K12 Digital Transformation - 2023 Survey. Towards a hybrid future for K12 learning and teaching.

Initial results and insights from the first annual Digital Transformation survey of HolonIQ’s Global K12 Education Network, conducted in December 2022- January 2023

Education Intelligence Unit

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April 6, 2023

K12 education leaders representing schools and school systems, along with government, industry and EdTech stakeholders share their insights and experiences about digital transformation in K12. The inaugural K12 Digital Transformation survey and findings present a snapshot of perspectives from the HolonIQ K12 network.

K12 education at an inflection point, driven by technological advancements, cultural and economic shifts. Schools and systems are looking to create resilient learning ecosystems, supported by digital teaching and learning. To support K12 leaders in this endeavor, HolonIQ has developed the K12 Digital Capability Framework, established the K12 Global Network and launched the inaugural K12 Digital Transformation Survey. These resources provide tangible and actionable insights to help K12 leaders build successful and strong digital learning ecosystems.

This report summarizes results from HolonIQ’s K12 Digital Transformation survey, conducted with the Global K12 Education Network. The survey references HolonIQ's open-source K12 Digital Capability (K12DC) Framework, which is informed by academic research and with input from K12 education leaders globally. The K12DC Framework offers an overarching view for schools to map and measure digital capabilities across the learner lifecycle, ultimately to support sustainable and resilient approaches to create digitally responsible, capable, and productive citizens.

K12 Digital Capability Framework

HolonIQ’s Global K12 Digital Capability Framework (K12DC) establishes a common language to enable discussions among educators, school leaders, policy-makers, curriculum developers, instructional coaches, solution providers, district-level administrators, tech faculty, and other stakeholders seeking to understand how digital transformation is taking shape in K12 education.

The Framework focuses on digital capabilities across the whole learner lifecycle. K12 digital capabilities have been mapped to four connected dimensions across the lifecycle, from People & Systems (PS) to Learning Design (LD), Learner Experience (LX) and Life-Ready (LR). The framework encompasses current capabilities such as digital infrastructure, content and curriculum, assessment and exam prep, but also looks ahead to emerging and future capabilities that will be needed to support learners for a digital future.

Figure 1. HolonIQ Open-Source K12 Digital Capability Framework

Digital Transformation in K12: challenges, implementation, and outlook.

Teacher shortages around the world threaten K12 schools, so unsurprisingly, teacher retention is top concern for K12 Leaders. Additionally, preparing learners for the future and digital adoption concerns follow in a post-pandemic shadow. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the K-12 education system. One of the biggest challenges has been retaining teachers as some struggled to adapt to remote teaching during the pandemic and more are leaving the profession than entering it. Also, schools report that they struggle to prepare learners for an uncertain future, and across the system, from learners to leadership, wellness and wellbeing is of critical concern. These challenges will likely have long-lasting effects on how teachers teach and how students learn, making digital skills a critical part of their education and future success, so it’s no surprise that digital transformation comes right after these other challenges.

Figure 2. K12 Learning and Teaching Challenges
Figure 3. Importance of Digital to the future of K12 Education

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Just over one third of school self-assess as having high levels of digital maturity. They indicate that there is room for improvement and opportunities to build and strengthen digital capability.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of digital infrastructure and capabilities in K12 schools and systems. With the sudden shift to remote and hybrid learning, many schools struggled to provide students with adequate access to technology and digital resources. This has highlighted the need for schools to invest in digital infrastructure and approaches to better prepare for future disruptions. As 2023 continues, the K12 sector is likely to spend and invest human capital in these critical areas.

Figure 4. K12 Digital Capability - Self Assessment

K12 leaders in education and edtech expect hybrid models of delivery to be the future of K12 education

For K12 schools, hybrid learning is still at its infancy, with schools and systems still trying to understand how the term and models are evolving. The majority of K12 respondents see the balance of face-to-face and  digital learning markedly important over the next 10 years. 

Figure 5. Expectations on the Future of K12 Learning

Building Digital Capabilities: Priorities 

Integrating digital in K12 is complex—involving a variety of stakeholders spanning teams and departments. To address this, HolonIQ created the K12 Digital Capability Framework to support schools with  the challenge of digital transformation in K12 education. We centered it around the learner because for all K12 the learner is the top priority and it's a clear frame of reference to anchor future digital discussions. 

 Figure 6. K12 Digital Capability Framework - Core Elements
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K12 schools and systems identify the dimensions of Learning Design (LD) and Learner Experience (LX) as the biggest areas to grow capabilities.

When we asked about their top priorities for improvement in K12 education, our network indicated that enhancing the learner experience and improving learning design were at the top of the list. This comes as no surprise since these two areas are closely tied to achieving positive learning outcomes. It's also worth noting that there's a strong interconnection between these two areas, as improving learning design can have a direct impact on the learner experience. This is especially important when considering the role of technology in the classroom, as edtech products don’t always align with preferred learning design and approaches. 

Figure 7. K12 Digital Capability Priorities
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