Digital Acceleration Means it’s time to Rethink Change in K–12 EdTech

October 27, 2020 Trip Kucera

An image of masked students in a classroom separated by plastic partitions.

Earlier this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (now) famously stated on the company’s earnings call, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” He was referring to the use of cloud-based Office 365, Azure, and Teams chat and meeting adoption, but this sentiment could also be stated for Educational Technology (EdTech).

At Blackbaud, utilization of our learning management system (LMS) has skyrocketed along with overall demand on our cloud. Year-over-year use of online assignments has increased 358%, online discussion board threads are up 316%, and online assessments (test & quizzes) have jumped 220% between September 2019 and 2020. But the critical question for many school leaders (and EdTech providers), is how the current moment is re-shaping “customer” expectations going forward?

Questioning the staying power of this digital shift motivated us at Blackbaud to commission an independent survey of K–12 parents. The results of this survey are captured in Blackbaud K–12’s new report, Rethink Change: Accelerating Education Technology Adoption in K–12 Private Schools. The report details how COVID-19 has shifted parent expectations around EdTech, modernized learning methodologies, and school communication. The report is based on a survey of 7,450 public and private school parents conducted by YouGov in the second half of August.  

The study is chock-full of insights, but two stats really stand out specific to the issue of EdTech adoption. The first relates to overall views of technology for teaching and learning as a result of COVID-19. Here, 71% of parents say that EdTech in this context has become more important to them.  

An infographic showing that 71% of private school parents say EdTech has become more important to them.

The second stat gets at the question of the future of EdTech in K–12 private schools. When asked specifically how they expected their child’s school to invest in technology going forward, 92% of parents indicated a preference for at least some area of EdTech with the top three being to 

  • Provide flexible digital teaching and learning resources that are all in one place/technology platform (56%);
  • Deliver interactive assignments, programs, and apps for students that are all in one place/technology platform (55%);
  • Incorporate technology that makes it easy for parents to be involved in the school community (53%).

The study also shows that these dramatic shifts in technology acceptance are taking place during a time of significant enrollment disruption. At the time of the survey, over one in five families already made plans to change schools.  

This disruption provides an opportunity for private schools to win over their newfound public school families for the long haul, as well as reduce attrition risk from their incumbents. The key to making the most of these opportunities is to understand and act upon parents’ evolving expectations.   

With 92% of private school parents saying that they want their schools to continually invest in EdTech to provide daily access to assignments and grades in one convenient location, foster communication and community involvement, and support modernized learning methodologies such as CBE, the blueprint to high retention is evident. It’s now up to school leaders to rethink how EdTech changes their schools and shine a guiding light forward.  

Please share the report with your school’s leadership team, Rethink Change: Accelerating Education Technology Adoption in K–12 Private Schools

About the Author

Trip Kucera

Trip is the director of marketing for Blackbaud K–12 solutions where he combines a love of learning with a passion for technology marketing.

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