What Are the Opportunity Costs of Digital Learning?

When teachers make decisions for their classroom, they often have to consider what the opportunity cost will be for a particular path. They must know what they will be giving up in order to pursue their desired route. Most schools are adopting digital learning platforms with the increasing popularity of edtech. Educators are left wondering what they might be missing out on by opting for these new forms of technology.

In other words, what are the opportunity costs of digital learning?

Let’s take a closer look at what digital learning promises to give to the modern classroom and what it could be costing our students.

Digital learning could take away from a more equalized academic system.

The previous model of education used written materials and textbooks to ensure that all students had access to the same information. Sending textbooks home with children guaranteed that low-income students had access to the same study materials and answers as those from high-income households. This is no longer true when digital learning usurps the more traditional model. Those from low-income households may not have the same technology available at home to study and practice necessary skills.

Students are losing their interpersonal skills.

School is one of the only places where students will learn to navigate the social world around them. Their peers often have grace for their blunders and social mishaps at this age. In the future, their employers are likely to be far less forgiving of a social faux pas. Unfortunately, one of the opportunity costs of digital learning could be a child’s social skills.

They will now be spending much of their time in front of a computer screen instead of among their peers. We are creating a society that continues to make the next generation less socially inclined than the ones before. In fact, two out of five millennials have found difficulty in their job or personal life due to a lack of social skills. As a result of too much screen time, their interpersonal skills could be extremely lacking upon graduation.

Staying on task is less likely with digital learning.

Every classroom is bound to have a few daydreamers, but it used to be relatively easy for teachers to keep a class focused on their work. By focusing on their classwork and materials, students would be more apt to absorb the material and retain it for longer periods of time. In today’s classroom with digital learning, you might find that staying on task is a lot less likely.

Children have shorter attention spans as the result of spending too much time in front of screens. Distractions are plentiful, and your students might have lower academic performance because of their digital learning. This could be a dangerous opportunity cost for something that is generally considered to be a very positive item.

Digital learning presents a lot of wonderful opportunities to students, but is the cost too high for our students? After weighing what we might be giving up with this new system of digital learning, teachers might want to move forward with caution and restraint. Some digital learning could be extremely beneficial in the classroom. However, we shouldn’t rush to overdo it or we may offer students too much of a good thing.

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