Category Archives: Evaluation Projects

Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education: Current Status and Aspirations

Augmented and virtual reality in K-12 classrooms is still predominantly in pilot implementations. Last year, Project Tomorrow released an evaluation of one such pilot in San Diego to look into how an augmented reality environment is helping high school students develop greater awareness about and interest in STEAM careers.

The opening of a high school on two floors of a new library in San Diego offered a unique opportunity to develop an augmented reality pilot program to encourage and support STEAM learning. The STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project was developed as a collaboration between the San Diego Public Library Foundation, San Diego Public Library, e3 Civic High and Qualcomm Wireless Reach. Project Tomorrow was contracted to do an evaluation of the project to examine the relationship between the augmented reality app and student outcomes.

Given that today’s students are interested in learning that is contextually relevant, the STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project was designed to take advantage of the unique architecture of the library dome to provide 9th grade students an enriched learning experience. Using Qualcomm® technology, the project focused on leveraging augmented reality content that utilized mobile, context-aware 4G technologies to allow the students to interact with digital information embedded within the library’s physical environment focusing on science, math, engineering and art related content. Similar to augmented reality used by construction teams to visualize a building prior to construction, students learned about the construction of the new library while learning the STEAM concepts associated with each structural element.

Our evaluation found:

  • The majority of the students agreed that using the 4G tablet with the augmented reality content increased their engagement in learning about the Central Library Dome.
  • The students ascribed many benefits to the learning experience including increased enjoyment in learning, ability to work on the content with their classmates, and being more interested in the dome structure and architecture than they first envisioned.
  • Four out of 10 students said that they were more interested in exploring a STEAM career field after having this mobile learning experience.
  • The teachers participating in the project believe that the mobile augmented reality environment could be used successfully to impact student learning in many other academic areas with a closer alignment with curriculum.

That work in San Diego informed new questions on Speak Up 2016 designed to learn more about the current use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in classrooms around the country, and about how students, parents and educators are thinking of these learning tools for the future. (Some of this data was released in T.H.E. Journal this month.)

Current Use of AR and VR in the Classroom

  • 5 percent of teachers say they are using AR or VR in their classroom. This was the same no matter the size or type of school district and years of teacher experience. We did see a higher percentage of computer science/technology (11 percent) and science teachers (9 percent) in high schools using AR or VR.
  • 9 percent of students in Grades 6-8 and 8 percent of students in Grades 9-12 say they have experienced AR or VR in a classroom setting.

AR and VR figure prominently in students’ vision for their ultimate school – more so than for parents and teachers at this time. Note there is higher interest reported among school librarians and district administrators, particularly those from small districts (those with >5,000 students).

AR and VR figure prominently in students’ vision for their ultimate school.

View Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education Infographic

When asked about what they need to use digital content, tools and resources more successfully in the classroom, teachers cite three key elements:

  • Classroom set of devices (56 percent)
  • Consistent technical support for classroom usage (49 percent)
  • Professional development on effective instructional practices with that digital content (48 percent)

It makes sense therefore that in regards to using AR and VR in the classroom, teachers are starting to call for specific professional development to support their efforts. An emerging cohort of teachers (approximately 1 in 8 teachers or 13 percent) says they would like PD on how to use AR or VR in the classroom. Districts are also recognizing the importance of PD on the use of AR and VR in the classroom with 20 percent of district administrators saying that type of professional learning for teachers is a priority for this year.

Our final report on the STEAMing Ahead with Mobile Learning project concluded, “This evidence supports the idea that to stimulate and nurture STEAM career interest, the learning experiences need to replicate the inherent characteristics of STEAM content and processes. In other words, students need to be able to use advanced technologies such as 4G wireless connectivity and augmented reality, and have access to contextually relevant content to explore potential career interests.”

As Speak Up shows, the students are again ahead of most education leaders when it comes to the potential for augmented and virtual reality to spark and support learning.

Download Augmented and Virtual Reality in K-12 Education: Current Status and Aspirations Speak Up 2016 Findings.

The homework gap is real – what can we do about it?

