5 Digital Learning Resources for Higher Education

There's no one-size-fits-all solution for learning — but there are tools that can help. Take a look at these must-have digital learning resources!

While the pandemic changed how educators and institutions think about learning, online learning programs have long been a flexible and necessary option for many students. Yet as the pandemic subsides, these digital programs are still on the rise, especially programs that emphasize core competencies over time-and-place-based learning.

However, there can still be a gap in how effectively digital and in-person students learn. Educators and institutions can help accommodate students by adopting digital-first strategies, but it can be challenging to gauge effectiveness without the proper tools to facilitate those strategies. Luckily, a plethora of digital learning resources and platforms exist to help educators and students alike in and out of class.

Come with us as we explore some must-have digital learning resources and tools!

The Advantages of Digital Learning

Digital learning programs can help institutions meet the needs of students who need a flexible option for learning. Not all students have the ability to attend classes in-person and on-campus five days a week. 

Many adult learners may have professional or personal obligations, while some students may be unable to commute to attend class — sometimes due to financial constraints. This makes the digital classroom an equitable solution for learning, ensuring all students have the opportunity to take the classes and courses they need for their degree regardless of time or place.

However, simply offering education programs in an online setting isn’t enough. To ensure that these digital learners succeed, educators and institutions must meet the needs of these students just as they would for in-person classes. Taking advantage of technology can make it much easier for educators to ensure all students succeed – and complete their degrees.

5 Must-Have Digital Learning Resources

1. Open Education Resources (OER)

Great For: Quick distribution of tailored materials.

Open educational resources (OER) are a must-have for educators. These free resources are excellent supplemental materials for courses. And since many are free to be adapted and changed, educators can create their own resources to fit their lesson plans and share them without issue.

There are many OER providers, providing everything from interactive activities and modules to data sets and entire lectures. OER materials are easy to distribute, change or update much faster than traditional materials. And because they’re free, students don’t need to worry about the extra cost as they would with purchasing textbooks — some of which can cost up to $400.

OER is an excellent solution for curating and quickly distributing tailored materials. Students will have quick access to all of the resources they need without worrying about the cost. 

2. Interactive Digital Textbooks

Great For: Fostering more engagement with ideas and concepts.

Interactivity can be highly effective for ensuring students absorb and understand new concepts and ideas in lessons. While this may sound obvious, a study from Carnegie Mellon found that college students thought they learned more in a traditional lecture when the opposite was true.

Active learning encourages engagement, which produces better academic outcomes and results. One way to accomplish this is by reinforcing lessons and concepts with interactive online textbooks.

In-chapter quizzes, discussion boards, and other features that require input from the student can keep them engaged with the content and actively learning. On top of that, analyzing metrics from interactive quizzes can show educators which students may be struggling or need extra attention.

3. Inclusive Video Calls

Great For: Supporting neurodiverse and neurodivergent students.

Even though the shift to digital in the wake of the pandemic was abrupt for many, online learning and online classrooms appear to be here to stay. Remote learning can be inclusive for nontraditional learners, especially those who need flexible accommodations for their education.

To support many of these learners, it’s necessary to have the right digital tools and strategies for using them. The term “Zoom Fatigue,” coined during the pandemic's peak, refers to the feeling of anxiety or stress associated with video meetings. But these feelings can apply to students as well.

The solution for many of these issues can rely on instructors being more accommodating to neurodiversity. Another option is to use platforms with features like screen readers and closed captioning. But educators themselves can be more accomodating by using a few different tactics in live video lessons:

  • Provide closed-captioning or transcripts of videos
  • Allow for “camera-free” days so students can turn off their cameras
  • Use a facilitator to read incoming questions from students in chat sidebars
  • Provide warning when switching cameras on or off
  • Provide a catalog of recorded video lessons

Being mindful of neurodiversity and neurodivergence in and out of the digital classroom isn’t just helping students and their academic success. It can help educators also understand how to provide more inclusivity in teaching.

4. Multilingual or ELL Support

Great For: Supporting ELL students, especially in remote environments.

Enrollment for students that speak English as a second language (ESL), or English Language Learners (ELL), is on the rise in education. In the world of K-12, it’s estimated that by 2025, roughly 25% of children will be ELLs. And since many larger universities attract international students, supporting ELL learners is still a very present need.

Digital learning can be challenging for ELL students, but there are tools educators can use to make things easier. Video transcripts can help ELLs, as can a high-quality video camera for recording lectures. Illustrating concepts with a whiteboard can help reinforce concepts and ideas while encouraging collaboration and offers students the opportunity to help their peers while engaging with the lesson. Educators can prevent students from falling through the cracks by taking a holistic approach to ELL support.

5. Learning Enablement

Great For: Improving overall learning outcomes.

Students can benefit from interactive learning tools. These platforms can foster a higher level of engagement. But when partnered with a Learning Enablement platform, students can achieve better academic outcomes.

A Learning Enablement platform combines a digital-first approach with best practices for engagement and studying to help students learn more effectively. Learning Enablement platforms help students, including features that make course materials more accessible. These can be text-to-speech readers, highlighting and notetaking tools, and other interactive features. All of these features make educational content more accessible and engaging for students.

BibliU’s Learning Enablement platform offers a unique all-in-one feature set that can provide benefits at every level. With BibliU, students have access to their materials from day one of class, with millions of e-textbook titles available on any device. Academics and educators can take advantage of in-book quizzes and analytics to track student progress and engagement with content. And institutions can, at a high level, lower their content costs by $35 per student per class while streamlining their entire procurement process.

Learning Enablement platforms exist to help students succeed through leveraging technology and best practices for studying. However, this can have a domino effect that improves student persistence, retention, and completion rates. It’s a win all across the board.

Closing the Gap With Technology

Technology can undoubtedly help educators with more than just time-saving tools. Digital learning tools and resources can help make learning more effective. Educators can also strategically use these tools to be more accommodating to students and their individual needs or circumstances. Thus, digital learning resources can, in their way, level the academic playing field and make learning more equitable. While it may take some buy-in and time to implement these tools properly, it’s certainly worth incorporating digital learning strategies, resources and tools into any educational program.

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