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How Schools Evaluate, Use and Pay for Digital Content – Speak Up 2015

In our latest infographic from Speak Up 2015 National Data, we look at some of the questions we asked administrators, teachers and librarians about digital content.

speakup-2015-digital-content-k12-instruction-october-2016We wanted to share a bit more about what administrators told use both about what they look for when evaluating digital content and how they are (and are not) planning to pay for digital content.

While Speak Up participants tell us they value getting their own school/district-level data for free, they also value what they learn just from participating. These two questions offer an example. Administrators may not have considered some of the options available to them, and we are always interested in seeing how responses to these types of questions shift over the years.

Speak Up 2016 is currently open. Students, teachers, parents and administrators across the country are taking time to share their views with us to inform education policy at the national level – and to inform decisions being made locally. Learn more about this free service, and Speak Up before January 27th!

In 2015, we asked school administrators and teachers: “Which of these factors would you consider most important when evaluating the quality of digital content to use within instruction?”

 TeachersSchool Administrators
Adjusts to multiple reading levels74%74%
Compiled on a list by our State Department of Education18%16%
Content was evaluated by a librarian or media specialist19%11%
Content was highly ranked on Google search13%5%
Includes embedded online assessments43%48%
Includes professional development35%60%
Integration into district learning management system or student information system23%30%
Materials are created by practicing teachers56%38%
Mobile app version of the content24%25%
Multiple language versions available26%32%
No commercial advertisements within the content54%47%
Recommended by education membership associations and organizations32%28%
Recommended on education blogs and websites26%18%
Referred by a colleague47%21%
Research-based58%74%
Source is a content expert organization (e.g. National Science Foundation, universities)29%31%
Source is an online curriculum company or organization12%8%
Student achievement with the materials44%46%
Teacher evaluation of the materials45%40%
Teachers can modify it to meet classroom needs71%66%
Textbook publisher recommendations9%3%
User experience25%19%

In 2015, we asked district administrators: “What is the primary way that you are currently funding your purchases, subscriptions, and/or licenses for digital tools, content, and resources to support student learning?”

 Doing thisConsidering thisNo plans
eRate funds71%5%24%
Funding from PTA/parent support groups43%11%46%
Grants or funding from district or school educational foundation67%15%18%
Local bond measures or taxes41%13%46%
Local donations or grants from corporations or foundations43%26%30%
Parents pay an annual technology fee for each child (like a music, athletic, or field trip fee)24%12%63%
Repurposing other budget funds (such as textbook funds)43%31%26%
Savings from allowing students to use their own mobile devices14%23%63%
Savings from moving some services to the cloud31%23%46%
Specific budget allocations from our general funds62%20%18%
State or federal competitive grants47%26%27%
Title 1 funds53%13%33%

10 Things Principals Told Us About Digital Learning

Before National Principals Month comes to an end, we wanted to share some of what more than 2400 principals told us about digital learning during Speak Up 2015. We look forward to hearing from even more principals during this year’s survey period, open through January 13, 2017!

10things-principals-header#1 Tech in schools is extremely important.

58% of principals say the effective implementation of instructional technology is “extremely important” to students’ success (and 54% of parents agree!).

#2 Data is informing instruction.

3/4 of principals say their school is using student data to inform instructional strategies with positive academic results.

#3 Getting social with parents and students.

52% of principals say their schools are successfully using social media to communicate with parents and students.

#4 Jumps in concerns about digital equity.

In 2007, only 12% of principals cited digital equity (students’ access to technology outside of school) as a top concern. Fast forward to 2015 – 51% of principals rank it now as a top concern!

#5 Principals are tech users too!

81% of principals text with colleagues; 73% used an online video to learn how to do something; 61% use a mobile device for note taking during classroom observations; and 36% use Twitter as an informal PD tool.

#6 Tech in English class most effective? Principals say so.

Principals say technology is used most effectively to help students develop college and career ready skills in English/Language Arts (58%), Career Technical Education (52%), Computer Science/Programming (51%) and Science (51%) classes.

#7 High school principals leading on BYOD.

While 84% of all principals say it’s important for students to use mobile devices during the school day to support schoolwork, just 26% are allowing students to actually use their own mobile devices for learning purposes. However, 41% of high school principals are allowing BYOD with another 16% saying it’s “very likely” that they will do so this year.

