Digital Education and developing 21st Century skills

We recently held a webcast entitled The Evolution of Digital Education: Content to connections outside the classroom where we asked the following question:
Question 1: In which segment do you expect the greatest investments in digital education over the next 3-5 years?

40% Kindergarten-12 Grade; 22% Higher Education; 13% Professional; 13% Don't know; 8% Personal/Individual learning; Total responses = 1,195

Like the audience, we at Deloitte also see the digital education opportunity in K-12 education, including devices and digital learning materials (educational software or apps, games, videos, audio, research sources, eBooks and simulations) used in the context of learning.  This year, Deloitte’s TMT practice commissioned its inaugural Digital Education Survey (DES) and analyzed over 2,800 responses from teachers, parents and students, across the spectrum of demographics, to more fully understand the opportunity.

Our findings suggest that digital education is widespread inside the classroom, with devices being used at least weekly, such as laptops (56% adoption) and tablets (51% adoption). Smartphones (with 28% adoption) are rapidly making inroads.  Adoption of digital learning materials include online educational videos (at 67%), closely followed by educational apps/software (at 65%). Outside the classroom, 90% of kids use digital learning materials at home and 2/3 start by the age of 5.

We followed with the question:
Question 2: Which do you feel is the most significfant reason for a child to use digital learning materials outside the classroom?

34% To personalize learning to child's skill levels and interests; 32% To develop skills in the child; 17% To engage the child; 12% Don't know/Not applicable; 5% To fulfill a school requirement; Total responses = 1,379

The first and close second of personalizing learning and developing skills in the child, respectively, strongly support strategies to bring real-life activities based on individual interests and career aspirations to digital education.  In our 2015 publication, Digital education 2.0: From content to connections, we frame three strategies. First, foundation builders provide core technology infrastructure and services— the building blocks of next-generation education solutions. Foundation builders can also use virtual learning spaces, which facilitate the shift from a unidirectional education value chain to an integrated education ecosystem. Second, content specialists deliver a combination of content creation, content aggregation, and customized delivery solutions on learning devices. Traditional content can be transformed into interactive, visualization-rich content to enable learning through experience, discovery, and exploration. Third, learning customization providers focus primarily on providing students and teachers with analytics, advanced learning, and assessment solutions. Personalized and adaptive learning solutions can humanize collaboration and “gamify” the learning experience, with badges to reward interest-based learning.

We then asked:
Question 3: Which tool/technology do you think will have the biggest impact on digital education solutions in the next 2-5 years?

29% AR/VR; 21% AI; 16% Social media; 13% Big data/analytics; 11% 3D printing; Total responses = 1,325

As our audience highlighted, we see digital education’s efficacy and ability to engage increasing with the incorporation of emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented Reality (AR) or artificial intelligence (AI). VR/AR and AI can be combined in ways that the technologies themselves learn from students’ responses and change to gradually increase in difficulty, imbuing critical thinking skills. Teachers and students can jointly explore such environments to test and practice concepts learned inside the classroom. These experiences will enable students to retain more of what they learn—research suggests that students remember 78% more of if they interact and engage*

Chief technology, strategy, and innovation leaders for school districts and education solutions providers, as well as the senior leadership of school districts (superintendents, school boards, principals, etc.) can benefit from a framework of moving from content to connections, and maximizing digital education investments that support not only personalization and skills development, but also student engagement. Learn more about our survey findings and their implications for school networks and solutions providers.


*Gardner, Tracy Q., Susan E. Kowalski, and Frank V. Kowalski. Interactive simulations coupled with real-time formative assessment to enhance student learning. In American Society for Engineering Education. American Society for Engineering Education, 2012

Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee is a senior manager in Deloitte Services LP and leads cross-sector thought leadership development in technology, media & entertainment and telecommunications. Her publications focus on novel technology trends and strategic implementation and impact. A former business school professor, she has over 40 publications in academic journals, popular press, and business books in strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. She holds a PhD from The Wharton School at UPENN and a BS in Business and Computational Biology from Carnegie Mellon.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Shashank Srivastava and Eitan Nir.

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