The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a major infusion of technology into the US K-12 education system with the forced shift to remote (digitally enabled) learning.
For example, about 60% of educators using digital planning tools adopted them during the pandemic, and daily usage of digital instructional materials has jumped from 28% prior to the pandemic’s onset to 52% today. At the end of the third school year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are at a critical juncture. As students returned, devices in hand, to in-person learning in K-12 classrooms, now is the time to consider: How has teaching and learning changed, and what progress remains?
Based on EY-Parthenon research, we have identified three “frontiers” of education technology adoption, with the impact on teaching and learning increasing with each:
Frontier 1 — Using technology as a substitute. As time passes and more technology is adopted, teachers are increasingly comfortable with, and more frequently use, digital tools in their classrooms and for planning processes. However, they largely just shift activities and materials from print to digital format.
Frontier 2 — Using technology to drive collaboration and efficiency. Teachers leverage technology to enhance their ability to collaborate with peers and make their planning, instruction and grading processes more efficient; while the teacher workflow is somewhat transformed, the student learning experience looks relatively the same.
Frontier 3 — Using technology to transform student learning. Rapid adoption does not necessarily drive significant changes in behavior or improvement in instructional practices, so our research aimed to explore what has changed — and what really hasn’t. During the fall of 2021, our team conducted more than 30 interviews and classroom observations and surveyed nearly 900 teachers. This report outlines seven key findings and highlights outstanding questions as the uncertainty of the pandemic lingers.