Category Archives: edtech

Speak Up data featured in “From Cell Phone Bans to BYOD”

Last week, Christopher Piehler wrote an article for The Journal about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in schools. “From Cell Phone Bans to BYOD” focuses on the evolution of these policies, and how smartphones were banned in schools not too long ago. Furthermore, he notes that while iPads were the dominant devices in classrooms, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore due to the Android and Microsoft tablets “boasting lower prices and easier enterprise management.” Check out a snippet of his article featuring data from Speak Up 2013 below:

The era of one device dominating classrooms is over. Notebooks face competition not only from tablets, but from new categories of devices such as convertible laptop/tablets and phablets, as well as a device that many districts once banned: the smartphone. As our cover story shows, an increasing number of administrators, teachers and parents are giving up on cell phone bans and coming out in support of BYOD. According to Project Tomorrow’s most recent Speak Up survey, 60 percent of parents said they would like their children to be in a class where BYOD was allowed. And perhaps more importantly, two-thirds of parents said they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use in class. The same survey shows that a large majority of students in sixth through 12th grades already have access to smartphones.

While BYOD helps districts control spending on devices, it leaves ed tech leaders to ask the question, “What do schools do for the students who don’t have devices?” Furthermore, “Does it ultimately help or hurt learning for students to do schoolwork on the same device they use for texting and games?”

Be sure to check out the original article, “From Cell Phone Bans to BYOD” by Christopher Piehler and let him know what you think about his two questions regarding BYOD in the article’s comments section.

Our Speak Up survey asks questions regarding BYOD policies in schools, and what parents think about BYOD as well. A question we asked last year is:
Some districts are considering adopting a Bring Your Own  Technology (BYOT) to School program which would enable  students to use their own mobile devices within instruction. What  is your current policy on the use of student owned mobile devices  (smartphones, tablet computers) within class? 

Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents and educators to participate in local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about educational technology. Data from the surveys – including data regarding online classes – will be released in February 2015. Click here to register for Speak Up 2014 and mark your calendars for the survey’s launch date on October 6!

Digital vs. print

As with anything new, digital reading has been met with hesitation. Mark Pennington, a reading specialist in Elk Grove, believes that digital reading can eventually be on the same level as reading print. He says that the trick to being a good reader is being an engaged reader, and that it does not matter whether students are reading digitally or through print. “It’s pretty clear that good readers are active readers engaged with the text,” he said.

While more and more schools adopt digital readers like iPads and Chromebooks, some research shows that students comprehend more from reading print. Even though digital readers allow students to interact with their text in new ways, a study done by West Chester University found that younger students may be overwhelmed by the multimedia environment that e-books provide (which can therefore overwhelm their limited working memory) and that older students find it difficult to take notes on digital readers.

Perhaps all it takes is a shift in perspective in order to alleviate these issues with digital reading. Hillview Middle’s principal, Erik Burmeister, says that annotating digital books is actually better than traditional note-taking, as annotating provides permanent notes whereas traditional annotating typically means throwing away the books at the end of the year. Despite these achievements with digital reading tools, more research still needs to be done about whether digital tools or pen and paper are more effective. In the meantime, schools like Elk Grove and Hillview Middle will continue to use digital tools to help students understand what they’re reading.

Interested in learning more? Check out the original article, “Can Students ‘Go Deep’ With Digital Reading?” and West Chester University’s study.

Every year we ask questions about how educators and administrators are successfully using digital tools in the classroom, or which tools they wish they used in the classroom. An example is:
Imagine you are designing the ultimate school. Which tools would have the greatest positive impact on your (the student’s) learning? 

Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents and educators to participate in local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about educational technology. Data from the surveys – including data regarding online classes – will be released in February 2015. Click here to register for Speak Up 2014 and mark your calendars for the survey’s launch date on October 6!

