Digital Knowledge Platforms Versus Traditional Education Systems

Subject: Education
Pages: 17
Words: 4520
Reading time:
17 min
Study level: College

Introduction

Background and Context

Today, many issues affect academic performance and the development of skills that are important for students. For a long period, personal, social, psychological, economic, and environmental factors were the most influential aspects of academic achievement (Thomson, 2018, p. 2). With time, interaction processes have been considerably improved, and technologies have become an obligatory step in the learning process. Multimedia technologies, various applications, and the Internet have already created new opportunities for students and promoted the progress of virtual environments (Ismail et al., 2018, p. 172). Teachers want to offer the best options for their students, and parents try to support their children financially and buy appropriate devices. It does not take much time to find the necessary information online. Modern students prefer to surf the web instead of visiting a local library and cooperating with real people. The integration of digital knowledge platforms is hard to stop, and the task of educators and parents is to make sure that students are protected online. A number of research projects aim to compare the characteristics of digital platforms and traditional education systems and define what approach covers students’ needs more effectively.

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The scope of this project is unique because it is expected to investigate students’ skills and knowledge, as well as their attitudes toward traditional and digital systems of education. Instead of analyzing what modern educators are able to offer to their students or what parents know about education’s worth, this study will demonstrate the positions of students. Academic performance may be measured by many issues like grades, resource management, and even the quality of leadership in the classroom (Lin, Chen, and Liu, 2017, p. 3554). Yet, the principles of education undergo changes, and the ways how students should pass exams and assess their knowledge depend on available technologies and teachers’ intentions. Young people are more passionate about the skills and observations within the offered interactive environment (Felszeghy et al., 2019). They want to use the best educational opportunities and demonstrate high academic performance either online or in real life. Therefore, it is important to examine if digital knowledge platforms contribute to academic performance better than traditional education systems.

Problem Statement

The impact of digital versus traditional systems of education on academic performance is a practical problem in this study. At this moment, many people, including scientists, researchers, technologists, and educators, are already involved in the discussion of this topic. However, new achievements in the technological field emerge regularly, and it is necessary to follow the progress. Therefore, studies and original projects are developed to analyze the conditions under which students have to cooperate with teachers and peers. For example, the Kahoot tool was introduced at the beginning of the 2010s, and it was implemented by several academic facilities in the theoretical sessions in the academic year 2018-2019 (Fuster-Guilló et al., 2019). In addition to this game-based platform, students around the globe continue using software programs like Canvas, GoReact, Dyknow, ClassDojo, and McGraw-Hill Connect to improve their educational experience, facilitate communication, and exchange information (Best education software, no date). Some parents are not confident if such a choice of programs and no classroom face-to-face activities could have a positive effect on students’ academic performance. In their turn, not all students have enough practice to use digital knowledge platforms successfully.

The purpose of this study is to clarify how to make education more comfortable and valuable by comparing traditional and digital approaches. Young people have to be excited about the possibility of studying quickly and obtaining good results. Their academic performance directly depends on the offered education systems and knowledge platforms, and it is high time to clarify why online education and digital learning can or cannot be more beneficial for modern generations. In most studies, attention is paid to the benefits of traditional systems of education due to the already made achievements and experience of educators to deliver information in a comprehensible way. Still, one should admit the differences between children who live in developed and developing countries and their familiarity with recent technologies. Much information about students’ background and technological skills is usually missing, and this project has to focus on what students know about digital and traditional learning processes and how they make their choices.

Research Questions

In this research project, four specific questions have to be answered:

  • RQ1. What are the differences between digital knowledge platforms and traditional education systems?
  • RQ2. Is digital learning associated with better motivation and skill assessment among students than traditional education?
  • RQ3. What are the attitudes of students toward using digital knowledge platforms for education?
  • RQ4. What form of education do modern students prefer – digital or traditional?

The Relevance and Importance of the Research

Technology adjustments cannot be ignored today because they have a serious impact on different spheres of human life, including health care, business, education, and science. Millions of people in developed and developing countries cannot imagine a day without spending some time on the Internet to learn recent news, read a fresh book, or buy a service online. As a result, in the era of rapid knowledge and information exchange, people expect to gain the necessary skills and experience in their school environments (Lin, Chen, and Liu, 2017, p. 3554). Digital knowledge platforms are regularly introduced within different academic facilities, and teachers are obliged to inform their students how to use new tools and achieve positive results in a short period (Fuster-Guilló et al., 2019). This research is worth doing today because students should understand why digital learning is a good option for them in the period of technological progress. They should not waste their time comparing the benefits of traditional and digital systems of education and rely on the findings of this research.