#8 Paperless school?

3 in 10 principals say that at least 50% of the instructional materials used at their school are now digital, rather than printed.

#9 High Techxpectations for new teachers.

Principals say new teachers should know how to use technology to differentiate instruction (76%) and to communicate with parents and students (66%). They should also know how to develop, implement, and evaluate online assessments (61%) and manage a classroom where every student has a mobile device (53%).

#10 Value of digital content.

Principals say that the top benefits of using digital content within instruction are increased student engagement (80%), increased relevancy of the curriculum (60%) and increased personalization of the learning process (60%). Are you surprised that only 32% of principals consider cost savings as a digital content benefit?

Data Snapshot: Of the 2400 principals who “spoke up” in 2015, 63% were female, 26% had more than 16 years of administrative experience and 9% were Hispanic/Latino.

Download the 10 Things Principals Told Us about Digital Learning infographic! 

It’s not too late to get your school’s FREE Speak Up Data! Surveys are open through January 13, 2017. Just register a contact person and then spread the word about the surveys with your students, parents, staff and/or community. There are no costs to participate in the surveys or to receive your data!

speak up findings on social media use of students parent and teachers

How We’re Using Social Media In and Out of School

Students use social media as part of their learning – to collaborate, explore and share. We asked students last fall about how they use social media for learning, what specific tools they use and what related challenges they are experiencing.

More than 40 percent of students (grades 6-12) told us that not being able to access social media tools at school is a problem for them. Given that more than 75 percent of high school students told us they use YouTube “all the time,” it is clear that not being able to access that tool during school hours must feel like a serious challenge to these learners.

It’s always interesting for us to see which networks are (and are not) being used by students across the country each year. (We look forward to hearing from students again on this topic beginning in October!) After YouTube, the most used social networks, among high school students, are Snapchat and Instagram. The least used? Continue reading

2016 Outstanding Superintendents Receive Speak Up Shout Out Awards

 

Speak Up Shout Out Awards
Today, we recognized 20 school district superintendents from across the country with Speak Up Shout Out Awards for 2016 Outstanding Superintendents. Each of their districts have had exceptional participation in the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. The awards were announced during AASA’s Advocacy Conference.

“More than 2,600 districts participated in Speak Up 2015, but these 20 stood out to us for their commitment to raising the voices of their stakeholders, notably students, parents, community members and educators at all levels,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. “Speak Up, in addition to being a national research project, is a free service open to all schools, and we are thrilled to see so many taking advantage of the online surveys and national reports.”

“Superintendents across the country are dealing with an array of educational technology opportunities and Speak Up offers a platform so they can learn directly from their stakeholders about what students, parents and teachers are looking for now and in the future,” said Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “The superintendents being recognized by Project Tomorrow are leaders in the effective use of technology for learning.” Continue reading

Inaugural Speak Up Study Club @ ISTE

Speak Up Study ClubAs part of our annual Speak Up survey of more than 500,000 students, educators and parents, we are rarely able to distribute all of the findings, so we’re trying something new this year!

At ISTE, we convened our first-ever Speak Up Study Club. Invited members each received exclusive Speak Up data, spent some time talking about digital learning trends and shared some thoughts about the 2016 Speak Up surveys and gave us plenty of new ideas for other ways to share national Speak Up data. Continue reading

The Homework Gap Is Real. This Is How It Is Currently Being Addressed.

By Dr. Julie Evans, CEO, Project Tomorrow

Last fall, Speak Up asked education stakeholders – educators, students and parents – across the country about their perceptions and views on the homework gap. We wanted to know how the homework gap is impacting students and teachers everyday and some ways that school districts are approaching the challenges associated with providing safe and consistent access to the Internet outside of school.

More than 505,000 K12 students, teachers, administrators and parents representing 7,800 schools and 2,600 districts nationwide responded. The data included respondents from urban, rural and suburban communities.

Homework Gap Data

(Click for PDF)

Administrators’ views on the importance of out-of-school connectivity have changed over the past few years. As schools and districts are increasingly emphasizing the importance of personalized learning empowered by the use of digital tools, content and resources in the classroom, the issue of homework connectivity (what we used to call the digital divide) has raised its ugly head again.

