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Leveraging Digital Content to Differentiate Learning

March 01, 2017


How are schools and districts using digital content? And is it making a difference in classrooms across the U.S.? New research and resulting data from Project Tomorrow and DreamBox Learning provides greater understanding in this new era of personalized learning and differentiated instruction.

Digital Content is Driving Greater Personalization in More Classrooms Nationwide

There are an increasing number of innovative school and district administrators using digital content to address the learning needs of all students. In tandem, education leaders, policymakers, and parents are embracing personalized learning as a key component for student success. Here are a few highlights from the research data that show how significantly momentum is growing:

  • Growing acceptance of individualized education plans. In fall 2015, one-third of school and district leaders nationwide say that developing an individualized education plan for each student that includes personalized and differentiated learning paths is the best way to improve student academic achievement. In 2010, only one-fifth of education leaders said the same.
  • A majority of principals say digital content works for personalization. Sixty percent of school principals say that a primary benefit of using digital content within instruction is that it provides an efficient and effective way to personalize learning for each student. This represents a 33 percent increase in the number of principals sharing this belief compared to 2009.
  • Student data drives positive academic results. The impact of using digital content to personalize learning also involves enhanced access to information about students’ strengths and weaknesses. According to 69 percent of district administrators, using student performance data to inform instruction results in positive academic results within their district classrooms.

This infographic includes results of a survey of 35,909 teachers across the U.S.

Teachers Are Using 70 Percent More Digital Content in the Classroom

Teachers are increasingly using a wide variety of digital content within classroom instruction, especially when compared to just a few years ago. For example, the number of teachers using digital curriculum within their classroom jumped over 70 percent in just three years. Teachers’ use of game-based learning environments has also experienced significant growth, especially among elementary teachers.

Insights Administrators Can Use to Increase Efficacy of Digital Learning Environments

The goal of the study was to provide education leaders with new insights into the use of digital content to differentiate instruction, and what additional supports increase the efficacy of that type of learning environment. These insights are from the results of the research:

  • The regularity of teacher usage of digital content increases teachers’ familiarity with the solutions and their self-confidence to be effective with those resources.
  • While the amount and regularity of usage certainly matters, what is more important is how teachers are using the digital content resources. The key objective for administrators is therefore to support teachers’ use of digital content to purposefully personalize and differentiate instruction for each student.
  • To be able to differentiate instruction effectively, teachers need access to high-quality digital content that not only provides meaningful student experiences, but also provides the teacher with timely data and information to understand students’ progress paths, strengths, and areas for remediation.
  • Professional learning plays an increasingly critical role in this process. The best professional learning to support teachers’ use of digital content to differentiate instruction is that which is bolstered by a school or district culture that is laser-focused on creating optimal environments for student learning.


Learn More About Digital Content and Differentiation

The journey to digital transformation is an important one, and you can never have enough resources or tools. DreamBox provides many free tools, including:


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