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Framework for digital learning by Metiri Group
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Framework for Digital Learning

We’ve all been without a framework

Smith School District used to be pretty up-to-date, both with respect to their instructional practices and their technology tools. Recent budget shortfalls caused them to stagnate with respect to the tools available for teachers and students, putting limits on experiences that teachers are able to provide their students. The computer labs that used to be more than adequate now result in students sitting still, waiting for pages to load and programs to launch. A new superintendent started at the beginning of the school year. During the interview process, she spoke frequently about using the newest technology to prepare students for their future. Certainly a laudable goal, but she wouldn’t be the first superintendent to jump into a digital learning initiative without the type of planning that needs to occur for it to be a success. While a lengthy planning process can be frustrating as we all want tools in the hands of students as soon as possible, ignoring or rushing the planning process almost always results in an ineffective implementation. Many a district has rushed to implementation with no real consideration for a framework for digital learning, later having to backtrack to address issues or, worst case scenario, start over when they discover the chosen solution is not a good fit for their students and teachers, or the chosen solution isn’t tied to a larger framework that articulates the interconnected components of digital learning.

Metiri has a history of helping

Metiri Group has substantial experience working hand-in-hand with districts and schools to plan, implement, and assess digital learning initiatives. Our work has matured over time as tools have changed and as our collective understanding of how to best use the tools to enhance learning has developed. The result of our work is a framework that we use to ground our work. The framework has evolved over time to reflect the complexities of education institutions and the technology itself. The purpose of the framework is to provide schools and districts with a foundation to begin their own work with respect to planning and implementing digital learning initiatives.

What is digital learning?

First, we’ll start with defining digital learning. We used to talk at length about technology integration, which was generally defined as infusing technology tools seamlessly into teaching and learning (NCES, 2002). This often resulted in what we affectionately think of as research-and-a-PowerPoint. For a variety of reasons (e.g., teachers’ technology skill, hardware and software limitations, steep learning curves), technology integration often led to substituting technology tools for traditional tools. This was a good start but many years later, it is beyond time to move beyond substitution toward instruction that is impossible without the technology.

Digital learning is a more inclusive concept which encompasses not only the use of technology, but use of instructional tools and practices that enhance student learning. In an effective digital learning environment, technology tools are used to personalize learning; enhance communication and collaboration; provide authentic, deeper learning experiences; encourage higher order thinking and reasoning; and extend learning beyond the school walls. Rather than integrating technology into instruction, digital learning integrates learning into life.

What is the Metiri framework for Digital Learning? 

In a series of blogs over the next few weeks, we’ll present our framework to build understandings of all the interconnected components of digital learning. We hope this will help educators at all levels be able to think critically about their school or district’s efforts, and inform decisions regarding the use of digital tools to improve teaching and learning.

In the meantime, check out our tools to measure digital learning readiness and implementation.