A majority of district leaders such as superintendents and directors of curriculum and learning now say that the effective use of technology within learning is the best way to prepare students for college and career success and improve student achievement.

Sixty-seven percent say the effective use of technology is extremely important to student success.

The increased emphasis in the district or central offices is obviously trickling down to the classroom too. Based upon our new 2015 data, teachers are using more digital content than ever before. In our national report (From Print to Pixel) released a few weeks ago, we reported that teachers’ use of online videos within instruction increased by 45 percent since 2012. Additionally, the use of online curriculum increased by 71 percent in the past three years, and we document the increase in the use of digital content in the classroom as 4x what is was in 2012.

To fully leverage these tools and also take advantage of advanced tools that facilitate stronger school-to-home communications, it is increasingly imperative that students have not just any access to the Internet outside of school but rather safe and consistent access. Access through devices and connectivity that is appropriate for doing online research, for using online tools to submit homework, to facilitate communicating with their teachers about questions and collaborating with classmates on school projects.

The students understand this very well. Two-thirds of students say that is important for them to have safe and consistent access to the Internet when they are outside of school for them to be successful in school.

Unfortunately, one in five students say this type of appropriate learning environment is not available to them on a consistent basis. Many tell me through focus group discussions that they are using their mom or dad’s smartphone to check on school assignments or checking grades, but that these access points are totally insufficient, inconvenient and inappropriate for doing the types of sophisticated learning tasks we expect from students today. Tasks such as doing research on online primary sources such as from the Newseum to write a paper for history class, or participating in online labs or simulations for chemistry class, or writing that thoughtful essay about Hawthorne for their English Literature class.

I am impressed with the resourcefulness of these students impacted by the homework gap: One-third are getting to school early or staying late to do their online academic tasks using the school’s wifi. Another 24 percent say that they regularly are using their public library as their place for doing homework. One in five are doing their homework at a fast food restaurant or coffee shop. But being impressed with their resourcefulness does not mean that this is the way it needs to be. I think that we will all agree that McDonalds is not the best way for our nation’s potential best and brightest to do their homework. The quality of the out-of-school Internet access matters.

Teachers are the front lines of this situation today. Per our data from this past fall from 36,000 teachers from all kinds of communities and teaching all grade levels, two-thirds say that they are sometimes reluctant to assign digital or Internet dependent homework out of concern that their students may not have safe and consistent out-of-school connectivity.

Consequently, 51 percent of school principals say that ensuring student access to technology outside of school is a top challenge for them today – only 30 percent said the same in 2010. This issue is top of mind today for educators throughout schools and districts nationwide. And the majority are exploring various innovative solutions to remedy this situation – both in terms of local approaches and advocating for state and federal policies to support new solutions.

There is no shortage of good ideas on this, but the challenge for many districts is how to realistically implement sustainable options that fit for their community. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach will probably not work and so understanding how some districts are experimenting or exploring new ideas is helpful for the entire discussion. When we asked administrators about how they were addressing this challenge, the most common response was to allow students to be on campus early or to stay late (68 percent of administrators say they are doing that already). Additionally, one-third are providing wifi access in their school parking lots. We hear from students that they are taking advantage of that also. Fifty-two percent are working with public libraries to expand their hours or allow students to have priority access to the library’s computers in the after school times.

Many of us are familiar with some other innovative approaches such as equipping school buses with wifi hotspots or paying for home Internet access for families. Per our data, only five percent of administrators say their buses are wifi enabled; only four percent are paying for home access. Less than one-quarter of administrators say they are considering either of these options for their districts.

Unfortunately, too many districts report that they are effectively stifling the use of technology within learning by discouraging their teachers from assigning Internet based homework (37 percent) or telling students to download online resources to USB sticks (45 percent).

The Speak Up data validates what many of us already know.

The homework gap is real.

This situation is a critical equity issue.

Failure to address this issue will have significant impact on students’ learning and their preparation for future success in college or the workplace.

The time is now to act with new solutions and new ideas that address the seemingly insurmountable challenges for schools and communities.

