Digital education survey


After the bell rings

Digital education outside the classroom

With the help of the digital transformation, meaningful learning that typically takes place in the classroom can now occur just about anywhere. Find out more about learning at the speed of technology.

Education technology—learning at our fingertips

Could technology be a spark igniting students’ passion to learn? Innovations in digital education are so enticing that today’s students are eager to continue learning after the bell rings.

This year, Deloitte’s Technology, Media, & Telecommunications (TMT) practice commissioned its inaugural Digital Education Survey (DES), to better understand the impact digital education is having on the education ecosystem. The findings from this survey indicate that 90 percent of students use digital learning materials at home and two-thirds start using these materials by the age of five.

While digital education (Dig Ed)—a blanket term for the use of digital devices1, materials2, and solutions3 in educational settings—is not a new concept, the way it is being used to bridge learning between home and school is relatively new. In fact, growing interest in Dig Ed generated an $8.4 billion market in 2013, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 9 percent through 2019.4

Our latest report proposes three main strategies to enhance the adoption of digital education outside the class:
  1. Prepare teachers
  2. Influence parents
  3. Engage students

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Digital education goes mainstream

Dig Ed materials and solutions—educational software, games, videos, podcasts and audiobooks, e-books, and magazines that are accessed through laptop and desktop computers, tablets, mobile phones, gaming systems, and even fitness tracking devices—are transforming the classroom. Our survey found that many teachers, parents, and students are embracing this evolution with enthusiasm. A majority of these stakeholders believe Dig Ed makes a positive difference in learning outcomes and experiences. At present, 80 percent of teachers use Dig Ed at least once a week; 75 percent believe digital content will completely replace print textbooks within the next decade.

US school districts are increasing their spending on educational hardware and software, online learning and learning management systems, using Dig Ed for new instructional approaches, personalized learning, mobile learning, and improved connectivity.5 Dig Ed not only provides a greater home/school connection, but also helps to combat the negative effects of “summer slide” on student performance. Dig Ed also helps continue the momentum over winter break.

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The evolution of digital education: Content to connections outside the classroom

Going outside of the classroom

While Dig Ed is increasingly common inside the classroom, Deloitte’s DES shows that nine out of 10 kids use electronic devices and digital learning materials outside school, and that this use starts early. More than 80 percent of parents and teachers are very or somewhat interested in having more at-home digital content to supplement school lessons, and 75 percent of students are interested in spending time learning more about the things they learn about in school outside of class. This interest, combined with the widespread availability of digital devices, lays the groundwork for potential sweeping change in education. Dig Ed is frequently used in the classroom to achieve a variety of goals.

Students who use digital technology to participate in school-related discussions and projects both in and out of class achieve better academic outcomes than those who participate only in class.6 So, everyone should be using Dig Ed right? While momentum is picking up, teachers site a lack of training on the software as a top reason not to adopt.

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Explore more in our 2016 Digital Education Survey

Opening the door to new opportunities

Preparing the teachers

DES findings show that teachers can influence decisions related to the choice of digital education solutions, both inside and outside the classroom. Many teachers are uniquely trusted by other teachers, parents, and students, and looked to for advice and opinions. Yet four in 10 teachers say that their own lack of training in education technology is one of the biggest barriers to increasing its use. Solution providers can play a key role in overcoming this barrier by encouraging teacher training and credentialing in Dig Ed tools and concepts.

Influencing the parents

Teachers might hold the power to influence, but when it comes to spending on digital education products and services outside the classroom, parents make the final call. Even if they are issued by school, use of digital education requires parents’ consent. For parents, solution providers could adopt a two-pronged approach.

First, the security and privacy of student data represents a challenge. Many parents have raised concerns about the misuse of students’ personal data. Much is being done to address such concerns through data anonymization and other approaches.

Secondly, educational technology solutions can be made more attractive to parents by specifically tying them to benefits that matter, such as making learning more interesting, or allowing students who have mastered a topic to move on without waiting for others to catch up. Showing educational technology in action could help. By placing Dig Ed in potential co-learning spaces (such as maker labs, libraries, or mall kiosks), companies can allow parents to experience the benefits themselves.

Engaging the students

Competing for many students’ time and attention has become an uphill battle, due to the onslaught of digital platforms, gadgets, and entertainment avenues. Research shows that Generation Z students have shorter attention spans and an increased tendency to multitask, making it tougher to engage them.7

So how can we earn a share of the student’s time and motivation? One way is through what’s been called “gamification,” giving students a chance to earn rewards for participation. In the era of video games, competition can be feverish for intangibles such as virtual currency, badges, and unlockables.

But some games succeed because they offer players a chance to socialize, which can be a tangible reward for kids in itself.8 An educational game that allows students to hang out with friends will likely draw more kids than one played in isolation. Unsurprisingly, the DES indicates that a chance to spend time with friends is the second-strongest motivation for kids to participate in summer learning.

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While many digital education players have been focused on delivering engaging content to the classroom, the next big opportunity may lie in connecting the same concepts to the world outside the class. Ongoing enhancements in technology, platforms, and interfaces that can promise convenience, security, and engagement can engender greater penetration for digital education solutions outside the class. Enabling the teachers through training, credentialing, and offering toolkits to model real-life situations can increase their usage and support of Dig Ed solution.

Similarly, secure Dig Ed solutions earmarked with clear opt-in policies and tangible benefits could help in winning the trust of parents. Developing solutions that empower students and allow them to learn, have fun, collaborate, and earn rewards at the same time will likely gain their attention. Many Dig Ed players have a huge opportunity—right now, today—to move digital education outside the classroom by making teachers ready, showing parents clear benefits, and engaging the student through the technologies, games, and apps they already love. To discuss solutions and capitalize on extending the next wave of digital education from content to connections, both inside and outside the classroom, contact us at

Continue the conversation on Twitter @DeloitteTMT and use hashtag #digedtrends


1Digital learning materials include: educational software or apps, educational games, educational videos, educational audio (e.g., podcasts, audiobooks), research sources (e.g., online news) eBooks, eMagazines, eTextbooks, simulations / virtual reality (e.g., virtual science labs).

2Devices include: tablets, phablets, mobile phones, eReaders, laptops, desktop computers, gaming devices (handheld and consoles), interactive whiteboards, digital audio devices (e.g., iPods, mp3 players), televisions, fitness tracking devices (e.g., Jumpy, Fitbits, etc.).

3Digital education solutions includes devices and digital learning materials used in the context of learning.

4Technavio, Education Technology Market in North America, May 2016,

5MDR, “Research Finds K-12 Hardware and Software Budgets Continue to Rise,” January 2016,

6Cynthia Nalevanko, “Technology Extends Learning and Engagement Outside of the Classroom,” Sage Connection, November 25, 2015, http://connection.

7Leonid Bershidsky, “Here Comes Generation Z,” Bloomberg View, June 18, 2014,; and Deloitte, Digital Democracy Survey, 10th edition,

8Nick Stockton, “The Psychology of How Pokémon Go Gets Inside Your Brain,” Wired, July 12, 2016,

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