A Digital Learning Inflection Point | John Watson | 3 Min Read

The past 15 months may have created an inflection point for digital learning for two related reasons. The first reason is the huge growth in awareness of online and hybrid learning created by the pandemic, which required essentially all schools to shift to remote learning. Even as we identify a distinction between true online/digital learning and remote emergency instruction, it is undeniably the case that tens of millions of teachers, students, and families now have far greater experience with online tools and resources than they did 15 months ago. Some of these experiences have been negative, but others have been positive. Even if, hypothetically, only a quarter of experiences were positive, that would still represent roughly a 10-fold increase in the number of students who have had a good experience with digital learning.

Tied to this first point, online schools and course providers have experienced huge enrollment increases. Therefore, the increase in exposure to online learning is not just due to students experiencing some version of emergency remote learning. Our preliminary research for the 2021 Digital Learning Snapshot suggests that the number of students enrolled in online schools or fully online courses has increased substantially, often by…

Register Now
You may use your member school or partner discount code !!!

John Watson

As Evergreen’s founder and primary researcher, John Watson is responsible for conducting, writing, and presenting research as well as providing testimony on digital learning matters to state boards of education, legislatures, and charter school commissions. He has extensive knowledge and experience based on his two decades working in online learning and education technology. This background has afforded him a wide-reaching network across the spectrum of education professionals, policymakers, and subject matter experts as well as the ability to provide insightful, dimensional analysis and recommendations. After earning his MBA and a MS in natural resource policy at the University of Michigan, John went to work for one of the first Learning Management System companies, eCollege, in early 1998. He launched eCollege’s K-12 division, called eClassroom, and managed eClassroom’s research and business development. This experience was the springboard for John’s independent consulting in environmental policy and education which evolved into what Evergreen Education Group is today. John is deeply moved by stories of students and teachers who have been positively impacted by technology in classrooms, online courses, and innovative schools. He strives to tell these stories accurately and to clearly explain the challenges inherent with digital learning in order to bring an honest, balanced perspective to Evergreen’s insight and recommendations. His ability to approach research and relationships with consideration for bias and hierarchy makes him a natural connector between information and people. John has presented and led panel discussions at numerous conferences and convenings. In addition to his research for Evergreen, John writes regularly about various issues related to digital learning and is a contributing author of the Handbook of Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning. His and Evergreen’s work has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Education Week, and eSchool News, and he has also appeared on NBC Nightly News.