Author Archives: Lisa Chu

Our Speak Up 2015 report, From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education, is now available!

From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education

Speak Up 2015 National Findings


From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education documents the key national findings from Speak Up 2015.

For the past thirteen years, Project Tomorrow’s® annual Speak Up Research Project has provided schools and districts nationwide and throughout the globe with new insights into how today’s students want to leverage digital tools for learning based upon the authentic, unfiltered ideas of students themselves. Each year, education, policy, research, and business leaders leverage the Speak Up findings to understand the trends around students’ use of technology, and how schools and communities can better serve the learning needs of today’s digital learners. Speak Up reports over the past few years have focused on connecting the digital dots for learning, mapping a personalized learning journey, and moving from chalkboards to tablets as part of a digital conversion effort.

This year’s report departs from that tradition of examining the state of education change and focuses on a particular phenomenon that we have documented over many years, the emergence of pixel based digital tools, specifically, videos, games, animations and simulations, as legitimate vehicles for learning. Leveraging the views of 415,686 K-12 students, 38,613 teachers and librarians, 4,536 administrators, 40,218 parents and 6,623 community members representing over 7,600 schools and 2,600 districts in the United States and around the world, this year’s Speak Up report examines three aspects of this phenomenon:

  • What precipitates the move within schools from print to pixel to lay the foundation for then understanding how teachers and students are using these digital tools in their classrooms?
  • How are students self-directing learning beyond the classroom?
  • What should we expect in further adoptions of visually engaging digital tools in education?

Key Findings from this year’s report include:

  • School principals (84 percent) are almost unanimous in their belief that the effective use of technology within instruction is important for student success. However, they do acknowledge challenges or barriers to meeting the expectation of effective technology usage.
  • Five out of 10 administrators note that the implementation of digital content resources such as videos, simulations and animations was already generating positive student outcome results
  • Almost 60 percent of technology leaders say that one-quarter of instructional materials in their schools today are digital, not paper-based; 26 percent say that their level of paperless-ness is 50 percent.
  • The top subject areas in which the students in grades 6-12 watch videos to support homework, research projects or studying are science (66 percent), math (59 percent), social studies/history (53 percent) and English/language arts (45 percent).
  • When asked what was holding back further expansion of their digital learning visions, 57% of principals say the lack of teacher training on how to integrate digital content within instruction is their top barrier.

Click here to download the report and more

Tomorrow’s Teachers are Teaching, and Learning, Today

Educators Rising California Students at Century High School in the News

We’ve been sharing news about the teacher shortage for a while now (see a previous post here). This week EdSource highlighted one of our Educators Rising California schools and how they are working to prepare their students for careers in teaching – and ultimately combat the teacher shortage. Check out our summary below:

When Century High School (Santa Ana, CA) senior Maria Vasquez teaches 1st graders about sentence structure and pronunciation, she “learns so much more from the students than they do from her.” Students in the school’s TEACH Academy are given the unique opportunity to gain hands-on work experience to prepare for careers as teachers. This is not only an excellent way for these high school students to gain real world experience as teachers, but, as educators note, it is also a great way for California schools to funnel students into teaching careers.

Through the TEACH Academy, Century High School students begin gaining experience as sophomores, where they learn skills such as lesson planning and parent correspondence. As juniors they serve as tutors and aides at nearby elementary schools, and as seniors they are paired with graduate students from Cal State Fullerton to further explore careers in teaching. All academy students also take college-level education courses and accrue 15 units of college credit by the time they graduate.

The academy is a part of the Orange County Teacher Pathway Partnership, which is funded through a $6 million California Career Pathways Trust grant and is headed by Rancho Santiago Community College District.

Century High School’s TEACH Academy is just one of over 50 education pathways in California high schools.  Janis Perry, lead project specialist at Santiago Canyon college, says, “Students will learn in a robust [teacher pathway] program that will lead to high-wage, high-growth, and high-skill occupations that will help fill California’s anticipated shortage of well-prepared teachers.” Officials estimate that the current academies could eventually add 2,000 – 4,000 teachers annually.

To read the original article by Fermin Leal, please click here

All students in the TEACH Academy are members of Educators Rising California. Project Tomorrow is proud to be a community partner in the OCTPP initiative. Two of Project Tomorrow’s initiatives, YouthTEACH2Learn and Educators Rising California, work to combat the issue of the teacher shortage.