The relevance of this study is explained by the intention of many countries to support the idea of digital education. It is also important to admit the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on learning processes. Many researchers call online learning, which is an outcome of properly developed digital knowledge platforms, a panacea in the time of pandemic that restructures integral processes and ensures the delivery of knowledge (Dhawan, 2020, p. 12; Maity, Sahu and Sen, 2020). Not all countries have access to the necessary vaccines, and many families cannot travel and visit the countries or cities they want for their academic or business purposes. Therefore, the idea that digital knowledge platforms can promote better academic performance than traditional education systems is central to this project. Students should not be afraid to try something new but demonstrate their readiness to learn the necessary course content online, complete tasks, take tests, and get good grades.

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Literature Review

Nowadays, much information about distance learning, digital knowledge platforms, and traditional systems of education can be found. Researchers focus on quality and quantity and determine what approach to advocating. In the face of progressive technological impact, digital learning may be regarded as a sufficient alternative to traditional classroom activities (Lin, Chen, and Liu, 2017, p. 3562). Some researchers conduct comparative analyses and apply mixed methods to identify if academic performance depends on the type of education program in which a person is involved (Abuhassna et al., 2020; Paul and Jefferson, 2019). Technical aspects of knowledge acquisition are commonly discussed in many academic facilities, and the opinions of teachers and parents are considered (Ismail et al., 2018, p. 179; Thomson, 2018, p. 2). The purpose of this study is to investigate the positions of students and their readiness to replace traditional ways of education (face-to-face cooperation) with digital knowledge platforms (distant learning). There are three main concepts to be summarized, namely academic performance, traditional education, and digital platforms. Then, learning theories of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism will be discussed to build a framework for the study and introduce the main hypotheses.

Academic Performance

Student success consists of several elements, and academic performance is one of them. According to Ismail et al. (2018, p. 171), such factors as the use of technology, the quality of the interaction process, and student/class characteristics determine student academic performance. The role of teachers in the learning process cannot be neglected. These people usually provide students with the necessary resources and teaching materials, apply effective education methods, and diversify media content to help students be properly motivated and glad to learn (Lin, Chen, and Liu, 2017, p. 3554). Such activities as reading, writing, and class discussion lead to better class performance, and student performance can be measured by grades (Paul and Jefferson, 2019). Felszeghy et al. (2019) recommend the analysis of player attrition and knowledge retention as the major indicators of student performance. Young people need a solid theoretical background to complete class tasks and homework properly. As such, the more information they are able to find, learn, and memorize, the higher performance grades they can get. Student knowledge is priceless, and teachers must choose the methods that meet the needs of today’s generation.

Traditional Education Systems

Traditional education means the application of conventional learning tools that commonly include books, pencils, blackboards, and chalk in a classroom. In traditional instruction, the use of technology (PowerPoint, videos, and simulations) is highly supported (Chen, Lu, and Lien, 2019, p. 3). Still, in most cases, teachers promote and participate in these activities, reducing students’ need to learn technological basics. Traditional teaching methods are based on the idea of personal interactions when students develop their problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and decision-making in classroom discussions (Felszeghy et al., 2019). Despite the fact that many students are interested in exchanging information via social media and other digital platforms, Felszeghy et al. (2019) believe that scholarly reading and cooperation with faculty remain relevant in classrooms. The benefits of traditional education also include the possibility to provide real-time face-to-face instructions and analyze current issues directly (Paul and Jefferson, 2019). Students are free to ask questions and obtain answers from their teachers or peers. They can choose and decide, observe reactions, and communicate, which is extremely important for modern people. The Internet should never replace real-life activities, and traditional education is based on this principle.