Last school year we teamed up with our friends at Qualcomm at Alvin Dunn Elementary School in San Marcos, California, to launch a tablet program to study and close the “homework gap” – a term coined by the FCC to describe the problem that students face when they are unable to complete schoolwork due to lack of Internet access at home. Through this study, participating students received tablets with data plans – a transformative experience for those affected by the homework gap. Yesterday our study was featured on WIRED – check out the preliminary data that was featured in the article:

  • Among the students who were previously affected by the homework gap, 96 percent said having at-home access made them better learners.
  • 84 percent of all the students surveyed said they were using the device to write papers and complete homework assignments at home.
  • After receiving tablets with data plans, students reported increases in confidence and collaboration with their peers.
  • More than half of the students said home Internet access has made them more interested in what they were learning.

For Julie Evans, this data isn’t surprising – there have been similar impacts in schools across the country that have provided students Internet access at home. “At-home access facilitates the opportunity to be self-directed learners, and to take what they’re learning in school and extend it,” Evans says. “The idea of instilling in these students a desire for lifelong learning, and the resourcefulness to know how to go pursue that is something that transcends just learning algebra.”

With the homework gap becoming increasingly relevant, it’s interesting to see what connectivity can do for students. Interested in learning more about our study with Qualcomm? Read the article on WIRED, “Schoolkids Don’t Just Need iPads. They Need Data Plans” by Issie Lapowsky.

This year our Speak Up surveys feature questions about the homework gap. Is your school or district working to close the homework gap? Let us know by participating in Speak Up 2015 – open from October 1st through December 18th, 2015. Click here to register.

Project Tomorrow featured in The Journal

Earlier this week, Project Tomorrow, Kajeet, and Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative were featured in Dian Schaffhauser’s “Internet Access as Vital as Devices to Boosting the Learning Experience” in The Journal. The article discusses the results from our three-year study at Falconer Elementary School in Chicago, IL, which were published in our Making Learning Mobile 2.0 Report. Read an excerpt from Schaffhauser’s article below:

 “Within the school 127 fifth grade students and their four teachers were outfitted with Samsung Android tablets and SmartSpots for personal use. Just over a third of the students told the researchers that they didn’t have access to high-speed Internet at home.

As part of the study, the four teachers also received 56 hours of professional development, coaching and mentoring ‘to increase their effectiveness with using the tablets for instruction.’ Because this was the second year of the study, the researchers initially thought the educators would have a greater ‘comfort level’ in their use of the device and online tools within their instruction. However, staffing changes meant that only two of the original four were part of the fifth grade class in the second year, which meant half the teacher team still had a learning curve. Yet, noted the report, ‘The teachers’ strong commitment to professional development and their willingness to incorporate new strategies and resources into their classroom is a hallmark of a successful and maturing mobile learning project.'”

Interested in learning more about the Making Learning Mobile study? Read the Journal’s article, “Internet Access as Vital as Devices to Boosting the Learning Experience” by Dian Schaffhauser, and check out the Making Learning Mobile 2.0 Report.

THE Journal is dedicated to informing and educating K-12 senior-level district and school administrators, technologists, and tech-savvy educators within districts, schools, and classrooms to improve and advance the learning process through the use of technology. Launched in 1972, THE Journal was the first magazine to cover education technology. THE Journal is the leading resource for administrative, technical, and academic technology leaders in K-12 education.

Press release: North Carolina Educators Get Support for Digital Transition

For Immediate Release:
January 21, 2015
Download PDF of Press Release 
CONTACT:
Blythe Tyrone,
919-513-8597
betyrone@ncsu.edu
Amber Taylor
703-201-4893
amber@taylored-communications.com

