Many credit the pandemic for the digital transformation of education. However, technology and classroom instruction have long been intertwined. Think correspondence courses from the 1900s, which needed a reliable national postal service to ferry materials and reports back and forth.
In 2017-2018, 58.9% of U.S. high schools offered courses online. In 2020, 77% of public schools offered online distance learning, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As more public school districts offer virtual classes, it’s important to take a look at how this digital transformation is impacting education, especially high schools.
High school is a pivotal juncture for students, whether they’re entering the workforce or continuing their education at postsecondary institutions. How technology shapes curriculum, instruction and, ultimately, learning in high school is crucial for the future success of students and schools alike.
In this article you will takeaway the following about digital transformation in high schools:
- A clear understanding of why digital transformation matters for high school administrators, educators, parents and students.
- The impact digital transformation trends have on high school learning.
- How high schools can benefit from digital transformation.
- Advantages of a digital unified records management system as it relates to lifelong learning.
Digital transformation in education: What it is and why it’s important
Digital transformation in education relates to the use of technology as a tool for all aspects of learning
including classroom instruction, curriculum development, student assessment, program evaluation and school operations.
There have been many important changes to the education sector from the greater integration of technology into the classroom, such as:
- Including technology in K12 education (e.g. STEM).
- Enhanced personalized learning in the classroom and online.
- Adoption of learning management software to create curriculum, teach and evaluate student learning.
- Wider use of virtual courses in real-time and on-demand.
- Leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) for school operations and student learning.
Technology is changing education as it changes society. Students swipe a screen instead of turn pages, Google instead of asking a librarian and Zoom with educators in other countries. Gone are the days when computers were optional to a lesson plan. The use of digital technology in education today is ubiquitous. Adults are charged with teaching students healthy habits around tech use, how to curb antisocial behavior (e.g., cyberbullying) and protect sensitive information that can impact the students’ future. With great technology comes great responsibility.
Technology trends impact on high schools
We are all aware that students live and breathe technology but high schools still have to adapt and adopt robust, evolving technologies. Technology enmeshes students in the world — connects them with their teachers, other students, subject matter experts, live scientific research, social movements near and far and so much more. The following are ways that high schools can leverage technology for greater student outcomes and a better high school experience.
Digitization offers new ways to teach and learn
The majority of us are familiar with the potential for streamlining processes with technology. Similarly, technology enables high schools to reduce the administrative burden on teachers and offer a variety of remote education modalities for the first time in history.
Today, teachers can use file sharing software like Google Classroom to aid instruction, assessment, communication and grading. Online school is held in real time but over online video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Meet. Teachers are able to use break out functionality to keep students’ conversations going while they provide one-on-one help. Virtual classes are focused, pre-recorded lessons accompanied with online interactive tools for learning and mastery. Virtual courses are convenient and engaging for students and the teachers that create them. The other remote education modality is a blended learning approach that uses virtual instruction, online classes and in-person learning to meet the sometimes conflicting needs of students, schools and the wider community.
Personal computers to personalized learning
The personal computer changed everything for business and everyday life. More recently, the use of dedicated devices has transformed the passive teacher-to-student paradigm into active, student-led learning. Today, personalized learning is not so much about teaching a subject in different ways for different learners and more about including a student in their education from planning to assessment because with the aid of technology, high school students can be more independent and self-directed than ever before.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics
STEM recognized the invaluable role that computers play in society and the economy and the critical need to train the next generation of tech and engineering leaders. More recently, in recognition of innovation as a driver of economic growth an additional letter — ‘a’ for art — was added to STEM to make it STEAM. For high school curriculum to meet the demand for developing innovative minds, they’ll need to consider software for artistic expression. Also, access to online libraries, 3D printing, virtual reality exploration enable students to develop new lines of inquiry for themselves in ways that weren’t possible with one teacher in a classroom.
The benefits of digital transformation for high school students
Students benefit from educational technology in a multitude of ways. Here are five main ways students win when technology becomes integral to learning.
- Students gain a modern skill set that positions them competitively in any field they choose to pursue.
- Student experience improves with the use of devices and leading-edge technology (e.g., virtual reality) to gain mastery of a subject.
- Students practice prosocial behavior by staying connected to each other and the world around them when they use communication technology in an educational setting.
- Students’ achievements are tracked and shared more readily with a credential management system that is connected to a school’s learning management system.
- Students receive more focused and targeted instruction from their teachers who are freed up by technology that manages file sharing, recording completed assignments and other classroom management tasks.
Click on the image below to view the infographic of the benefits of digital transformation.
Core elements of a successful digital transformation in high school
A major challenge to the digital transformation at any high school is alignment with school district funding. It’s critical that high schools reach the appropriate technological capacity — management systems, machines, broadband, training and technological support — to reap the benefits of digitization. Let’s consider a few core elements of a high school that has fully embraced a digital transformation.
