Digital Learning:

We have reached a compelling moment in human history. Technology offers an incredible set of learning possibilities that did not exist just a few years ago.

Anyone with access to the Internet can, under the right conditions, tap into an endless supply of information, and connect with digital citizens all over the world. SCE’s Digital Learning program seeks to harness the power of digital technologies to enable anytime, anywhere learning, and to support innovations that maximize learning.

SCE invests in digital learning not as an endpoint, but as a powerful tool for youth to access guidance and support for learning on devices, person to person, through the school day and beyond. Ultimately we seek to equip the rising generation with the 21st century skills they need to thrive in our rapidly changing world.

Strategy:

SCE pursues a range of strategies to increase access to high quality digital learning experiences, both on screens and face-to-face, particularly for low-income youth. We design initiatives that target pressing challenges, and team up with exceptional partners poised to tackle them.

We seek to influence the quality of the digital learning media that reach low-income youth; the choices and behavior of the key adults in their lives; and the dynamics of the digital learning marketplace, particularly outside schools.

Our strategies currently address the following challenges:

Supply

Increasing the supply of and access to quality digital learning media.

Demand

Stimulating demand for and effective use of high-quality digital learning media.

Access

Increasing access to hands-on digital media programs for low-income youth.

Field

Building the digital learning field, and facilitating knowledge transfer and insight within the field.

Initiatives:

We believe the smart use of technology can help decrease learning and opportunity gaps among youth, in part by enhancing the ability to explore, produce and create through digital media. High-quality digital learning experiences can enable youth to engage in and practice critical 21st century skills such as problem solving, persistence, and collaboration. While technology is not the only answer to the education system’s ills, we are confident digital media will be a crucial enabler of anytime, anywhere, deeper learning for all children.

SCE works to help the next generation fulfill its potential. Like many funders, we view education as one of the most promising pathways toward that goal. There are many ways to learn, and many venues for learning. We are focusing on digital media because we see a disconnect between the increasing amount of time children spend in the digital world; the unmet learning potential of digital technologies; and a paucity of public-interest funding and programs related to digital learning.

We are targeting the following challenge: given how much time children spend consuming digital media, they are not learning as much as they could be via these technologies. We are also pursuing a parallel challenge: innovative technologies alone have not leveled the playing field for low-income youth. Our work aims to democratize the transformative potential of digital technology for learning. Of course, our work has implications for many other problems in the fields of education, media, technology, and workforce development.

The average American child spends about 7.5 hours per day consuming digital media. An increasing portion of this time is spent with interactive technologies like videogames and mobile web applications. Although there is promising evidence that these technologies can aid the acquisition and practice of “deeper learning” skills, such as complex problem solving and creativity, many of the billions of kids’ hours spent consuming digital media are of little or no learning value.

While greater access to technology has helped affluent youth and their educators marshal resources to learn much more, much faster, access alone has not led to the same transformation in teaching practices and learning outcomes for less affluent youth. Educators in less resourced communities need comprehensive supports to maximize digital resources, not single point solutions.

Producers create high-quality, engaging digital learning media addressing a variety of subjects and skills. Those technologies reach millions of kids, who use them in supportive contexts.

Educators and informal learning practitioners are equipped to leverage the full potential of digital media in their teaching, and youth experience meaningful learning. Digital technologies enable youth to access guidance and support for learning across contexts.

As a learning foundation, we integrate a feedback loop into everything we do in order to work smarter toward our aims. Each initiative operates on a unique logic model with a tailored evaluation framework suited to advance both our partner organizations and the field.

The following are some of the key indicators of overall success for this program:

  • More children have access to high-quality digital media and learning environments.
  • Kids increasingly use high-quality products during the hours spent engaged with media.
  • Parents and educators increasingly view digital learning as a valuable tool.
  • The education system evolves to greater use of quality digital tools.
  • More children are learning 21st century skills via digital media.
  • The qualifications and characteristics employers seek include the 21st century tools SCE (and others) promote.