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2022-2023 WI Digital Learning Survey Results by District Size

DPI is pleased to present the state-level digital learning data (2022-23 school year) for K-12 public schools in Wisconsin! DPI has compiled the survey responses from about 86% of Wisconsin school districts. School district participation was voluntary and greatly appreciated!

On this page, you will find charts that represent a cross-section of the survey questions included in the Digital Learning Survey. The charts are inclusive of all five gears of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan and include a brief explanation of the data shown. This is the sixth year of the longitudinal survey and the data within can be leveraged to identify trends.  Archived versions of previous surveys can be found in the menu on the left of the page.

***Data from the 2020-2021 survey contains information provided by districts during a year that included COVID-19. The data from this survey may be affected by this event, but it is still very valuable to use while analyzing local district planning and programming. Many Wisconsin districts have modified the learning experience in their schools and that shift may be reflected in the survey data provided during that year.

Hover over each chart to view the exact numbers of each data subset.


Gear 1: Instruction, Learning, and Assessment

The Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan Gear 1 focuses on instruction, learning, and assessment. The aim of Gear 1 is to promote effective and engaging teaching and learning, which is supported by instructional technology.

Instruction: The Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan recognizes that instruction needs to be tailored to meet the needs of each individual student. It encourages teachers to use technology to create engaging, interactive, and personalized learning experiences for their students. The Plan also emphasizes the importance of teacher professional development to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively integrate technology into instruction.

Learning: The Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan promotes the use of technology to enhance student learning. It encourages the use of digital tools and resources that can provide students with opportunities to think critically, collaborate, create, and communicate with others. The Plan also recognizes the importance of providing students with equitable access to technology to support their learning.

Assessment: The Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan recognizes the potential of technology to transform assessment practices. It encourages the use of digital tools to create assessments that are more engaging, meaningful, and aligned with learning objectives. The Plan also emphasizes the importance of providing students with timely and constructive feedback on their learning.

Gear 1 of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan aims to leverage technology to create more engaging, effective, and personalized teaching and learning experiences, while also ensuring that all students have access to the technology they need to succeed.

The above chart shows that districts, no matter the size, leverage a wide variety of tools and resources to support their online/digital learning opportunities.  The trends in the longitudinal data are slight but significant.  There are no longer ANY school districts reporting that they don't utilize any of these tools or resources.  Also, mid-sized Wisconsin districts report using more structured online courses for their students than ever before.  Also of note, is an increase (from last year) in the amount of large Wisconsin districts utilizing state provided databases like Badgerlink.   

There are two different categories of Virtual Learning Time (VLT).  The first category is the use of online virtual digital learning on a regular basis.  This could include fully virtual, blended, or hybrid learning.  Blended learning and hybrid learning are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between them.

Blended learning, also known as "mixed-mode learning," is an educational approach that combines online learning with traditional classroom instruction. In a blended learning environment, students are required to complete a portion of their coursework online, either individually or in a group, and the remaining coursework is completed in a face-to-face setting, often in a classroom.

Hybrid learning, on the other hand, is a more flexible form of learning that combines online and face-to-face instruction in a more fluid manner. In a hybrid learning environment, students can choose to attend classes in person or online, depending on their individual needs or preferences. Hybrid learning often relies on video conferencing technology to allow students to participate in classroom instruction from a remote location.

The above graph illustrates that the majority of districts of all sizes are utilizing online VLT in this manner.  However, in comparison to last year's data, fewer districts in all size categories are reporting this type of VLT usage. 

The second category of VLT requires districts to have a plan in place that leverages innovative instructional design for any type of inclement situation, creative calendar options, or innovative programming.  These could include, but are not limited to, inclement weather closure, less heating days for the school building, a maintenance issue that causes the physical school building to be inaccessible, days when only ACT testing students are at the school, etc.  This type of VLT is not long-term remote learning but rather short-term continuity of learning. 

As you can see from the above graph, this type of VLT is most commonly utilized in Wisconsin's largest school districts.

