Digital Learning in a Modern World

image source


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.