digital citizenship week ISTE

Students want more digital learning outside of the classroom

New survey reveals how digital learning expectations are changing

The need for digital learning content in classrooms is nothing new, but teachers, parents, and students are becoming more vocal in their desire to provide or have access to such materials outside of the school day or school year.

Deloitte‘s inaugural 2016 Digital Education Survey surveyed teachers, students and parents to uncover how technology is changing the concept of the classroom.


Forty-two percent of surveyed teachers said at least one digital device is used each day, and 75 percent said they believe digital content will replace printed textbooks in the next 10 years.

The top five devices used at least weekly in the classroom are:

  • Laptops (56 percent)
  • Desktops (54 percent)
  • Tablets (51 percent)
  • Interactive whiteboards (45 percent)
  • Smartphones (28 percent)

In a typical week, teachers use online educational videos (67 percent), educational apps or software (65 percent), websites for research (56 percent), or content- or skill-specific games (52 percent).

Next page: Students explain their desire for more digital learning outside of the classroom

Eighty-one percent of surveyed teachers who have 10 or fewer years of teaching experience said they believe technology makes a positive difference on learning, but 4 in 10 surveyed teachers said their school is behind the curve when it comes to technology adoption.

Surveyed teachers put lots of faith in technology, but their actual technology use doesn’t always keep up with their beliefs, the survey reveals:

  • Using technology to make learning more interesting: 79 percent of teachers said they believe technology makes a big difference, but just 57 percent use is regularly to accomplish that outcome
  • Using technology to provide learning opportunities outside the classroom: 74 percent believe it can make a big difference, though just 33 percent regularly use it to accomplish that outcome
  • Using technology to encourage students to collaborate even when not together: 59 percent of teachers said technology can make a difference, but just 26 percent regularly use it to accomplish that outcome
  • Using technology to provide feedback to students when school is not in session: 64 percent believe technology can help, but only 25 percent of teachers regularly use it to accomplish that outcome

Funding and training remain barriers to technology adoption, with 87 percent of surveyed teachers reporting financial pressures, and 61 percent citing classroom integration issues. Forty-one percent of teachers said there is a lack of education technology training.

The top three reasons teachers choose digital learning materials include student engagement (74 percent), to have more fun and provide entertaining materials (61 percent), and to develop student skills (60 percent).


Students’ classroom device preferences seem to vary by age. Grades K-2 students prefer tablets (53 percent) to laptops (15 percent); grades 3-5 students prefer tablets (36 percent) to laptops (26 percent); grades 6-8 are more evenly split, with 30 percent of students preferring tablets and 29 percent preferring laptops; and grades 9-12 prefer laptops (37 percent) to tablets (25 percent).

Seventy-five percent of surveyed students said they are interested in spending time learning more about school-related subjects when they’re not in school.

Students’ top three motivations for learning outside the classroom include having the chance to learn more things (40 percent), doing fun assignments (39 percent), and meeting parents’ expectations.


The survey also touches on the gap between in-school and after-school learning. Eighty-eight percent of parents and 84 percent of teachers would like to have more at-home digital content available to supplement what students learn in school.

Parents are most willing to be lenient on screen-time limits for educational digital activities when students are watching videos (81 percent), using apps (80 percent), and playing video games (68 percent).

The survey includes more than 2,800 responses from demographically diverse PreK-12 public and private teachers, parents of children under age 18, and grades K-12 students.

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Laura Ascione

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