Much has been written about the benefits of technology as a tool for learning and teaching, giving students a familiar digital environment to learn and enabling instructors to personalize instruction to achieve greater results. Today, computers can be found in 95 percent of schools, used for just about everything from attendance-taking to accessing and using online curricula.
Indeed, digital transformation in education is well underway. Textbooks, binders and chalkboards are giving way to laptops, tablets and smartboards, changing the way teachers teach and students learn. Instructors are peer-sourcing instructional-related materials to create richer, more engaging lessons, while students are exploring the internet for related content that extends learning further.
In non-instructional areas, technology is simplifying mundane yet important tasks, such as tracking compliance to government mandates, monitoring energy use and even ordering supplies. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and other cloud-based technologies are helping schools save money while providing greater access to instructional tools for teachers, students and parents alike.
Paving the Way for Digital Transformation
The integration of technology into the education system has lagged behind other industries, such as financial services and healthcare. But that has changed, as multiple studies demonstrate and espouse the benefits of technology-enhanced instruction.
To illustrate the digital transformation occurring in education today, consider the following:
Those statistics prove digital transformation is no longer just being talked about, it’s being implemented.
Basic technology tools such as laptops or tablets have laid the foundation for digital learning, providing the means by which content can be accessed and consumed both in the school and at home. Smartboards and learning management systems extend that learning by enabling greater interactivity between teacher, student and subject matter. For example, rather than assigning students to read a chapter about the human knee in their biology textbooks, a teacher could present a 3D model on the smartboard screen to discuss the physiology and point out the parts of the knee. Students then can log on to an online learning module to watch a video of how a knee connects to and operates with other bones to make a joint, then answer a quiz based to see what they’ve learned.
A bevy of software applications and modules, offered both on-premises and in the cloud and designed to be interactive in nature, take the learning environment beyond the static lecture to engage students of all learning types. Visual learners have the benefit of pictures, diagrams and videos to help them understand a topic, while aural learners can take advantage of recordings or related podcasts. Classroom and small group discussions—even with classes located in other states or countries using collaboration software—based on the learning modules can help verbal learners absorb the material.
Adaptive learning is emerging as a critical element in helping students learn more effectively no matter what their learning style. In adaptive learning, students are taught in a modular learning environment that captures their every decision and measures them in the context of learning theory, then adjusts the content to better guide the student’s learning experience.
Using technology in education can help schools save money, too. In many cases, schools are funding their technology implementations with the money they save from yearly textbook purchases. The Upper Perkiomen School District in Pennsylvania, for example, has saved $300,000 over two years by ditching textbooks and switching to digital curricula. Some of that money—$20,000—has been used to fund a 1-to-1 Chromebook program.
Technology has the power to transform the educational experience, but it requires an infrastructure designed to handle the bandwidth-intensive applications digital education requires. Dedicated and broadband connectivity solutions are helping educational institutions advance their digital learning agendas. A fiber-rich IP network supports a full line of dedicated, broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity services, ensuring an always-on, always-connected environment. To enable an optimal experience with minimal worry, educational institutions should work with a network services provider that can handle every aspect of the network, from provisioning to management, to help them focus on providing services and not on maintaining their network.
Education is experiencing a digital transformation, as schools recognize the impact technology can have on learning and teaching alike. Computers and mobile devices are being adopted at a more rapid pace as tools to enhance learning, while learning management systems and other online content are creating a more engaging educational environment to further learning for all students, no matter what their learning style. Technology is changing the education experience, to the benefit of all.
 “Computer and Technology Use in Education Buildings Continues to Increase,” news release, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Feb. 3, 2016 http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=24812
 Benjamin Herold, “Technology in Education: An Overview.” Education Week, June 7, 2016 http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/technology-in-education/
 Michael Gagne, “Tech and Content Team Up,” District Administration, February 2017, https://www.districtadministration.com/article/tech-content-team