“It [is] the experience of democracy itself. The free play of inquiry. The affirmation of human ability” (Rose 2009, 41). Digital learning platforms, such as Kahoot!, Quizlet, and Duolingo, may help foster this type of engaging and affirming educational environments Rose describes in a tactile and increasingly accessible fashion. Within the classroom, these three sites all serve to reinforce learned concepts through interactive games, like Kahoot!’s speedy multiple-choice competitions, varied studying techniques, such as Quizlet’s multimedia flashcards, and inclusive learning communities including Duolingo’s bilingual chatroom options.
Educators and software developers alike specifically design these platforms to emulate and attend to the experiences of the typical 21st century student. Particularly, the devices involve visual, auditory, and hands-on resources in order to diversify the learning experience for a variety of learners. Considering this idea, one of the most significant values held by Moses and Cobbs, the educational leaders of the Algebra Project, is “changing [the] consciousness” of historically disenfranchised learners by organizing communities that advocate for “opportunity structure[s] for every student” (Moses and Cobbs 2001, 6-10). Not only do digital platforms adhere to learners who thrive in competitive and interactive spaces, especially those with learning disabilities like ADD and ADHD who have been overlooked in traditional curriculums, but they also help create the ‘consciousness’ of curiosity in previously apathetic learners. Both Rose and the Algebra Project leaders agree that creating more appealing curriculums is useful in shaping students who will take their learning into their own hands and be better advocates for their future social and economic mobility.
In terms of what is left out of these devices, there is tension between the digital tools’ focus on the competitive drive of rote memorization and the push for more ‘active’ learning techniques. As the sites mostly attend to immediate, ‘instant-gratification’ methods, they may disregard the benefits of layering one’s learning in a more cohesive and gradual approach. Rose mentions how he feels a “confirmation of ability..with each written assignment building on the other” in his literature class (Rose 2009, 14-15). Some learners like him might learn more effectively and acquire long-lasting comprehension in spaces that highlight continuity, discussion, and written application.
Ultimately, despite the progress and inclusivity of digital educational tools, it is important to acknowledge the most appropriate ways to utilize and apply them in ways that boost students’ understanding rather than hinder their progress.