Gear 2: Technology, Networking and Hardware

Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan Gear 2 focuses on the technology, networking, and hardware necessary to support digital learning in Wisconsin. Here are some key aspects of Gear 2:

Technology infrastructure: The plan emphasizes the need for high-speed, reliable internet connections and robust network infrastructure to support digital learning. Schools and districts must ensure that their networks can handle the increased bandwidth demands of online learning.

Device access: The plan calls for providing students with access to digital devices, such as laptops or tablets, to support digital learning. Schools and districts must ensure that students have access to appropriate devices and that those devices are reliable and up-to-date.

Digital content and resources: The plan emphasizes the need for high-quality, accessible digital content and resources to support digital learning. Schools and districts must ensure that students have access to digital resources that are aligned with their curricula and that support their learning needs.

While districts of every size in Wisconsin report having an integrated professional learning plan for staff to support effective and engaging instructional practices or digitally rich classroom environments with access to devices, it appears that this practice is more prevalent as the districts become larger.  The largest districts in Wisconsin report that half of them have these types of plans in place to support their staff in the use of the technology, network, and hardware available to them and their students. 

Developing an integrated professional learning plan for staff to support a digitally rich classroom environment involves a systematic approach to ensure that educators are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to use digital tools effectively in teaching and learning.  These such plans require identifying learning goals, accessing current knowledge, developing a curriculum, selecting appropriate training methods, creating a schedule, providing resources and support, and evaluating the professional learning plan. 

High-speed broadband at home is crucial for K-12 students in many ways. In today's increasingly digital world, internet access has become a necessary tool for education as online learning has become a vital part of the educational landscape. Without high-speed broadband, students may miss out on critical learning opportunities and struggle to keep up with their coursework.   While this graph shows that the majority of students in every size district in Wisconsin have access to usable internet, there is an inequity for those who still do not.  The state of Wisconsin continues to work diligently to make affordable, high-speed broadband internet access available to all students no matter their district size.

Gear 3: Empowering and Innovative Leadership

The third gear of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan is "Empowering and Innovative Leadership." This gear focuses on the importance of leadership in implementing and sustaining digital learning initiatives in schools.

To effectively implement digital learning, schools need strong leaders who are knowledgeable about the benefits and challenges of technology integration. Leaders must be able to create a culture that supports digital learning and provides the necessary resources for success. They must also be able to collaborate with stakeholders, including teachers, students, parents, and community members, to ensure that digital learning meets the needs of all learners.

The above graph shows that the majority of districts in Wisconsin with 500 or more students report to have a Digital Learning Plan in place OR are currently working on a district Digital Learning Plan.

Digital Learning Plans are a framework by which districts can lay out their priorities for 21st century learning.  Digital learning plans help to ensure that all students have access to high-quality education, regardless of their location or socio-economic background. In Wisconsin, where there are many rural and remote areas, digital learning plans can help bridge the gap between students who live in urban areas and those who live in more isolated regions. 

Digital learning plans can also help school districts meet the needs of diverse learners, including those with special needs, those who are gifted and talented, and those who are English language learners. By using digital tools and resources, teachers can differentiate instruction to meet the needs of individual students.  

In addition, Digital learning plans help prepare students for the future by supporting the teaching and learning of essential skills such as digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving. These skills are becoming increasingly important in the 21st century workforce and are necessary for success in college and beyond.  

Digital learning plans can also assist in making learning more engaging and interactive for students. By incorporating multimedia content, simulations, and interactive activities, teachers can create a more dynamic and engaging learning experience that is more likely to hold students' attention. 

Lastly, Digital learning plans can help teachers be more effective by providing them with access to a wider range of resources and tools. By using digital platforms for lesson planning, collaboration, and communication, teachers can streamline their workflow and improve their effectiveness in the classroom.  

Gear 4: Professional Learning and Building Capacity

Gear 4 of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan focuses on professional learning and building capacity. The goal of this gear is to provide educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively integrate technology into the classroom, improve student learning outcomes, and support the development of digital citizenship skills in their students.  At the district level, this goal is achieved by providing ongoing professional learning opportunities, developing and supporting teacher leaders, encouraging collaboration and sharing, integrating technology into pre-service and in-service teacher education,and providing access to instructional technology tools and digital resources. 

