Survey on Digital Learning Hints at Gaps in School Prep for 'Virus Days'
- By Dian Schaffhauser
more schools need to close even temporarily in response to
Coronavirus (COVID-19), in some places, they may not be able to
substitute at-home learning for in-class learning. A recent survey
found that just 70 percent of educators worked for schools in states
that allowed for the use of digital learning days in place of "snow
days" (which now might need to be renamed to "virus days").
Among those schools that have tried digital learning days, 70 percent
of respondents reported that those had a "positive impact"
on teaching and learning, with a subset of 18 percent stating that
the use was "very effective."
results came out of an open online survey for both teachers and
administrators in K-12. The project was initiated by PowerSchool,
a company that sells several education technology programs, including
its flagship learning management system. The survey drew 16,906
responses, 97 percent of which came from the United States and the
remainder from the rest of the world.
State of Digital Learning 2020"
came out before COVID-19 dominated headlines. Its findings primarily
focused on other topics — how schools are using digital tools and
digital learning and what the hopes and challenges are for that. But
it also provided a glimpse into some of the barriers schools will
face if they need to begin delivering instruction virtually in areas
such as whether devices are available for student use at home and
whether teachers feel ready to teach that way.
teachers only, the biggest digital learning challenge was student
access to technology at home, mentioned by 42.5 percent of
respondents. The next biggest challenge was "lack of time during
normal business hours," referenced by 39 percent. That was
followed by lack of parent involvement or understanding (30 percent).
top digital learning priorities for the current school, according to
teacher respondents, was more effective use of digital tools for
teaching and learning, mentioned by nearly half (46 percent);
implementing a new instructional approach (27 percent); and
collaborating with a professional learning community or other
educators (25 percent).
K-12 administrators, the top digital learning challenges consisted
relevant and effective professional development (37 percent);
management (36 percent); and
infrastructure, such as wireless networking and security (31
top priorities by a wide margin were:
use of "differentiated learning" was most common
instructional approach used by respondents, mentioned by 76 percent.
That was followed by blended or hybrid learning (57 percent),
individualized learning (56 percent), personalized learning (39
percent) and flipped learning (26 percent). Purely online learning
existed in just 10 percent of represented schools, and where that
existed teachers and administrators scored it below average in
effectiveness. (Blended and hybrid learning, on the other hand, was
rated a 3.5 on the 5.0 effectiveness scale.)
the tech front, two-thirds of schools represented in the survey (66
percent) are using Chromebooks; nearly half (47 percent) are using
Windows laptops and desktops; and more than a third (36 percent) have
iOS tablets and devices on hand; with Apple laptops/desktops present
at another 26 percent of schools.
largest share of schools (four in 10) run 1-to-1 programs, allowing
students to take devices home. Nearly a quarter of schools with
1-to-1 programs forbid their students from taking machines home.
Another large group (28 percent) use shared carts with devices on
them. Only 2 percent of respondent schools run
though this survey was run by a learning management system company,
LMS users didn't dominate. Just 47 percent said they had an LMS (and
in 30 percent of schools, usage of the LMS was required); 13 percent
said they didn't have one; and 39 percent were unsure.
was wide variation in school policies regarding the use of social
media. At nearly four in 10 schools (39 percent), social media was
only allowed for instructional use. Just under a quarter of schools
said social media wasn't allowed by anybody (23 percent) or only by
instructors and staff for sharing projects and activities (22
percent). Just one in seven schools (16 percent) said social media
use was "openly permitted."
the area of professional development, most respondents (62.5 percent)
said they attended "periodic workshops" among many other
options. More than half (55 percent) attended single-session
workshops. About half (51 percent) were part of a professional
learning community. Fewer than a quarter (24.5 percent) attended
online or blended courses.
concept of digital learning itself is an integral part of the overall
teaching and learning strategy in almost every school (97 percent);
the larger the district, the stronger the integration. And while most
educators (96 percent) believe that digital learning has had a
positive impact on student achievement "very much" or at
least "somewhat," a smaller share (87 percent) say the same
about whether it has made teachers more effective.
complete report is available with registration through
the Schoology website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.