10 findings about K-12 digital learning

Digital learning itself is expanding in schools, but access to the classroom and home technology still remains a major obstacle, according to a new study from Schoology.

The State of Digital Learning report is based on responses from more than 9,200 education professionals and covers challenges, priorities, and student achievement as they relate to digital learning and edtech tools.

The study yields significant findings regarding challenges and priorities, the role and impact of technology, digital citizenship, and emerging edtech trends, and professional development and learning communities.

Nearly 42 percent of study participants say lack of student access at home is their biggest obstacle to student learning. More than 50 percent also say their school or district is one-to-one, and more than half of them let students take those devices home.

The study breaks down obstacles to student learning by rural, suburban, and urban. Lack of student access at home is the biggest obstacle for both rural (51 percent) and urban schools (close to 45 percent), while insufficient time to teach individual students who need it most is the top obstacle in suburban schools (42 percent).

K-12 classroom teachers say their top two digital learning challenges are juggling multiple digital tools for teaching and learning and student access to technology. Teachers’ top priorities are integrating new ed-tech tools into the classroom, along with improving assessments, reporting, and data-driven decision making.

Administrators’ top challenges are providing relevant and effective professional development, dealing with technological infrastructures such as wi-fi and security, and device management. Top digital learning priorities are providing ongoing professional development, encouraging instructor collaboration, and rolling out new devices or device strategies.

More than 34 percent of respondents cited internet safety as the number one digital citizenship concern, yet an equal number of respondents do not have a digital citizenship program in place or are not encouraged to discuss the topic with students.

About 40 percent of schools allow social media for educational purposes only, while nearly 20 percent have an openly permitted social media policy. These numbers speak to the notion that institutions are increasingly meeting students where they are.

Digital learning needs to extend beyond the K-12 classroom and into teacher PD opportunities. Most PD courses are still conducted via in-person workshops, with 60 percent of schools and districts relying on periodic workshops.

Major findings include:

1. Relevant and effective PD remains a top concern
2. Professional Learning Communities have a positive effect on
professional learning
3. More institutions see the value of dedicated instructional technologists
4. Educators are increasingly eager to integrate ed-tech
5. Most institutions provide differentiated instruction to students
6. Nearly half of respondents report that their institutions are using coding in classrooms
7. Lack of student access to technology at home is a roadblock for student learning
8. Learning Management Systems benefit students, teachers, administrators, and parents
9. Social media is finding its place in the classroom
10. Internet safety is a huge concern