If you were fortunate enough to attend this week’s iNACOL symposium your registration bag included the Evergreen Education Group’s annual digital learning survey. The title of this year’s survey, Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning reflects not only the evolution of terminology associated with the field, but also the challenges that educators and administrators face as they integrate myriad new tools into their schools and districts. The survey, now in its 11th year, provides an overview of the latest policies, practices, and trends affecting learning programs across all 50 states. In other words, it’s a must-read report for school administrators who have implemented online programs or are considering the move to digital learning.
2014 marks yet another milestone year for the role of technology in learning, according to this latest study. The sheer number of technologies available to teachers and students to facilitate learning, and the many models in which these technologies are used, made such an impact on the researchers of the report that they chose to use the terminology of “digital learning” in place of “online and blended learning” in this year’s report.
At a high level, the survey concluded that while more students have access to “more types of digital learning tools than ever before” the gap between those that can access digital learning tools and those who can not is growing wider. The researchers conclude that “[t]here are still vast differences among schools in the availability of technology, data communications capabilities, and digital content tools…” and that this variance is effected not only by district choices but by “local and state policies.” The inclusion of detailed information on each state’s integration of digital learning provides tangible points of comparison as does the study’s concise rating system for the availability of digital learning options on a state by state basis.
The basic trend towards the integration of digital education into school districts nationwide is, however, undeniable. While some states, such as Florida, Washington, and Ohio are leading the way, all states have some form of digital education option available to their students. What we’d like to see now is not only greater sharing of best practices between districts and between states, but also more focus on measuring and understanding the impact of digital learning on student outcomes.
To download a full copy of the 2014 Keeping Pace survey click here…