YouthTEACH2Learn is a career exploration program where students explore teaching as a career. During the course, the students gain practical experience by observing elementary school classrooms, learning how to teach, developing and teaching standards-based lessons to younger students in neighboring elementary schools and participating in local community service projects. In addition, students also have the opportunity to meet local educators, attend career panels, and visit local college campuses in order to determine if teaching is a “good-fit” for their professional goals. To learn more about YouthTEACH2Learn, visit

Educators Rising California – Project Tomorrow is the state affiliate for Educators Rising, a national student leadership organization that provides high school students with information and experiential learning opportunities to support their exploration of a teaching career, particularly in teaching science and math, through co-curricular and after-school student clubs. To learn more about Educators Rising, visit

The 2016 Project Tomorrow Innovation in Education Awards are now open for nominations!

Innovation Awards

Deadline extended to Friday, June 3rd!

Now in its 11th year, this award and scholarship opportunity celebrates and showcases school programs, educators, and students for their innovative use of science, math, or technology in the classroom and community. We are seeking nominations from schools throughout Orange County in the following three categories:

  • Innovative School-Wide Program ($1,000 Winner Award, $250 Finalist Award)
  • High Impact Teacher ($1,000 Award, $250 Finalist Award)
  • Emerging Student Innovator ($1,500 Scholarship, $500 Finalist Scholarship)

This year’s awards will be presented at the 23rd Annual High-Tech Innovation Awards dinner reception on Thursday, October 6th, 2016, in conjunction with OC Tech Alliance’s own corporate awards. Award recipients will be hosted, along with a guest, at the reception and will receive regional and national recognition through both online and traditional media outlets.

Please help us spread the word and take a moment to identify and recognize innovation at your school.


  1. Nominate a student, teacher, or innovative school-wide program (You can even nominate yourself!)
  2. Let people know about this award opportunity! Pass along this information to teachers, counselors, and parent groups and encourage them to participate. More information can be found here:


  1. Reward Innovation: Your teachers and students deserve financial support and recognition for their innovative projects.
  2. Positive PR: Let the community, the county, and even the nation, know about your school and its accomplishments.
  3. Build relationships with local business leaders: Over 300 business leaders from Orange County will hear about your school’s innovations at the High-Tech Innovation Awards dinner.

All applications must be received by 5 p.m. Friday, June 3rd, 2016 for consideration. More information and the nomination forms can be found online at our website. For additional information, please contact Kelly Stump at 949-609-4660, ext. 11 or

Thank you, in advance, for participating and for all you do to develop tomorrow’s innovators!

#CoSN 16 Session – Digital Equity Challenges: Strategies for Bridging the Home/School Connection

Calling all CoSN 2016 attendees! Don’t miss Tuesday’s session about digital equity challenges – check out the details below:

Digital Equity Challenges: Strategies for Bridging the Home/School Connection
Tuesday 9:15-10:15 a.m. – Cardoza
Click here to learn more

K-12 education is going digital; but without leadership, clear policies and new strategies, students from the poorest families will be left behind when they leave the school campus. Some call this the homework gap because 75% of teachers report they assign homework requiring Internet access. Explore what is the scope the problem and describe how some school districts are undertaking innovative strategies to address the major concern. At the heart of this challenge is redefining equal educational opportunity in a digital era.

Keith Krueger, CEO, CoSN
Julie Evans, Chief Executive Officer, Project Tomorrow
Laura Hansen, Director, Information Management and Decision Support, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Deborah Karcher, Chief Information Officer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Jeff Moss, Superintendent, Beaufort County School District
Dereck Rhoads, Chief Instructional Officer, Beaufort County School District

Planning to attend this session? Let us know on Twitter!

SXSWedu 2016 Recap: How Boys and Girls Approach Digital Learning

At SXSWedu 2016, Julie Evans shared new 2015 Speak Up data on whether or not there are differences in how girls and boys approach digital learning as part of a session on gender sensitivity in gaming.

Students use technology for learning in four ways:
In school:
1.) teacher directed
2.) student self–initiated

Out of school:
3.) supporting schoolwork
4.) supporting personal learning

More than 50 percent of both girls and boys say “using technology in my classes increases my interest in learning.”

Speak Up 2015 reports on some of the ways teachers are using technology for learning (not much difference by gender)


And, Speak Up 2015 reports on some of the ways students are directing their own learning with technology outside of school (greater difference by gender)


Speak Up 2015 also asked about interest in coding – by age level and gender – and the results showed that interest in coding is greatest in elementary school for both boys and girls.


When it comes to games, Speak Up shows the boys – especially middle-school aged boys – are the most likely to turn to an online game or virtual simulation for self-directed learning.


