We've seen a significant uptake of digital learning in all forms and guises in schools over the past few years, driven by a number of things, including the desire to 'keep up' with what other schools, a sense that this is important for our young people and their digital future, or to replace traditional approaches of using text books with something more relevant and engaging.
But how do we know our use of digital technologies is actually contributing to powerful learning? The Evergreen Group have recenty published their annual review of policy and practice titled "Keepng pace with K12 digital learning" in which they present the findings of their research into what is happening with digital learning across schools in the US.
The report authors found that, overall, more students than ever before have access to digital learning opportunities (no surprises there), including online and blended learning, but indentified that state policies and other factors often limit digital learning’s availability. Most school districts in the US use digital learning tools and resources, but the extent, type, and goal of that use vary widely. Different grades use digital content and tools differently, too, according to the report:
The report identifies four reasons schools are increasingly incorporating digital learning opportunities into teaching and learning:
- Improving student access to a variety of schooling options
- Ensuring that students reach their maximum achievement levels
- Increasing technology skills, which parents, teachers, and stakeholders believe to be essential for college- and career-ready students
- Reducing costs
The report also identifies varying patterns of use between school types:
- High schools tend to offer fully online courses and many forms of digital content.
- Elementary schools tend to offer self-paced interactive activities that are topic-focused and collaborative
- Middle schools are a hybrid of high schools and elementary schools, in which younger middle school students are more likely to use interactive and skill-based lessons
- Older middle school students use other forms of digital content and begin venturing into online learning opportunities
Some ineresting reading here for those interested in trends and patterns of use re digital learning.