Digital Learning has impacted the teaching of 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools. 21st Century skills are evolving, and sources, including The Conference Board of Canada (The Conference Board of Canada, 2014) and Tony Wagner (Tedx Talks, 2012) have aligned on a number of essential elements including: communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking, media literacy, and digital fluency. In our discussions, Alisha Hadley, Conor Topley and I found that digital learning has had both positive and negative impacts and we’ve curated a selection below:


Positive Impacts: 

  • Learners have direct access to unique communities that may not be available in traditional education delivery environments (Yotam et al, 2018).
  • Digital learning increases accessibility to learning activities that develop 21st century skills through open educational resources, subject matter experts, flexibility, personalized learning, diverse media, and Universal Design for Learning (IGI Global, 2018,  Chapter 5).
  • Participants are transitioning to modern facilitated teaching versus traditional transmission pedagogy (E.g., from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side”) (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1) including learning models such as Community of Inquiry and Fully Online Learning Community with social-constructivist or connectivist theoretical bases (Blayone et al., 2016).
  • Soft skill development in areas such as those identified in the BC Ministry of Education Core Competencies, including communication, thinking, and personal & social is essential to 21st century learners and can be enhanced by digital learning (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1), particularly critical thinking (Beetham, 2019).


Negative Impacts: 

  • Knowledge gap: “Rapid development in educational technologies means that instructors need new skills and frameworks for assessing the value of different technologies” (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1.7.5).
  • Inconsistent experience due to poor access or lack of resources: “55% of rural Canadians do not have high-speed internet access” (TRU, n.d.) 
  • Uncertain quality assurance standards with Open Source Content (Cormier, 2017).



Bates, T. (2019). Teaching in the Digital Age—Second Edition (2nd Edition). Tony Bates Associates Ltd. 

Beetham, H. (2019). Trouble with critical: reframing critical digital literacies as real-world interventions. [Video]. YouTube.

Blayone, T., van Oostveen, R., Barber, W., DiGiuseppe, M., & Childs, E. (2016). New conceptions for digital technology sandboxes: Developing a Fully Online Learning Communities (FOLC) model. Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology, 665–673.

The Conference Board of Canada (2014).  Employability Skills 2000+ Ottawa ON. Conference Board of Canada. 

Core Competencies. Building Student Success – B.C. Curriculum. (n.d.).

Cormier, D. (2017). Values of open. [Video].

Hod, Y., Bielaczyc, K. & Ben-Zvi, D.(2018). Revisiting learning communities: innovations in theory and practice. Instructional Science, 46, 489–506.

IGI Global. (2018). Ubiquitous inclusive learning in a digital era. (E. Ossiannilsson, Ed.). IGI Global.

TEDx Talks. (2012, May 30). Play, passion, purpose: Tony Wagner at TEDxNYED [Video]. YouTube. 

TRU (n.d.) Digital Detox 5: The Harm was always there. Retrieved from

Unit 3 Reflection

I found the most thought provoking article to be the research done by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, in which they discuss the 3 main factors for success in delivering educational programs: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence (2000). Garrison et al (2000) showed that social presence, or the ability of the learner to identify with others as real people, is critical to not only the development of critical thinking and therefore learning, but also the creation and maintenance of cognitive presence, one of the 3 main factors for success of the educational program itself. Garrison et al (2000) further stated that when using computer conference mediums, the lack of visual cues may contribute to challenges in developing a social presence.

I found this extremely interesting as we continue to increase physical barriers between people. Even in-person interactions have been altered with the development of Covid-19 precautions becoming the norm, we are further reducing our visual cues of each other through facemasks and plexiglass barriers. An online or screen based communication system might prove to be in fact a way we can increase visual cues between learners instead of decrease it.  Can you tell if I’m smiling? Would an emoji be easier to understand?

I find the importance we place on human interaction highly interesting in relation to learning. Emotion, attention, reaction, and physical closeness tend to be common themes when we look at motivation and learning, even critical thought.

I also found interesting the discussions on how we participate in the web and being conscious of how we are contributing. Dave Cormier spoke of moving towards a more pro-social web, increasing the quality of our participation on the web (Stewart, Phipps & Cormier, 2019).  In his discussion about open government in the UK, Lawrie Phipps talks about how open is not the same as inclusion, how the poorest people often have the least access to devices and internet and are being disenfranchised by the increased transparency of their government. He states “…at the same time as putting things online, also putting things in place, but structurally take things away from the most vulnerable in our society” (Stewart, Phipps, & Cormier, 2019, 15:11). I found this to be increasingly relevant today where it’s almost impossible to keep up with the world if you don’t have access to internet.


Garrison, R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in text based environment: Computer conferencing in higher educationThe Internet and Higher Education2(2–3), 87–105.

Stewart, B., Phipps, L., & Cormier, D. (2019, April 10). The Participatory open: Can we build a Pro-Social, Pro-Societal web? [Video]. You Tube.

My Network Map

I used Kumu to draw my network map and started with the four main networks that I am a part of: Professional, Personal, Recreational, and Educational.

Then I started the simple task of drawing connections between these networks and myself. In error I placed the arrow end ending at myself indicating that there was a connection between the element and myself in a one-way fashion. (I had originally thought to place the arrows extending outwards from myself). Once seeing this however, I think this is more accurate. All these networks or elements are shared between many people and would extend further out to other people if we were to place our maps overlapping. I wanted to show what connected these elements to ME, rather than why I was connected to THEM. In other words, how do each of these elements connect to my life or identity, to me specifically.

Within each of the four key elements of my map I extended the map to include key factors in each area. Some are people, some places, and some tools that I use to keep that network active. Some networks such as Facebook have a circular relationship both with personal and recreational as I use it to sustain relationships as well as build new ones. Facebook for example also has a recreational component to it that is self perpetuating.  As far as my professional network is concerned, most of these elements are also connected to my educational networks, as this is where a lot of my professional and educational contacts overlap. My professional networks are also closely linked to my friends. I’m not sure if this is the case for all industries but I have found some of the closest friendships in my networks have been born from working relationships.

I thought my network map would be a bit cleaner, but I’ve noticed there is a lot of overlap between networks themselves, and often I am the reason these networks overlap so much. This had made me see how important my relationships to these networks are and how they sustain one another.