Flashback Friday: “Students Speak Up: Trust Us With Devices”

Happy Flashback Friday! Every Friday we focus on Speak Up data, articles, and press releases from the past. This week we’re highlighting MindShift’s article, “Students Speak Up: Trust Us With Devices” from June 2013, which features data from Speak Up 2012 and notes that students want technology in their schools. Check out this snippet from MindShift’s article:

Of the more than 364,000 students surveyed, 65 percent of middle schoolers and 80 percent of high schoolers have access to a smartphone — nearly triple the number reported from the 2008 survey. Speak Up reports that, in the decade since they’ve been collecting data on how new technological tools can transform education, there have been big, dramatic changes. When they took their first survey in 2003, students’ biggest classroom hurdles were access to the Internet and working on outdated computers. Today’s students, however, have surpassed those original blockades to digital learning and are now most concerned that they aren’t able to access the full range of learning tools available to them, due to firewalls that keep them from social networks and a range of websites, as well as school restrictions on their smartphones.

On top of being experts at technology, students are also advocates for the use of technology in schools. A student from Brooklyn Tech High School in Brooklyn, New York, states that his school is “a bit technologically stunted” due to its lack of computers – some that aren’t even connected to the Internet. He also notes that his school’s ban on cell phones, iPads, and laptops is a huge mistake that limits students’ ability to find information quickly and even promotes the use of cell phones for unrelated purposes, such as texting in class. However, having access to devices and high-speed Internet is just one problem that’s waiting to be solved – teachers should also be trained in technology in order to stay up to date with their tech-savvy students.

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Every year, Speak Up offers students an opportunity to share their opinions and ideas about technology use in school to their teachers, principals, superintendents, and even local governments. An example of a question from the student survey is:
Besides not having enough time in your school day, what are the major obstacles to using technology in your school? 

Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents and educators to participate in local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about educational technology. Data from the surveys – including data regarding online classes – will be released in February 2015. Click here to register for Speak Up 2014 and mark your calendars for the survey’s launch date on October 6!

Pick Your Panels: Vote Us Onto the Official SXSWedu Line-Up

We need your help! Julie Evans is featured in two proposals for SXSWedu 2015’s Panel Picker, where educators can cast their votes for the most compelling ideas and ultimately shape the conference line-up. Voting ends on September 5th so make sure to give our sessions a “thumbs up” – you’ll need to create a SXSW username and password if you don’t already have one, but the process is simple and free! Check out the second session below:

Session two – Learning My Way: Anytime, Anywhere, Anyplace

Giving students 24/7 access to learning materials can dramatically improve education outcomes as proven in 40+ pilot projects. However, data shows that up to 30% of U.S. households have no access to high-speed broadband at home, and in some districts it’s as high as 70%. This causes many students to power down after school. We need a viable solution to address the gaps for those students without access. Learn about new mobile-centric solutions to enable safe and affordable 24/7 learning.


Additional Supporting Materials

Questions Answered

  1. Communicate how mobile technologies of the future can solve and enhance a new learning experience to help ensure today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world.
  2. Start a conversation around new mobile-centric solutions to enable safe, affordable, and equitable 24/7 learning.
  3. Learn how 24/7 access to their learning materials gives students, teachers and tutors the ability to improve education outcomes – and what you can do to diminish the digital divide in your area.

Speakers

Organizer

Catherine Baker Qualcomm
Don’t forget – voting ends on September 5th!

Flashback Friday: The Challenge of Educating Today’s Digital Natives

Happy Flashback Friday! As part of our new blog series, Flashback Fridays will focus on previous Speak Up data, press releases, and articles. This week we’re highlighting IMS Global Learning Consortium’s article from March 2014, “The Challenge of Educating Today’s Digital Natives,” which features Julie Evans and highlights the challenges that educators face when working with students who are experts in digital technology. Check out an excerpt from the article below:

While all K-12 and college students today enjoy some familiarity with technology, Evans said their data shows that the leading edge of the truly digital native student today is at the 8th grade level. “What we’re seeing is that it’s the middle school students and younger that are actually more digitally native, not only more comfortable using technology, but that they are fully taking advantage of this technology to supplement their education. We’re seeing about a third of middle school students that tell us they are doing self-directed learning outside of school using some type of digital resource.”

 “… The perception that these students were coming to class every day as empty vessels and their teacher needed to fill them with wisdom was not the case,” said Evans.

Students are increasingly taking online classes to supplement their traditional classes – sometimes without their teachers even knowing. Furthermore, while schools and platform providers try to guess which devices are most popular among students, students are actually “very device agnostic. What is most important to them is to use the right tool for the right task.” Given this growth in students’ thirst for knowledge and growth in number of platforms that allow students to access that knowledge, educators and schools should be aware of how their students are adopting technology and should use that information to adapt to meet their educational needs.

