An annual report from Speak Up has detailed the emergence of pixel based digital tools in the classroom, and specifically videos, games, animations and simulations, as a way to engage students in the learning process.
The report, "From Print to Pixel: The Role of Videos, Games, Animations and Simulations Within K-12 Education," considered the views of 415,686 K-12 students, 38,613 teachers and librarians, 4,536 administrators, 40,218 parents and 6,623 community members representing over 7,600 schools and 2,600 districts both in the United States and across the globe.
Three aspects of the new phenomenon are considered within the report. First, researchers considered what is causing schools to move from print to pixel, and how teachers and students are then using the digital tools within their classrooms, including self-directed learning by students both before and after school hours. Also considered are future uses for these digital tools in the education field.
"I believe that in 2020 all of my classes will have online resources, and be almost completely digital. We will still attend school and interact but it will not be on paper, it will be on the computer. We will be able to find our own resources to learn from as well as what the teacher gives us." – Male student, 10th grade, Virginia
According to the report, the education sector is continuously looking for ways to make use of digital resources as ways to both enhance student learning as well as teacher productivity. The use of such tools has seen constant growth year over year. While just 30% of high school students reported having used an online textbook as part of their regular classroom activities in 2005, that number rose to 46% in 2015, a growth of over 53% from 2005.
Teachers' use of videos in the classroom saw even faster growth. As a way to stimulate class discussions and bring real world content to their students, 47% of teachers saying they had used online videos as part of their instructional practices in 2012, compared to 68% today.
The authors go on to say that the move to digital may be best seen through the level of "paperless-ness" in schools. Close to 60% of technology leaders reported around one-fourth of all instructional materials used in their schools to be digital this year, and 26% considered their level of paperless-ness to be at 50%.
"I think that schools will be completely paperless in 5 years. There will be a lot more online classes for younger generations. I think that a lot of learning children do will be through the medium of the Internet or interactive apps/games." – Female student, 12th grade, Wisconsin
In addition, 82% of district administrators felt their districts had implemented a variety of digital content and online resources, with five out of ten administrators saying that such implementation was already yielding positive results in student outcomes. In terms of game-based learning environments, 40% of administrators said their classrooms now offer digital games as learning tools, a higher number than the 1:1 tablet programs in classrooms, which came in at 33%.