Professional Development Model Being Implemented to Support State’s Schools

Raleigh, N.C. — On Jan. 8 and 9, over 50 instructional technologists and coaches, mentor teachers, and media coordinators came together at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation for the first event of the yearlong North Carolina Digital Leaders Coaches Network (DLCN): Building Change Agents in Education program.
The Friday Institute has collaborated with Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit organization, and North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) to develop the DLCN to assist schools and districts in the process of digital learning transitions, and to cultivate local capacity by providing support to those in coaching roles, as coaches are essential to leading and supporting student-centered digital learning and teaching.
“Project Tomorrow is partnering with the Friday Institute to extend what we learned from our National Science Foundation funded Teachers’ Readiness to Adopt and Adapt Digital Content grant to more education leaders in North Carolina,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. “This research demonstrates the importance and value of instructional coaches to help teachers leverage technology effectively to enhance student learning experiences.”  
Based on research on effective professional learning, the DLCN will provide ongoing, job-embedded and peer-supported professional development that is grounded in relevant and rigorous curriculum and instruction. This program seeks to ensure that participants have access to personalized and sustainable opportunities centered around pedagogy and digital learning with a significant emphasis on strategies that allow them to apply that knowledge to build capacity among educators, administrators, and students in the school.
Throughout the year, the cohort of educators will reconvene and interact with education experts through monthly face-to-face reunions and in an online environment. This structure will provide participants opportunities for professional networking and collaboration within a blended and sustainable community for the sharing of ideas and strategies. They will also acquire strategies and knowledge related to best practices in leadership and supporting stakeholders in their schools and districts.
“In giving these coaches an opportunity to learn and network with other educators who are in similar roles, we are helping to build a support structure that will ultimately have a positive impact on student learning experiences,” said Nancy Mangum, a research scholar at the Friday Institute and a project lead for DLCN.
This blended learning experience, built on the North Carolina Media Coordinator, Instructional Technology Facilitator & Coaching Evaluation Instruments, will help participants grow as educators, coaches and leaders while assisting them in building strong professional learning networks. The core components of Leadership and Culture, Content and Curriculum, Sustainability and Evaluation, and Being a Connected Educator are woven throughout all components of the DLCN experience.
More information about the program can be found at http://go.ncsu.edu/dlcn
About Project Tomorrow
Project Tomorrow (www.tomorrow.org), a national education nonprofit organization headquartered in Irvine, California, supports the innovative uses of research-based science, math and technology resources to develop critical thinking, problem solving and creativity in K-12 students. Project Tomorrow addresses the challenges of developing schools for the 21st century through national research projects, community and school-based programs, online tools and resources, and advocacy efforts to ensure that all students are prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders, innovators and engaged citizens of the world.
About the Friday Institute
The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (fi.ncsu.edu) at the North Carolina State University’s College of Education conducts research, develops educational resources, provides professional development programs for educators, advocates to improve teaching and learning, and helps inform policy-makers, all centered on innovations that will help prepare K–12 students for college, a career, and citizenship in the global information age.

Report Release:

Making Learning Mobile 1.0:
Leveraging Mobile Devices to Transform Teaching and Learning

“This project represents a landmark study in the developing K-12 mobile learning space, this study is important because it gets beyond simply putting a tablet in the hands of students, and it examines how to effectively implement tablets within instruction to improve student learning”   —Julie Evans, CEO Project Tomorrow
As part of the Making Learning Mobile study, Chicago 5th grade and Fairfax County 8th grade students were provided with educationally-managed broadband Android tablets using the Kajeet Sentinel® platform to connect kids in school and at home. The objective of the study was to evaluate how the students used the devices, in school and out of school, to support their schoolwork and extend learning beyond the classroom.  While the majority of 8th graders in the Fairfax County study had high-speed Internet access at home, only 39 percent of the Chicago 5th graders had similar access.  Therefore, the Chicago study represented an opportunity to provide first-time home access to the Internet for many families, a ground-breaking initiative within Chicago schools.
While each study resulted in different findings based on the student grade level and demographics, some common results included:
  • Students appreciated having a personal tablet because it made it easier for them to get online at school, review class materials whenever they wanted and read online textbooks outside of school all without competing for home computer access.
  • Teachers creatively used the tablets in a variety of ways to engage students in learning, to increase student-teacher communications, and to support instruction.
The Making Learning Mobile study is continuing this school year within Chicago Public Schools.
Register for the webinar at http://tinyurl.com/webinarMLM and download the complete report from both school districts on the Kajeet website at: http://www.kajeet.com/4u/education/MLM-form.html.
About Kajeet®
Kajeet, the only wireless service provider dedicated to kids and education, is solving the digital divide in schools. Kajeet for Education provides portable Wi-Fi hotspots with school-managed off-campus Internet connectivity.  Giving teachers or administrators the ability to set access hours and filter out non-educational content, the Kajeet Sentinel® platform, gives students the access to essential academic resources on the Internet anytime, anywhere. The Kajeet SmartSpot™ is compatible with all devices students use today and is 100 percent compliant with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). For more information, please visit us at www.kajeet.com/education.
About Project Tomorrow

Project Tomorrow®, the national education nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering student voices in education discussions, designed and implemented this program evaluation for Kajeet for Education.  Project Tomorrow has 17 years of experience in the K-12 and higher education sector and regularly provides consulting and research support to school districts, government agencies, business and higher education institutions about key trends and research in science, math and technology education.