Educational tech stack
High schools need a secure, robust and cost-effective technology infrastructure to support remote schooling. It’s important to have a learning management system like Google Classroom, video conferencing and a records management system that is connected to your district’s system.
Technology boosts personalized learning. Thanks, in part, to the digital transformation of K12 education, crafting a curriculum around a student’s strengths and weaknesses is even easier to do. Personalized learning in the context of the digital age uses data and content to help students become more engaged in what they are learning because technology helps teachers to know that students are meeting learning standards and students to interact with subject matter and assignments in more flexible and meaningful ways.
Even if personalized learning is not the goal of your public or private high school, technology gives teachers the option to employ strategies such as self-assessment and goal setting, personalized learning plans, project-based learning and others to teach a topic or standard in different ways. Digital learning might employ the following technological tools to achieve a better student experience and educational outcomes:
- Gamified learning apps that motivate individual, peer-to-peer or team competition using virtual points or badges for what’s known as PBLs (points, badges, leaderboards).
- Webinars have been around for a while but multimedia instructional videos on specific topics or standards accessible to students at all times are still handy today.
- Chat tools allow a teacher to capture questions and capitalize on discussions without stopping the flow of a lesson online. It’s also a great way for quieter students to participate or ask a question without having to raise their hand literally or virtually, and stop the discussion. The Google Meet chat function and others like Mentimeter or Backchannel Chat are web-, iOS- and Android-friendly.
- Crowdsourcing tools that encourage place-based learning and connect their findings to the larger world using technology that shares photos or video. An example of this is the mobile-enabled Project Noah for exploration and discovery of the natural world.
- Digital boards for sharing and interacting with content (e.g., blog, video, infographic or photo) open up learning to discussion and deeper understanding.
- Graphic design software is one of the most useful tools for students to engage and have more fun with any topic or assignment.
A core element of successful digital education is student engagement and motivation. Technology is the tool that teachers and parents can use to encourage and nurture curiosity and love of learning in students.
Student information system
Online learning involves a lot of devices — desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, smartwatches and tablets. Collecting, storing and analyzing all those data points in one place is the only way to manage big sets of data. A student information system (SIS) is the most effective way to achieve a digital transformation at your high school and school district.
Before the digital transformation of education, how did administrators and educators evaluate the experience they provided? Data analysis can provide the insight decision-makers at your school need to wisely use their budget, assess the schools overall performance, make changes to improve student learning and prepare for potential systemic problems using quantitative and qualitative information.
A SIS provides data management for school administrators but also offers functionality for teachers, parents and students. Parchment’s District Records Services integrate with SISs to automate the transcript management process and ensure that your students can demonstrate the outcomes of their learning. Administrators have a centralized place for requests for verification of graduation, recommendation letters, transcripts and end-to-end tracking of transcript fulfillment. SIS integrations ensure that web-based education at your high school can expand, evolve and pivot without being held back by your technology.
Safe and secure web-based education
Protecting student information is vital to comply with federal and state regulations concerning minors’ privacy. That’s why the digital transformation of education must include rules and processes for protecting certain student information and providing access to that same information (i.e., birthdate, address, full name) for authorized purposes.
High schools with a Student Records System and a Student Information System need to ensure their education tech stack is impenetrable. Also, stored data sets (i.e., years of grades or test scores) need to be recoverable if the system is to be functional. For a system with the greatest security and accessibility, high schools often look to cloud-enabled SIS with an application programming interface that will integrate with future curriculum, management and information systems software.
The security of your high school data is the responsibility of educators, parents and students. Here are just a few ways that all three groups can keep sensitive information secure according to the UC Berkeley Extension program:
- Install virus protection on all devices — laptops, tablets and desktop computers — that runs regular virus scans.
- Encrypt information over the internet with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on any WiFi.
- Use strong passwords and never share them with anyone.
- Keep software up-to-date.
- Log out whenever you step away from your computer.
- Password-protect folders and files that contain private information for greater security.
- Follow your IT administrator’s cyber security best practices for your school.
Related to a safe and secure digital transformation in education is the concept of digital citizenship, which in an educational context encompasses the following:
- How to share information on digital platforms like social and video media.
- How to interact on digital platforms inside and outside of high school.
- A digital curriculum that includes safe and healthy habits around respectful online interactions, safeguarding their identity, usage habits, media literacy and digital footprint (i.e., online persona).
A successful digital transformation at your high school will embrace how technology can help educators to better prepare for the future and its unpredictable challenges.
Learn how Parchment can help your high school in its digital transformation journey
Parchment spends a lot of time thinking of ways to turn K12 education credentials into lifelong learning opportunities. The digital age introduced new ways for high schools to play a larger role in their past, present and future students’ lives. Together, high schools and Parchment’s district records services will perpetuate the importance a high school credential has on student success in life.
If you’re interested in learning more about the power of digital transformation in education and the benefits our unified student and alumni records management service can provide your high school, start the conversation with Parchment. Our District Records Service allows you to streamline your student records management, help students find a great-fit college, verify records and digitize your records simply and securely.