The smallest and the largest school districts in Wisconsin report that half (or more) of their districts ensure that >25% of their teaching staff spend at least 15 hours per year on professional learning in technology or technology integration. (see graph above) This time could include coaching sessions or coaching cycles with a district technology integrator, a technology mentor, or library staff.  With the implementation of professional learning in the area of instructional technology, Wisconsin can build the capacity of its educators to nurture crucial 21st century skills in the students with whom they work.

Three of the four district size ranges surveyed had an increase in the percentage of districts who are using micro-credentialing within their current professional learning programs and/or salary schedules over the past year.  This is consistent with trending across the nation in this area.  

Micro-credentialing for teachers has become a popular trend in the United States over the past few years. Micro-credentials are digital badges or certifications that teachers can earn by demonstrating mastery of a specific skill or competency. These credentials are often offered by professional organizations, universities, and ed-tech companies.

One of the main reasons for the rise in popularity of micro-credentialing is that it provides teachers with a way to demonstrate their expertise in specific areas, which can be particularly useful when applying for new job opportunities or seeking career advancement. Micro-credentials are often more focused and targeted than traditional professional development opportunities, which can make them more appealing to educators who want to improve their skills in a specific area.

In addition, micro-credentialing can be a more flexible and personalized way for teachers to learn and develop new skills. Teachers can choose which micro-credentials to pursue based on their own interests and needs, and they can often complete the requirements for earning a micro-credential on their own schedule.

Another factor contributing to the popularity of micro-credentialing is the growing recognition of the importance of personalized and competency-based learning. Micro-credentials align well with this approach, as they allow educators to demonstrate mastery of specific competencies and skills.

The trend of micro-credentialing for teachers shows no signs of slowing down, as more and more educators are seeking out these opportunities to improve their skills and advance their careers.

Professional Learning Opportunities With the Highest Impact on Student Learning

The table above shows the percentage of districts in each district population range that placed that particular professional learning opportunity in the top 5 they use to have the highest impact on student learning.  Professional learning that involves collaboration with colleagues seems to be favored among those surveyed.  Collaboration is one of the essential skills needed for success in the 21st Century according to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21), a network of Battelle for Kids, with input from teachers, education experts, and business leaders.  Modeling these skills for students will support their ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world, to work effectively in diverse and complex environments, and to innovate and create new solutions to complex problems.

Gear 5: Data and Privacy

The fifth gear of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan is data and privacy. This gear addresses the important issue of safeguarding student data and ensuring student privacy in the use of digital tools and resources.

In the context of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan, the focus is on creating policies, procedures, and guidelines to ensure that student data is collected, used, and stored securely and that student privacy is protected in the use of digital tools and resources.

The key strategies for achieving the goals of the data and privacy gear include the following:

Develop and implement policies and procedures for data privacy and security: Schools and districts should develop clear policies and procedures for the collection, storage, and use of student data. These policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they are in line with current laws and best practices.

Provide training on data privacy and security: Teachers, administrators, and other staff should be trained on the proper use of digital tools and resources and the importance of safeguarding student data and privacy.

Use secure digital tools and resources: Schools and districts should select digital tools and resources that have appropriate security features to protect student data and privacy.

Provide transparency to parents and students: Parents and students should be informed of the types of data that are collected, how it is used, and who has access to it. This information should be provided in clear and accessible language.

Create a plan for responding to data breaches: Schools and districts should have a plan in place for responding to data breaches, including notifying affected parties, addressing the cause of the breach, and taking steps to prevent future breaches.

By implementing these strategies, schools and districts can ensure that student data is protected and that student privacy is maintained in the use of digital tools and resources.

As you can see from the chart above, the vast majority of districts (no matter the size) who responded to the survey report that they provide online safety guidelines and training support for students who have access to a school-issued device, software, and networks.

For questions about this information, contact Amanda Albrecht (608) 267-1071