What is Transformative Digital Learning?

Digital is a term with no single meaning, and having a variety of different ways of interpreting it makes adopting digital learning challenging. It can just mean ‘business as usual’, for example:

  • Handbooks, PPT and class notes in Blackboard
  • Online assignment submission and feedback in Blackboard
  • Web-conferenced lectures
  • Online eLibrary

However, it can be an enabler and disrupt our existing business. Digital can become  Transformative Digital Learning by increasing student-tutor and student-student interactions and enable sharing of collective intelligence (Ng’ambi, 2013), for example:

  • Student-created resources (individual and collaborative) e.g. Twitter, wikis, video, PPT, apps/software
  • Student-led FAQ forums
  • Online peer assessment
  • Online [shared] e-portfolios
  • Group/individual reflective [public] blogs

Learning designs for transformative digital learning can help to focus digital teaching and learning activity into mangeable approaches, for example :

  • Phase I: start with a problem statement and an educational goal and not with a technology. This goal is the object of the learning activity, e.g., to foster collaborative knowledge production that leverages distributed intelligence or expertise.
  • Phase II: the learning activity from Phase I should lead to the creation of an artefact (i.e., students either collectively or individually create something), for example: a digital story PPT, a mobile learning application, or an e-portfolio. An educator may prescribe the tool(s) or leave the choice of tools to students.
  • Phase III: make it a requirement that students, either as a group or individually, present the outcome from Phase II. Ensure that the presentation is persistent (i.e., record it) to enable reflection.
  • Phase IV: students (group or individuals) reflect on Phase III (presentation) and Phase II (artefact design) in view of the problem statement (Phase I). Ensure that these reflections are publicly visible to the class for subsequent feedback and discussion.
  • Phase V: students research, write and submit a reflective essay for assessment based on the assigned task.

(adapted from Ng’ambi, 2013, p.659)


Ng’ambi, D. (2013) Effective and ineffective uses of emerging technologies: Towards a transformative pedagogical model. British Journal of Educational Technology. 44(4), 652–661.