Throwback Thursday: Project Tomorrow’s 4th Annual Youth Leadership Summit

 

Happy Throwback Thursday! In honor of our 5th Annual Youth Leadership Summit next Saturday, we’re looking back at last year’s Youth Leadership Summit. Check out our summary of the event from last year:

On October 19th, 2013, Project Tomorrow held its fourth annual Leading the Way: Youth Leadership Summit for Math and Science, at Edwards Lifesciences Worldwide Headquarters in Irvine, California. With over 200 students, parents, and community leaders in attendance, the event provided an opportunity for students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to learn about how math and science proficiency is increasingly a critical skill for current and future jobs. 

This conference-style event kicked off with a student presentation of OC business trends, followed by a panel discussion from industry leaders. Students then attended career-specific breakout sessions of their choice led by local business and education leaders, a panel discussion featuring a diverse group of engineers, and tabletop exhibits introducing attendees to local STEM college programs. This free, half-day event included continental breakfast and a networking lunch and concluded with a student raffle featuring gifts from local businesses.

Last year’s summit had 200 student & parent participants, 37 high schools in attendance, 21 career professionals, 8 local colleges, 14 STEM fields (including zoology, surgery, engineering, gaming technology, and more), 23 raffle prizes, and 20 hardworking volunteers! What will this year bring?

Our 5th Annual Youth Leadership Summit takes place on October 25th and runs from 8:45am to 2pm. All students in Orange County, CA are invited to attend the summit and learn about different careers in STEM. This free half-day event includes a student presentation, panel discussions from industry leaders and a diverse group of engineers, tabletop exhibits to introduce students to local opportunities and college programs, and breakout sessions led by business and education leaders throughout the region. Opportunities like these are just what students need to get exposure to these types of careers!

The deadline to register is TOMORROW – click here to register and participate in this year’s summit!

Project Tomorrow event: “Leading the Way: Youth Leadership Summit for Math & Science”

The “Leading the Way: Youth Leadership Summit for Math & Science” is a unique opportunity for Orange County’s high school students to share their ideas on how to improve math and science education and to learn about how math and science proficiency is a critical skill for many current and future jobs in Orange County. This interactive, half-day summit empowers students to explore careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and provide these students with valuable information about the workforce development trends in the county and what they need to do to be well prepared for the jobs of the future. Additionally, through working group discussions, we capture the students’ ideas on how to improve K-12 math and science education and thus, Orange County’s economic future.
Click here to register – the registration deadline is this Friday!

Who will be attending this year’s Summit?
This year’s Youth Leadership Summit will host 200 of Orange County’s best and brightest high school students who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math, and serve as representatives from their high schools.
The Summit will also include:
  • A special presentation by a panel of student leaders, on the latest workforce trends in Orange County. 
  • Panel discussion with representatives from a diversified set of OC companies on the role of math and science in their industry, and their expectations for employees in the future. Break out sessions and tabletop exhibits to introduce students to local STEM career opportunities and college programs. 
Why a Youth Leadership Summit?
Statewide, California reports that in 2020, the number of jobs requiring a college degree will outstrip the number of jobs which do not, with most of those jobs being STEM-related. Additionally, 45% of today’s current science and engineering workforce will retire within the next few years. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that science and math proficiency are the new “must-haves” for jobs outside of the usual STEM fields including positions in the hospitality, construction and services sectors. To be prepared to join the new OC workforce, today’s students must receive a world-class science and math education, and understand what is needed both in terms of skill development and educational attainment to compete for these new careers.
How to get involved!
Participation by the invited high school students is 100% underwritten through corporate sponsorship funds provided by our Summit sponsors and includes a specially prepared packet of information and resources for the students, continental breakfast and lunch. 
Other interested participants can register to attend at www.tomorrow.org. The registration fee for the Summit is $25. For information about the Summit, sponsorship opportunities or to discuss ways for your company or organization to be involved, please contact Meg Lewis (mlewis@tomorrow.org or 949-609-4660 x12).