As “digital natives,” students are experts in digital technology use and should be taken into consideration when schools are creating policies regarding technology. Our Speak Up 2014 surveys feature questions regarding students’ use of technology, such as the question:

Besides not having enough time in your school day, what are the major obstacles to using technology in your school?

Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents and educators to participate in local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about educational technology. Data from the surveys – including data regarding online classes – will be released in February 2015. Click here to register for Speak Up 2014 and mark your calendars for the survey’s launch date on October 6!

An Online School Just for Girls

When two teachers at Westridge School in Pasadena decided to create a course based on pairing music and English together, they decided to turn to online education after their school became part of Online School for Girls, a nonprofit dedicated to educating girls. Paid by the online school, the teachers were able to build the course on their own time; now, Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition: The Music of Literature will hold its first lessons this fall.

Westridge is just one of eight schools in Los Angeles County that offers online classes through Online School for Girls. Despite the extra costs, the schools say the price is worth it and that they choose the nonprofit over other online options because it emphasizes teaching girls through creativity, practical lessons, and connection and collaboration. Furthermore, the schools found that it was time to join the edtech world or risk falling behind.

Through Online School for Girls, students are able to enroll in online courses that don’t fit into their regular school schedules or are of a special interest not on campus. These courses are taught by teachers from around the world who provide lecture videos, homework assignments, and even feedback through video chat. Due to the program’s emphasis on convenience outside of school, several students take courses to go beyond and prepare them for challenges outside of school.

Despite the nonprofit’s praises for its convenient and relevant courses, some critics of Online School for Girls note that its single-gender model can reinforce stereotypes, and that gender has very little to do with academic performance. However, the students don’t seem to mind the single-gender structure of Online School for Girls; since its establishment five years ago, the program has grown to over 80 schools and over 1,000 middle and high school students. In addition, Online School for Boys will launch this fall and pair with independent boys schools.


What are your thoughts on online learning and online classes? Check out the original article,“Online School for Girls puts focus on connection, collaboration” and check out Online School for Girls’ website to learn more about the nonprofit.

Our Speak Up survey features questions regarding online learning and online classes. An example question is:

If you could take an online class in whatever subject you wanted, what would be the advantages to you?

Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents and educators to participate in local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about educational technology. Data from the surveys – including data regarding online classes – will be released in February 2015. Click here to register for Speak Up 2014 and mark your calendars for the survey’s launch date on October 6!

Lego & National Instruments Promote “Hands-On” STEM Education


Lego, the toy-block company we all know and love, has teamed up with National Instruments to provide a more hands-on approach to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. By teaming up with National Instruments and its software, Lego enables students to improve their reasoning and problem-solving skills by programming robots they built out of robots. “Learning in books alone isn’t going to be very engaging or effective. By actually using the same tools and concepts and technology that [students are] going to use later on, they can actually build on the same architecture, the same platform they can use [both in and out of school],” said Jennifer Dawkins, the STEM program manager at National Instruments.

Not only has Lego teamed up with National Instruments to provide hands-on STEM learning, but they have also partnered with National Initiative in an effort to change how STEM and other subjects are taught in classrooms throughout the country. This shift in STEM education guidelines is aimed at learning how to do science rather than just teaching kids about science. “What we know from the learning sciences is that the more actively a person engages with the material that they’re learning, the better the retention and ability to apply that knowledge or that skill is,” says Kemi Jona, the director of the Northwestern University Office of STEM Education Partnerships.

“Allowing those other perspectives to become part of what it means to learn science has been shown to engage a lot more students from lots of different backgrounds and help them see this is what they can do too: that they have the ability and the expertise and the knowledge to do it successfully,” says Ann Rivet, an associate professor of science education at Teachers College at Columbia University. Through this new hands-on approach, Lego, National Instruments, and STEM educators throughout the country hope to make STEM fields more diverse.

To learn more about Lego and National Instruments’ hands-on approach to STEM education, watch the video above or check out the article by US News. What do you think about this new approach to STEM learning? Let us know!