May 06 2019

3 Key Findings on the State of Digital Learning in K–12

A new report from Schoology finds districts need to restructure digital learning around professional development and detailed planning.

It should not be news that technology plays a major role in modern education because it is used in almost every school across the United States. But what is the actual state of digital learning when it comes to accessibility, implementation and effectiveness? 

More important, how can we use our understanding of the current state to improve the educational experience for all? Schoology recently released a report on the 2018-2019 state of digital learning in K–12 schools. Using the responses from 9,279 teachers and administrators, Schoology identified three major steps for moving forward with digital learning.

MORE FROM EDTECH: Check out how schools should define and act on digital learning.

1. It’s Not Just About the Teacher

Classroom technology implementation can go only as far as what is offered and supported by the school. Teachers noted difficulty in integrating new technology in their instruction as well as a lack of time to get familiar with new classroom tools. While new technology integration was identified as one of teachers’ top concerns, it was also their No. 1 priority. 

Schools can empower their staff by providing extensive training, outlining clear goals and expectations and offering helpful resources. 

The International Society for Technology in Education states that “more than 90 percent of teachers believe that up-to-date training on using technology in the classroom is important to achieve success, while nearly a third are not satisfied with the support they receive from their schools in integrating technology.” Digital learning not only affects instruction, but it impacts student learning and therefore becomes the responsibility of the entire school. 

2. Schools Need to Plan Before Integrating Technology

While it’s recognized as a key tool to enhance the learning experience, technology alone cannot be expected to meet goals without proper implementation. To be successful, schools need a collaborative plan. 

One of respondents’ top concerns was technological infrastructure. The reliability of a school’s infrastructure is the backbone of the day-to-day operations of the school. Teachers and students cannot consistently access technology if the infrastructure is not robust and secure. 

Another top concern focused on lack of instructor collaboration. If schools want to see consistency and coherence in technology use, they must provide continuous opportunities to plan and practice. One solution is to have a dedicated instructional technologist, one who can bridge the gap in tech knowledge and support collaborative endeavors.

MORE FROM EDTECH: See how schools can get started with blended learning.

3. Professional Development Is in Need of an Upgrade

Both teachers and administrators conveyed concerns about effective and relevant professional development. Administrators, in particular, have taken this to heart and made changing their strategies a top priority. 

One way is by creating professional learning communities where colleagues are given time to collaborate effectively. According to the study, 83 percent of teachers felt PLCs were helpful and effective PD tools. Another key component in the transformation of professional development is synchronous alignment. 

Schools that use the same learning management system for both PD and teaching discovered it benefited administrators, teachers and students. For instance, Google Classroom can be used to facilitate student classes as well as professional learning groups. A consistent LMS puts everyone on the same path and evolves the digital learning experience. With the vast range of solutions out there, consistency with one system allows for teachers and students to become familiar and develop their skills. Google even offers certifications as a way for teachers to become experts on the platform.

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