Press release: Students, Parents, Teachers, Administrators “Speak Up” on Top Technology Issues Facing Schools

For Immediate Release: October 15, 2014                          
Contact: Amber Taylor                                          
                  703-201-4893
                  amber@taylored-communications.com
Students, Parents, Teachers, Administrators “Speak Up” on
Top Technology Issues Facing Schools
National Speak Up 2014 Surveys Open Until December 19th
Online Surveys: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/
Irvine, Calif. – For the 12th year, K-12 students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members across the country have the opportunity to share their views on the role of technology within learning as part of the annual Speak Up National Research Project. 
The national online Speak Up 2014 surveysare open to all students, parents, educators and community members until December 19th.  More than 13,000 individuals have responded since the surveys opened last week. 
More than 10,000 schools and 3,000 districts are expected to register and promote the online surveys to their stakeholders again this year because of the value of the Speak Up data in informing their plans and policies for the school year.  Schools and districts who register to participate receive survey data particular to their school(s) at no cost. Last year, more than 400,000 people shared their opinions.
Always cognizant of the key issues facing schools and districts with technology usage, this  year’s Speak Up annual surveys poll K-12 students, educators and parents about the use of mobile devices, online and  blended learning classes, digital games and digital content within learning.  The 2014 surveys include new questions about data privacy, students’ interest in learning coding, college and career readiness, teachers’ familiarity with digital badges, and the features desired by both students and parents in a school mobile app.   
As more students have their own smartphones, tablets and laptops, last year’s surveys showed a major shift in attitudes towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. The surveys continue to explore that issue as well as schools’ bandwidth capacity to support the use of high quality digital content such as videos and animations within classroom instruction.  And in recognition of the ongoing interest in improving teachers’ skills with technology, the Speak Up surveys collect important data for local schools about teachers’ wish lists for professional development and the training methodologies that are more effective.
“Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members to tell school leaders and policymakers how they feel about some of the most important policies and programs that impact day-to-day school life,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. 
“Innovative education leaders use the annual results of Speak Up each spring to help direct their policies, programs and investments,” said Evans. “As a national nonprofit dedicated to improving learning experiences for students, we are pleased to leverage our expertise in collecting authentic stakeholder feedback to provide this important free service to local schools and national leaders.”
After more than a decade and 3.4 million participants, Speak Up continues to be the only annual, national survey to ask students, educators and parents how they use – and how they would like to use – technology for learning.  Again this year, the online surveys ask students, parents and educators to envision their ultimate 21stcentury school and to identify the technology tools that would be essential to support increased student achievement and learning.  Past Speak Up national reports are available at www.tomorrow.org/speakup/speakup_reports.html.
The Speak Up National Research Project represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered input on education and technology from those ‘on the ground’ in the schools.  The annual survey about education and technology is facilitated through public, private, parochial and charter schools all around the country. The parent survey is also available in Spanish.
Project Tomorrow will share the national data findings from the survey in the spring with federal, state and local policymakers.  Additionally, every school or district that participates in Speak Up receives a free online report with all of their locally collected data – and the national data findings to use for benchmark comparison. All participating education entities will gain access to their own stakeholder data in February 2015. 
Individual participation and responses provided in the Speak Up surveys are completely confidential and completing the online surveys takes only 20 minutes.  Speak Up is open to every public and private school and district in the United States, American schools on military bases and other interested schools worldwide.
Since 2003, more than 3.4 million K-12 students, educators and parents from more than 30,000 schools in all 50 states have participated in Speak Up. The online survey is facilitated by Project Tomorrow and supported by many of our nation’s most innovative companies, foundations and nonprofit organizations including Blackboard, Inc., BrainPOP, DreamBox Learning, Fuel Education, Qualcomm Wireless Reach, Rosetta Stone, and Schoolwires.
Project Tomorrow partners with more than 75 different education associations, organizations and think-tanks for outreach to the schools and development of the survey questions including the American Association of School Administrators, Consortium for School Networking, Digital Learning Day, Digital Promise, edWeb.net,  iNACOL, International Society for Technology in Education, National School Boards Association, National Secondary School Principals Association, Southern Regional Education Board and State Education Technology Directors’ Association.
For additional information, visit www.tomorrow.org
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Speak Up Participation Guide

This step by step participation guide is a great starting point for schools and districts to use when introducing the Speak Up Research Project to interested stakeholders. The participation guide includes background information on Speak Up, the benefits of participation, how to get involved, survey themes, and quotes from other educators on their experience with Speak Up. We recommend using this presentation in your school/district leader meetings as a promotional tool for districts to send to school administrators who are unfamiliar with the project or as way to get parents involved. This standard PowerPoint presentation can be edited to include information from your own school or district.

Click here to download the participation guide and get started on promoting Speak Up to your school/district!