Was your state given an “F” in digital learning?

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Apr 8, 2013

Most likely. Only six states — Utah, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Virginia, and Kansas — received an “A” or “B” on the 2012 Digital Learning Report Card, whereas 37 states received a “D” or “F.” What does this mean? Well, states have a lot of work to do. But vendors have a lot of opportunities to help digitize and automate this market. 

 

The report card measures state policies on digital learning based on their alignment to the 10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning, which includes technology-enhanced learning in traditional schools, online, and virtual learning. The 10 Elements are organized around three general areas: digital learning customization and access to achieve academic success, a robust offering of rigorous and effective schools and courses, and 21st century infrastructure to ensure students have access to sustained digital learning.

According to the 2012 Report Card, only 11 states are “A-graded” to provide high-quality digital learning environments and online courses to students while only 9 states are “A-graded” with the ability to digitally teach students regardless of location and offer completely online student assessments. A good sign, however, is that a majority of states and schools are shifting away from textbooks and print to more digital content, ‘BiblioTechs’, and electronic books and resources. While various other metrics are factored into this grading system, it provides a fairly good assessment of how behind the education market is when it comes to implementing digital workflows and adopting new technology.

Element #10 — Delivery is the most interesting and the most alarming when it comes to going digital in the classroom. There were zero states that received an “A” in having an infrastructure that supports digital learning; and the highest grade overall? A measly “B-” which was achieved by only four states!

This is unacceptable in today’s technology market. While many schools have implemented or plan to take advantage of BYOD programs, if a school’s IT infrastructure is substandard to the demands of teachers and students, digital learning is near impossible to accomplish. Although funding can limit how technologically advanced a school can become, that’s not always the defining factor. In many cases, schools need to be educated about the technology available to help automate processes; they don’t need to necessarily spend more but make smarter spending choices that will contribute to long-term optimization and savings. This is a big growth area for vendors and an opportunity to offer solutions that help with these pain points.

Of course, like mentioned previously, funding is a big barrier for many schools and teachers. And it’s no surprise that the schools with the most funding available inherently received higher grades (Utah, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Kansas). While important, funding is not the only obstacle schools face in optimizing and automating student learning practices. In InfoTrends’ Business Process Automation for Vertical Markets study, we identified a few other areas where K-12 schools are struggling to achieve digitization. Lack of technology and the continued use of paper were two big bottlenecks overall.

 

In addition to these barriers, efficiency of workflows and maintaining confidentiality were the top concerns and objectives among K-12 educators. And much of these barriers and objectives can be resolved by the use of technology, which would help schools (and states) achieve “A” rankings. Some private funded schools may have the ability to implement and adopt solutions quicker, however, in other schools, we see an “MPS first” approach. Because of the amount of paper still utilized in K-12, (optimizing the amount of paper in education institutions to reduce costs) MPS may be a foot in the door that will lead to further automation opportunities to ultimately achieve digital learning.

For more insight into the K-12 vertical market and key areas of opportunities for vendors, check out our new Business Process Automation Consulting Service.

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