In a recent poll conducted by Deloitte, a panel of over 1,300 audience members was asked the question “Which pillar of the education ecosystem do you think will likely be the most transformed by technology? Here is how they responded:
The poll results indicated that K-12 institutions (39%) will likely be the most transformed by technology. With significant challenges of a widening skills gap, low returns on investment and an increasing need for innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation, K-12 institutions are feeling the pressure to embrace technology. US spend on education technology was recently projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.2% during 2014-18, from 23.6 billion in 2014 to 26.8 billion in 2018.¹
Going forward, technology’s role will be important in better enabling governments, administrators, teachers, parents and students to accelerate both the rate at which skills develop and positively impact the economy. This will require shifting focus from content to the connections that can:
1) Facilitate collaborative networks to guide the student at the center of the ecosystem;
2) Develop a continuous learning experience from K-12 to the workplace, and
3) Offer integrated technology solutions that combine learning competencies across educational technology (ed-tech) providers.
As Mizuko Ito (Professor in Residence at UC Irvine) describes, connected learning is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward expanding educational, economic, or political opportunity. It is realized when a person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to career success.² A case in point is High Tech High (HTH) that operates 12 charter schools in San Diego and Chula Vista counties. In 1998, technology company executives partnered with civic authorities to address the gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills and started the first HTH school. To achieve its mission, HTH brings together students, teachers, administrators, and parents through practical hands-on training, experiential learning, coupled with traditional academic education to prepare students for college. To maximize connectivity, High Tech High employs PowerSchool, a web-based student information portal that helped students, parents, teachers, administrators and real-world experts stay connected and monitor progress. High Tech High’s connected learning initiatives have shown positive results with 30% its graduates entering STEM fields.
As seen in the example of High Tech High, with Digital education 2.0, the education ecosystem will continue to evolve around students, with their passions and interests at the center. Classrooms may extend virtually to encompass relationships with real-world experts in areas aligned with student interests; with the corporate world through internships and business-based projects; and external innovation hubs such as maker movement spaces, research labs, and business incubators and accelerators. The new ecosystem may also include peer-to-peer social learning platforms that promote open learning and enhance collaboration between students.
With Digital Education 2.0, K-12 institutions will also be better able to guide students in transitioning from school to college to career. Technology can help build and annotate an education historybased on an individual’s competencies, using different heuristics at different life stages across various subjects and modules. This history can then be used to connect the student to meaningful real-world opportunities. For example, as students work on real-life projects and link this learning to their formal institutional education, they can earn badges that become competency-based credentials. Personalized tools and techniques, such as PathSource and Pathbrite, can further help a learner manage the various types of content within a lesson plan and across one’s career, both inside and outside of a classroom.
As educational technology (ed-tech) providers continue to develop next-generation solutions, ecosystem players should match their pace and become more engaged partners evolving their technology solutions. Connected learning is an opportunity for governments to work with ed-tech providers to build flexible learning solutions that allow for all three types of connectors—across ecosystems, across the lifetime learning journey, and across technological functionality.
1 Rishi Sood, Rika Narisawa, Anurag Gupta, and Katell Thielemann, Forecast: Enterprise IT spending for the government and education markets, worldwide, 2012–2018, 2Q14 update, Gartner, July 18, 2014.
2 Banerjee, PM and Belson, G. Dig Ed 2.0
To learn more about connected learning, read our recent publication on Digital Education 2.0: From content to connections.
Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee is a senior manager in Deloitte Services LP and heads cross-sector Technology, Media, and Telecommunications research.