Just as they did with disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers, school districts across the country stocked up on digital learning tools when COVID-19 hit. Most were purchased out of urgency to ensure learning continuity for all students, forcing stakeholders to rely on the promises of vendors rather than the traditional vetting process. It’s not surprising – schools were in survival mode, frantic to get their hands on anything and everything they could.
Almost two years later, schools are no longer scrambling for solutions, but striving to streamline their digital ecosystem. In moments of desperation, districts wasted billions of dollars on technology that didn’t live up to their expectations. Now that the chaos has calmed, it’s time to toss the tools that aren’t working – or aren’t used at all – and invest in proven solutions that best address teachers’ and students’ needs.
The four traits of effective digital learning tools
As your district begins to evaluate your digital learning tools for the 2022/2023 school year, keep the following traits in mind when comparing solutions. If a tool you’re considering doesn’t hit them all, it’s time to kick it to the curb and replace it with one that does.
- High-quality curriculum that aligns with your instructional goals – The right digital curriculum will help your district increase on-time graduation rates, lower dropout rates, and improve exam scores by providing each student with a personalized learning experience – no matter how or where they learn! It should also equip educators with the ability to effortlessly pivot to a new learning platform without skipping a beat in the event of another unexpected crisis.
- Accelerated learning to propel your students to on-grade proficiency – More than half of teachers in a recent survey stated that their students experienced significant learning loss and a stunt in their social-emotional growth due to the pandemic. While remediation alone can help students fill learning gaps, they’re perpetually playing catchup, whereas accelerated learning ensures they can quickly get back on grade level.
A digital learning solution like Apex Learning offers short cycle assessments, so educators can determine where each student is and where they need to go, review Tutorials that provide content necessary to support new subject matter, and individualized instruction that meets state standards.
- Greater engagement to help students earn or recover credits – When digital learning is passive rather than interactive, it’s almost impossible to keep students motivated. An effective learning platform builds on what students are learning in the classroom and then fully immerses them in a subject through captivating multi-media content, engaging activities, and non-scored practice and reviews. In addition, built-In scaffolds and embedded tools provide intentional support for struggling students.
- The ability to enhance instruction in the face of any challenge – If your school system is facing a possible teacher shortage, choose a digital platform that provides high-quality instructional content and assessments to help substitutes who may be teaching outside their subject area. To stand ready for an even bigger emergency, consider Apex Learning, which allows you to quickly staff an entire digital program within days. Our Apex Virtual Learning School offers a full catalog of online courses taught by experienced teachers.
By taking a hard look at the digital tools in your tech stockpile, you can finally start to clear out the clutter and make room for smarter solutions that ensure consistency for students and teachers, maximize learning outcomes, and give your budget a much-needed breather. For additional help, check out 10 Key Questions for Evaluating Digital Curriculum, a must-have guide to assist your district as you work toward streamlining your technical ecosystem in the new year.