Giving Compass' Take:

· Writing for EdSurge, John Watson talks about the gradual introduction of technology into teaching and provides six strategic steps to take to successfully implement digital learning. 

· How has technology changed the way educators teach? How has it changed the way students learn? 

· Here's more on the digitization of the classroom and what we've learned

Shiny new technologies can capture well-meaning educators like insects in amber, but the evidence is clear that digital learning can improve student opportunities and outcomes. The key is building the basic foundation of understanding and planning.

Below I outline six strategic steps that will point school leaders as well as classroom teachers toward digital learning success:

1. Determine your education goals - Alice in Wonderland said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Similarly, schools that aren’t clear about what they are trying to accomplish are more easily distracted by technologies that may not deliver on their promise and are not aligned with school and district goals.

2. Consider that digital learning encompasses a wide range of tools and strategies - The adage, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” captures our tendency to rely on the tools that we know best. But the tool we know best may not be ideal for meeting the goals at hand.

3. Lead with teachers—not technology - We have been studying K-12 online and blended learning for 20 years. In that time, we have not found a single successful, scalable digital program that doesn’t rely on teachers to facilitate successful student outcomes.

4. Engage with stakeholders - Teachers aren’t the only ones who will experience the changes that come with digital learning. Students, parents, and community leaders will as well. Although a popular saying proposes that it’s better to seek forgiveness than ask for permission, in education often the opposite holds true.

5. Monitor progress - Educator Heather Heibsch launched a highly successful hybrid public schooland now is the executive director of a non-profit organization that is improving education in rural regions worldwide. She likes to say that teachers and schools should assess student progress consistently, so that they are “taking a temperature instead of doing an academic autopsy.”

6. Be patient - At this point you may be thinking “Wow this sounds hard. I just want some Chromebooks!” But the fact is, while thoughtful planning and stakeholder engagement takes more time up front, they pay off many times over in success. That’s not to say everything will go quickly and smoothly. In fact, you should expect some bumps.

Read the full article about digital learning by John Watson at EdSurge.