Digital Knowledge Platform

Students face new educational opportunities and challenges almost every decade. An extended experience with educators and parents helps students cope with complex tasks and understand the purposes of their personal and academic development. Yet, any achievement usually has two sides, and when something new is discovered, additional skills and knowledge are necessary. In many academic settings, digital game-based learning has already become one of the instructional approaches (Liao, Chen, and Shih, 2019, p. 43). Digital knowledge platforms are developed to provide students with more options on how to organize their learning processes. For example, Paul and Jefferson (2019) admit that digital education is an opportunity for students with busy lives or limited flexibility to get a high-quality education without determining priorities. The Internet connection unites students from different parts of the world, and the exchange of experience and observations is significantly enriched. At the same time, teachers benefit from game-based learning platforms as it is a good opportunity to create multiple choice quizzes, surveys, and other tests to check student performance (Fuster-Guilló et al., 2019). It is correct to say that digital knowledge programs enhance collaboration and various classroom activities.

Theoretical Framework

Although the progress of e-learning and digital knowledge platforms is evident in modern classrooms, there is no specific theory to speculate on the characteristics of distant and traditional learning processes. Kibuku and Ochieng (2018, p. 226) offered their grounded theory approach during a science and computer conference where they evaluated the principles of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism, the three classical learning theories. Behaviorism aims at identifying instructional steps and measurable behaviors for teachers and learners (Kibuku and Ochieng, 2018, p. 229). This theory explains that learning is always a response to external factors. Cognitivism states that learning has to be an active process that involves memory, thinking, and reflection (Kibuku and Ochieng, 2018, p. 229). People are usually compared to computers that store and share information as per their request. Finally, constructivism helps to define different types of learning (group interactive, learner-centered, and knowledge construction) (Kibuku and Ochieng, 2018, p. 229). In terms of this theory, students have to rely on their past experiences and develop critical thinking. Theorists around the globe apply these theories to explain learning behaviors and processes and believe that a new e-learning framework is not required.

Gaps in Existing Knowledge

In addition to an evident missing theory that explains the peculiarities of digital knowledge platforms, this literature review reveals several gaps in understanding the role of teachers and students. Many researchers aim at discussing the advantages of online learning for students due to the pandemic crisis and the necessity of social isolation for different populations (Maity, Sahu, and Sen, 2020; Dhawan, 2020, p. 18). Fuster-Guilló et al. (2019) and Liao, Chen, and Shih (2019) discuss the benefits of game-based learning platforms from the point of view of teaching and the possibility to create new assessment tools. Finally, Felszeghy et al. (2019) identify the necessity to improve academic performance by means of digital tasks and content. New knowledge platforms create equal access to learning resources, but not much information is given about students’ readiness and awareness of the Internet technologies. Therefore, if it is expected from learners to participate in online group assignments, guarantees that they have enough resources and skills should be given. This project will fit the gaps in students’ perceptions of digital knowledge platforms and traditional education systems by evaluating their background abilities.

Research Framework

The current research project will be organized on a solid conceptual framework. There will be three major categories for analysis: digital platforms, traditional education activities, and academic performance. Communication with students is the main source of information that allows identifying what students have already known about different knowledge platforms and how they treat the offered systems of education. Due to the pandemic crisis around the globe, many academic facilities have already used digital resources to continue student education and assess their academic performance. Within the chosen research framework, it is necessary to understand if all students are motivated to use online services. Education usually means communication between students and teachers to promote knowledge, exchange information, and acquire skills. Young people have to recognize their responsibilities not only as learners but also as proficient users of online services. They need to create accounts, follow announcements online, and download their projects. Online discussions and forums are created to check their awareness of a topic and readiness to participate in common activities. The engagement in digital and traditional learning environments depends on how students comprehend their tasks, pose questions, and assess information.

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Hypotheses

There are three main hypotheses to be analyzed and proved in this research project:

  • H1. Digital knowledge platforms are more effective than traditional education systems.
  • H2. Students are more interested in using digital platforms in their learning process than participating in traditional face-to-face activities.
  • H3. Modern students have a solid background and motivation to succeed in applying digital knowledge platforms.

