Decoding Learning: The Proof, Promise and Potential of Digital Education
No technology has an impact on learning on its own: success depends on how it is used.
- Digital technologies do offer opportunities to transform learning and teaching. However, despite significant investment, we have no strong evidence of this transformation taking place.
- Decoding Learning shows that technology can have an impact on learning outcomes - if it is used to support powerful learning acts* such as learning through making, learning through inquiry and learning from assessment.
- Using digital technologies to link and embed different approaches to learning can produce a richer learning experience
- Context matters: in order to collect useful evidence about technology or understand successful innovations, one has to consider the context in which they are used.
- The report identifies over 200 innovations that show evidence of promise and potential for successful learning - see the list of 150 example innovations judged by our expert panel.
Recommendations for change
To realise the potential of using digital technologies as a teaching tool we must:
- Focus on the learning activity not technology - no single piece of technology is a 'silver bullet' for education. Focussing on the learning activities that a piece of technology can support is a good way to make better use of what we've got.
- Support the teacher - to achieve the full potential of using digital technologies in learning, teachers need support and training.
- Link home, school and the community - one of the major benefits of technology its ability to turn the world into a learning place. Technology such as cloud computing and mobile devices means learning need not stop at the school gates.
Gaps in innovation
Decoding Learning reveals several gaps in innovation, where few widely available products support many powerful learning activities - filling these gaps represents both an educational and commercial opportunity. Examples include:
- Formative assessment - analytic tools and data management can provide learners and teachers with detailed feedback about their performance as they learn - which is a powerful way to personalise and assist learning.
- Expert Tutorial - one to one tuition remains one of the most successful ways of learning; conferencing software and adaptive technologies offer opportunities to recreate that tutorial conversation at scale.
- Structured collaboration - online tools can be useful for linking teachers and students, but many research-driven innovations have yet to make their way into the classroom, creating an opportunity for developers and teachers alike.
Next Steps: Link industry, research and practice
For Nesta, the most powerful recommendation from the report was the need to bring teachers, researchers and industry together to create new learning products and services aligned to successful learning themes. Nesta aims to be instrumental in facilitating this dialogue and championing effective innovations to schools everywhere.