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2021 was a year of continued challenges for the K-12 industry—but also growing hope and optimism for the future.  The numerous challenges of 2020 receded but were not completely addressed or resolved. By the middle of the 2020-21 school year, districts around the country brought K-12 students back into schools in fully face-to-face settings, or hybrid blends of in-person and remote.  Steps that were taken quickly in spring of 2020, with little ability to plan or optimize, were improved later that summer and fall.  The availability of devices within schools continued to grow, as did adoption of learning management systems and digital curriculum at all grade levels.  These evolutions lay a solid foundation for continued growth of digital learning into the foreseeable future.

Digital Divide in Focus

There were many notable developments across the K-12 market throughout 2021.  First, COVID-19 has driven significantly increased recognition across the nation of the Digital Divide.  This has led to further commitment to the provision of digital skills instruction as an important “third leg of the stool” when attacking the Digital Divide (along with universal access to devices and broadband connectivity).

As a result, the U.S. federal government, in various stimulus bills, has targeted billions of dollars toward, increasing the teaching of digital skills.  And recently, 94% of U.S. K-12 teachers surveyed cited COVID as increasing the need to teach their students digital skills…yet only 39% of teachers believed their school is doing this well.

Notable Trends

In our work around the nation, we’ve also seen continuation of trends which were in place before the advent of COVID-19, with increasing attention being paid to the importance of digital skills such as coding, online safety, and information literacy.  At the national ASU-GSV conference in August 2021, there was more discussion of these topics this year than at any of the prior ASU-GSV conferences I’ve attended over the years:

  • “Teaching critical (information) consumption must start in elementary school,” according to a  of February 2021 report by Getting Smart and EduInnovation;
  • A report projected that tech workforce shortages will cost U.S. businesses $162 billion by 2030
  • In October, a survey commissioned by the University of Phoenix found that “desire to improve technology skills plays a role in 89% of adult learners’ decisions to pursue a college degree”
  • In March, it was reported that there were 400+ publicly reported cyber security incidents at K-12 schools/districts in 2020, significantly up from prior years; and
  • Educators continue grappling with Stanford University researchers’ findings that 96% of high school students are unprepared to judge the credibility of information on the internet.

At Learning.com, we are encouraged by the increasing attention to these developments.  We work with school districts and states around the country to pursue our mission of preparing students for success in our digital world.  For over 20 years, we have worked with tens of thousands of schools and millions of students each year, providing award-winning, adaptive, standards-aligned lessons and application exercises in critical digital skill areas such as keyboarding, online safety, information literacy, coding, and more.

A Year of Gratitude

We deeply appreciate the continued and long-time support of our school, district and state partners—as evidenced by record retention and expansion performance this year.  2021 brought our strongest growth in a number of years, and our highest profitability in at least a decade.   Our team worked tirelessly during 2021 (while continuing to adjust to our own remote-work environment) to develop important new advancements for our customers—additional K-2 content, especially in the areas of online safety and information literacy, and important updates modernizing our Teacher Center, and improving ease of use.

We are inspired by the expressions of gratitude and recognition that we hear from the educators we serve:

“Both EasyTech and EasyCode Pillars make learning gains in technology fun for students and leave them wanting to learn more!”

Deborah P Berman, B.A, M.B.A., Sarasota County Schools

 

“The customer service at Learning.com needs to be mentioned. They have provided us with total assistance in integrating the technology within our courses and are consistently available to our teachers and administration.”

—Courtney Kavanaugh, Seminole County Public Schools

Thank you to all of those who continue to work to serve K-12 students across the nation, and who continue to recognize the importance of preparing our students for success in the digital world.  Happy Holidays, and we look forward to working with you in the new year!