Research Design and Methods

Research Design

The first step in this study is a literature review, with the help of which a researcher could gather background information about traditional education systems and digital learning platforms. Then, it is necessary to develop a research methodology that explores the opinions of students about different systems of education. Exploratory research is chosen to investigate an idea of academic performance through the prism of two different learning strategies – digital and traditional. In previous studies, researchers used comparative designs and analyzed the differences between the offered approaches and learning environments (Chen, Lu, and Lien, 2019, p. 4; Paul and Jefferson, 2020). However, the question about the impact of learning platforms on academic performance remains open because the opinions and knowledge of students are poorly explored. In this exploratory study, a questionnaire will be designed to clarify what students know about digital knowledge platforms, how they used traditional systems of education, and what changes they have to undergo. In other words, the main idea of this quantitative, exploratory study is to provide a comprehensive description of two systems of education on the basis of information obtained from students’ questionnaires.

The questionnaire will contain 21 questions that are divided into four sections. The first part aims at gathering demographic facts about the participants (four questions). The second part focuses on the peculiarities of traditional education and the experiences of students in this area (four questions). The third part reveals the information students possess about digital knowledge platform and their attitudes toward this method of education (four questions). A final part is developed to concentrate on the differences between digital and traditional systems in terms of academic performance, student motivation, and success (five questions). Questionnaire development is based on a 5-point Likert scale, except for the first part where personal information should be presented:

Personal Information

  1. Gender
    • Male
    • Female
  2. Age ________
  3. Ethnic group _________________
  4. Digital knowledge program applied __________________

Traditional Education

  1. I find the traditional system of education as the most effective approach
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  2. I think that real-life communication with a teacher is beneficial for my learning process
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  3. Traditional education contributes to my problem-solving and decision-making skills
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  4. I believe that traditional education systems contain a clear description of assignments
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree

Digital Knowledge Platforms

  1. I consider digital knowledge platforms effective for my learning process
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  2. I want to continue using digital platforms in my education
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  3. I have solid background knowledge about digital platforms to complete my assignments
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  4. I need more information and support to continue working with digital knowledge platforms
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree

Academic Performance

  1. When a traditional system of education was applied, I got high grades
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  2. When a digital knowledge platform was applied, I got high grades
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  3. I complete assignments successfully within a traditional system of education
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  4. I face few/no problems while completing assignments within a digital knowledge platform
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  5. I am glad/satisfied with the fact that our facility encourages using digital knowledge platforms over a traditional education system
    Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree

Methods and Sources

As soon as a research design is defined and a questionnaire is developed as the main research tool for data gathering, the next step is to discuss procedures and participants of the study. Quantitative data allows for collecting and analyzing large amounts of information in a short period. Therefore, the choice of participants plays an important role because they are the primary sources of information. In this study, the decision to use snowball sampling is made. Twenty students from two local universities or other academic facilities are planned to be invited to the study from the beginning. All of them will get an invitation letter where participation conditions are discussed. One of the requirements will be to invite at least one more participant (but no more than five) to the study and complete a questionnaire form. All questionnaires will be printed and delivered to the primary participants at hand. In the envelope, there will be five additional copies of the same questionnaire so that other people could have the possibility to participate. An expected total number of participants is 100, but the type of sampling may vary.

In general, one or a maximum of two weeks should be given to gather participants, provide them with instructions, obtain approval from university administration, complete a questionnaire, and turn in replies for analysis. At least five local schools, colleges, or universities have to be investigated. Real-life visits and communication with administrators (principals) will be appreciated. The researcher should provide oral and written (if required) explanations of the study, its purposes, and outcomes. All participants will be provided with clear guarantees of autonomy (the possibility to withdraw from the study), anonymity (no names are revealed), and confidentiality (protection of the identity from being discovered by others). The researcher will leave an e-mail if a student needs more explanations or has some questions. The inclusion criteria for participants are to be a student, to speak English, and to work under a traditional system of education and a digital one. Teachers, parents, and preschool children have to be excluded from the study because they do not use digital programs that may directly influence their academic performance.

In the study, questionnaire data will be subject to descriptive statistical analysis, including the reliability test and the validity test. Reliability analysis will measure data reliability through the stability and consistency of data obtained from questionnaires. Cronbach’s α will be applied to test the internal consistency with a coefficient between 0 and 1. Validity will be tested on the basis of the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) and Bartlett Sphericity tests, with a deviation of no more than 0.5. ANOVA and t-tests are chosen to analyze descriptive statistics. Specific software programs will be used as per the researcher’s proficiency and experience.

