Digital teaching aids - opportunities and challenges

08 December 2021


Opportunities and challenges in the use of digital teaching aids

On 11 November, the Digital Learning Hub (DLH) Zurich invited to a networking event on the topic of"digital and analogue knowledge transfer" , to which we contributed with the session on "Opportunities and challenges in the use of digital teaching materials".

The event was held in the format of a bar camp: Accordingly, the sessions were proposed and held by members of the DLH community. The DLH Zurich project, which is supported by the Canton of Zurich, is organised by and for secondary school teachers and pursues the goal of networking teachers and other interested parties in order to expand their didactic and methodological repertoires.

As part of the networking event, we held a session on the topic of opportunities and challenges in the use of digital teaching materials. In this session, we focused on the experiences of the participants: What personal successes did the participants have with regard to the use of digital teaching materials? What challenges did they face? We have written a short summary of the mood of the session for you:

How much does a "digital native" really know about the digital world?

In general, some participants commented that they felt overwhelmed by many digital teaching tools. They often found that learners often struggled to use digital tools. Many teachers reported that the learners, as "digital natives", "knew their stuff" as expected when it came to using social media. However, only a few were familiar with security aspects or trustworthy sources of information in the virtual world. There was a lack of a container in the classroom in which media skills could be specifically promoted. With the constantly advancing digital transformation, a vacuum seems to be developing. While more and more teachers believe themselves to be in this vacuum, many questions remain unanswered: For example, to what extent will future teaching formats change the role of teachers?

The solution par excellence does not yet exist

Technical challenges were also addressed. Both teachers and learners are confronted with a multitude of digital tools, platforms and communication channels. There is still a lack of tested standards - between different schools, but also within schools. Depending on the teacher and the educational content available, there could quickly be several logins and accounts. Dealing with and implementing several tools and platforms for different subjects and content is time-consuming. Accordingly, the ratio between return and benefit is often not right.

Strengthening social competences with targeted action

Despite the many challenges, it was also emphasised that simply transferring analogue media such as books into digital formats such as PDF files hardly exploits the great potential of the digital world. There was agreement that digital teaching aids should only be used where there is a clear added value. The possible applications in the classroom seemed to be manifold: for example, multimedia digital teaching aids are well suited for the consolidation of basic knowledge, the simplified communication of feedback or the simplified correction of competency certificates.

In combination with analogue practices, even social aspects could be better taken into account. Through the digital transfer of basic knowledge, teachers and learners would have more time and capacity to consciously incorporate analogue activities in the classroom: Group activities such as discussions and presentations also strengthen social skills. Furthermore, teachers would have more time to better accompany and support learners individually (keyword: internal differentiation).

Accordingly, many schools have already recognised the opportunities of digital teaching tools and are currently intensively dealing with the implementation of Learning Management Systems (LMS) - but according to the participants, the discussions have only progressed slowly.

So the vacuum does not only present teachers with many unanswered questions - how do you incorporate digitalised teaching and teaching aids in the classroom? And what is happening at your school?


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