Girls and boys report that they play games for different reasons. Via Speak Up 2015, they told us:
1.) Games increase my interest in school
2.) Games provide a more interesting way to learn
3.) Games make it easier to understand difficult concepts
4.) I learn more through a game
5.) Games personalize my learning

1.) Games make it easier to understand difficult concepts
2.) Games increase my interest in school
3.) Games provide a more interesting way to learn
4.) Games adapt to what I know or need to know
5.) I am a better thinker and problem solver when I play games

View Julie’s SXSWedu presentation for examples of games from BrainPop and for resources to help you evaluate gender sensitivity in games.

Our first Tomorrow’s Teachers Conference of the year is tomorrow!


We can’t wait to see of our Educators Rising Southern California members at our first Tomorrow’s Teachers Conference of the year! Follow along at #NextGenTeachers on Twitter as we live tweet tomorrow’s conference! Big thanks to Santiago Canyon College for making this event possible.

To learn more about Educators Rising California and how California’s high school students are learning about teaching careers, visit our website.

Plan to attend Blackboard’s #BbDay on July 21st!


Are you going to NSPRA 2016 in Chicago, IL this July? If so, expand the value of the national seminar by attending Blackboard’s #BbDay on July 21st for a morning of professional development!

Where: Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, Chicago IL (same venue as NSPRA)
When: Thursday, July 21 from 8:00am to 12:00pm
Click here to register

Plan to attend this event to get a sneak peek at the Speak Up 2015 communications officers data, interact and learn from your peers about social media management and community engagement initiatives, network with fellow PR professionals, learn about the latest Blackboard updates, and grow your knowledge about K-12 communication. As an added bonus, Blackboard will also provide a hearty breakfast, packed lunch, and transportation to the airports at noon!

Click here to register for #BbDay

Save the date: our 2016 Congressional Briefing is on May 5th!

Save the Date2

Save the date! We will release the Speak Up 2015 national findings at our 2016 Congressional Briefing on Thursday, May 5 in Washington, D.C.! We’ll share some of what we learned this year from more than 500,000 students, parents and educators who took the survey and shared their views on technology and learning. Stay tuned for more details to attend the event or watch it online.

Click here to sign up for alerts about the briefing

Speak Up family and friends: free webinar with Ann McMullen

Join longtime Speak Up friend Ann McMullen for a free webinar on Thursday, March 24, featuring a sneak peek at our Speak Up 2015 data. Check out the details below and don’t miss this event!

Tech in Today’s Schools: What EdTech Vendors Need to Know
Thursday, March 24, 2016
1pm – 2pm ET
Click here to register

A 2015 survey of district IT leaders by the Consortium for School Networking found that over half believe that their districts’ instructional materials would transition to digital to a “substantial” extent over the next three years*. How can curriculum, software and hardware developers help districts with the digital transition and what do districts expect from their vendors?

Our next webinar will answer these questions and more! Former Executive Director for Educational Technology in the Klein Independent School District (TX) Ann McMullan will:

  • Provide a brief history and current status of how schools and districts look to leverage technology tools for learning.
  • Review the full scope of what it takes to implement technology for learning initiatives in K-12 schools and school systems.
  • Share what savvy vendors must know and do to assure their school clients are successful in implementing their digital learning tools.
  • This webinar will provide you with strategic insight for your sales, marketing, customer service, and product development plans.


McMullan web

Ann McMullan
Public Speaker, Writer, Consultant





Ann McMullan is an education consultant focused on leadership, professional development and educational technology. Prior to her family’s September 2013 move to Los Angeles, Ann was the Executive Director for Educational Technology in the Klein Independent School District, located just outside Houston, Texas. Klein ISD serves nearly 5,000 students and is recognized as an early innovator and national leader in educational technology.

For more than sixteen years, Ann led the district team that provides professional development on 21st century instructional strategies to over 4,000 professional educators. She was also the district’s lead administrator for the library services department.

From 2004 to 2006 Ann served as the co-chair of the Texas Educational Technology Advisory Committee which produced the Texas Long Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020, used by the state legislature and school districts across Texas for the planning and implementation of technology for learning in all content areas, Pre-K to grade 12.

Ann has received many honors and awards over the years including the Making It Happen Award from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), in recognition of her educational technology leadership, commitment and innovation and a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Advancement of Technology in Learning from the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA). In September 2013 she was spotlighted by Tech & Learning and Digital Learning Environments in their Profiles in Leadership eBook.

Ann is a frequent speaker at state and national education conferences. Additionally Ann is a contributor to educational publications, including eSchoolNews, EdNET Insight and CoSN. Ann currently serves on the local board of Power My Learning Los Angeles. Power My Learning is a national education nonprofit that helps students in low-income communities—together with their teachers and families—harness the power of digital learning to improve educational outcomes.