Pilot Study

A questionnaire with 21 questions divided into four categories was offered to 20 students from the same local college. The researcher talked directly to a college principal and obtained approval to communicate with students of different courses. Informed consent was printed, with the study’s goal, major procedures, and expected outcomes. It was necessary to talk to students on campus and explained to them the essence of the project and their contributions. Ten students rejected the offer because of personal reasons, and 20 students took a questionnaire form and volunteered to invite their friends (which was a part of snowball sampling). The main obstacle was the inability to predict the final number of participants.

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In one week, all 20 participants were met individually, and they returned their replies. Students underlined that all the questions were free from ambiguity, which facilitated their understanding of the task. No students contacted the researcher during the data gathering process, and they admitted that all questions were clear. Some participants invited their friends and peers to complete the questionnaire, and some people rejected this idea because they wanted their participation to be confidential in the study. In total, 65 replies were gathered, and five of them were not appropriate as they did not meet at least one inclusion criterion. Therefore, data from 60 questionnaires were chosen for further analysis. Before the application of a data analysis tool, all responses from parts two, three, and four were coded (Strongly disagree – 1; Disagree – 2; Neutral – 3; Agree – 4; Strongly agree – 5). However, the main point is that responses for traditional education systems were reversed coded to meet the purpose and check if digital knowledge platforms have positive attitudes.

Data Analysis

SPSS version 25 was used for data analysis and to obtain an appropriate number of answers from all 26 questions. The KMP value was 0.5, and p was about 0 in the Bartlett Test of Sphericity, which proved the appropriateness of the information about participants and their attitudes toward the offered variable. Cronbach’s α coefficient was about 0.7, and it tested the internal consistency of data. The analysis of ANOVA and t-tests was effective in the study, as this method allowed to analyze the offered replies from different perspectives and gather the material that can be applied for further studies.

In the pilot study, 46% of respondents were female, and 54% were male. Most of them are from the same courses, and they were able to study under the traditional education system and use a digital knowledge program during the pandemic. Canvas was defined as a common digital platform for evaluation, and about 89% of participants admitted their desire to continue working within a digital learning system. Digital knowledge platforms were proved to be more effective for obtaining high grades and completing class assignments. Traditional education did not receive many negative outcomes. However, comparing the answers of students, there were more “Strongly agree” replies concerning digital platforms, while traditional education got “agree” or “neutral” replies. All four hypotheses were approved, and students demonstrated their increased motivation and desire to work with digital tasks instead of visiting classrooms and working face-to-face with peers and tutors.

Implications and Contributions to Knowledge

This study will be associated with several implications and contributions to knowledge. On the one hand, communication with students and their replies to a questionnaire will help gather subjective information. Participants will demonstrate what they know about digital and traditional systems of education at the moment and if they are able to compare their academic achievements under different approaches. On the other hand, quantitative information is obtained from real people with their own judgments and ambitions. Therefore, biased data from a small sample size is a limitation that cannot be ignored.

Practical Implications

Practical implications of the study include real outcomes of a traditional education system and digital knowledge platforms during a learning process. Students will answer the questions and show if they are interested in the identified systems. In addition, it is possible to clarify which approach is more beneficial for students when they have to complete their assignments. Their motivation either to study traditionally or to apply digital platforms will be revealed. Although quantitative information presents no reasoning to approve or disprove the offered hypothesis, several logical conclusions can be made. For example, the researcher will see if students have some background in digital knowledge platforms and are able to analyze their achievements in education. Therefore, it is rational to use this study as a starting point for future quantitative research where personal, social, and technological factors will be evaluated. The COVID-19 crisis has its outcomes on people, and the system of education has to be changed. This research will prove if digital knowledge platforms could be properly implemented in other academic facilities in the region.

Theoretical Implications

In this study, a theoretical framework contains three main learning theories – behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. The chosen research instrument, a questionnaire, will not cover the aspects of behaviorism. Still, these findings will confirm the importance of constructive and cognitive issues in choosing between digital knowledge platforms and traditional education systems. Students have to memorize and reflect on their experiences when they complete a questionnaire form. In addition, they will consider their past experiences and evaluate their possibilities to improve academic performance with a digital platform. There are many factors on which the students’ academic performance may depend, and if digital learning could reduce anxiety, peer pressure, and time shortage, the two theories can be extended. Using the findings of the current study, future research should also include behavioral changes under digital vs. traditional systems of education.

References

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