The Drivers of STEAM Education: Findings from Speak Up

Project Tomorrow has been conducting the Speak Up survey for 15 years now, collecting feedback from more than 5 million individuals during that time. We’ve been asking about STEAM (and STEM) issues over all those years. I was invited to present some of the STEAM findings in a webcast for the STEAM Universe: STEAM Research from the Front Lines: The Impact of STEAM on Teachers, Students, Administrators and Parents. You can find a recording of that session here:

As discussed during the webcast, these are some of the STEAM-related trends we’ve seen in recent years from our surveys of students, parents and educators:

  • Greater emphasis on students’ global skill preparation
  • New expectations from parents for skill development & digital learning
  • Value of personalized learning on the rise with new learning models
  • Students as content creators, not just consumers
  • Increasing criticality for connectivity at school and home
  • Learning as a 24/7 enterprise for students
  • Getting beyond assumptions & myths on career exploration

The webcast covered a number of topics, but I wanted to share some of the findings here behind what we see as four drivers of interest in and implementation of STEAM education:

1) Administrators’ desire to close the achievement gap and level the education playing field

Across all types of school districts (urban, suburban and rural), half of administrators told us that closing the achievement gap is one of the top issues that “wake them up at night.” And, when we asked what has the greatest potential to enhance their students’ achievement, their top four solutions were:

  • Enhancing teacher effectiveness
  • Integrating college and career ready skills within curriculum
  • Increasing STEM career exploration activities for students
  • Leveraging digital tools, products and solutions more effectively

When we look at these solutions, it is also important to look at some additional Speak Up feedback. For instance, no matter how we ask it, the top technology-related challenge that principals say they face is motivating teachers to change their practices to use technology in the classroom. Combine that with the top concern parents have about technology use in school – that technology use varies to much from teacher-to-teacher – and we see a common theme. (I wrote more about this issue earlier this year: Teachers’ Readiness and Willingness to Adopt Digital Tools for Learning.)

2) Parents’ concerns about their child’s future

Also driving STEAM education is parents’ growing concerns about their children being ready to compete in the future. We asked a more broad question of parents about what worries them about their child’s future. The top response was “My child is not learning the right skills in school needed to be successful in the future.” We were surprised to see this across the board: 58% of elementary school parents, 58% of middle school parents and 54% of high school parents. We also saw no difference in this finding when we looked at parents’ income levels or type of school (urban, suburban, rural). We even saw this in a survey we conducted in Mexico. It’s a global concern.

3) Need to integrate the development of college and career-ready skills into everyday curriculum

We asked parents and administrators about what the “right skills” are that students should be learning and we saw a lot of agreement.

workplace skills parents and administrators think students need

We also asked “what are the best ways for students to develop these “right skills?” Parents and administrators value the same experiences:

  • Work experience – job, internship, volunteering
  • Using technology regularly within school
  • Project-based learning experiences
  • Learning coding or computer programming
  • Taking advanced science and math courses
  • Taking career technical education courses
  • Doing real research or scientific experiments
  • Pursuing artistic or performance interests

4) Means to increase the effectiveness of the use of technology within the learning experience

And, that list leads us to the fourth driver we are seeing behind STEAM education. “Using technology regularly within school” was behind only work experience, according to parents and administrators, as the best way to learn the skills students will need in the future. Administrators tell me that STEAM education can be the means to increase the effectiveness of the use of technology within the learning experience. They see that STEAM education is a way to realize greater impact and to be able to measure that impact more effectively.

Speak Up 2017 includes new questions about why math matters, how students can best learn math concepts and interest in STEAM careers. We look forward to learning from all of the education stakeholders who will share their views between now and January 2018, and in sharing those national findings.

Speak UP 2017 is Open

Free Survey Tool for All Schools Helps Students, Parents, Educators and Administrators Inform Education Policy and Practice

Speak Up 2017 is open for participation until January 19, 2018.

More than 500,000 students, parents and teachers will share their views on technology and learning to inform policy at the local, state and national levels as part of the 15th annual Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. Between now and January 19th, all K-12 students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members across the country have the opportunity to participate in the online surveys.

As part of our nonprofit mission, Project Tomorrow offers Speak Up as a free service to all schools and districts. Once registered, they receive both their local survey data and the national data at no cost at the end of the survey period. We also provide promotional materials, lesson plans, infographics, technical support and more.

In addition to questions on internet access and speed, mobile devices, gaming, aspirations and challenges, this year’s surveys also explore:

  • Digital citizenship
  • Cloud computing
  • Math attitudes
  • Data usage

Take the survey.

Register your school or district.

Don’t miss out on your schools’ chances to win great offers from some of our partners during Speak Up America Week (December 4-8, 2017) and Speak Up Appreciation Week (January 8-12, 2018). All surveys submitted during those weeks increase the related school/district’s chances to win national conference registrations (from AASA, AASL, ISTE), professional development from CoSN, an iNACOL institutional membership and more!

Speak Up is the only annual, national survey to ask students, educators and parents how they use – and how they would like to use – technology for learning. Past Speak Up data reports and infographics are available at http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/speakup_data_findings.html

Since 2003, more than 5 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 Apex Learning, Blackboard, Inc., BrainPOP, DreamBox Learning, iboss, Qualcomm Wireless Reach, Rosetta Stone and Scholastic Education.

Educators Rising California Will Elect Student Leaders in October

Educators Rising California is electing its first-ever group of Student Officers to serve on its Executive Council next month.

Educators Rising CA is dedicated to attracting promising students to pursue education-related careers and to helping them develop the skills and strong leadership traits that are found in high-quality educators. The organization also provides students with valuable leadership opportunities, including the newly announced State Officer positions.

Students elected to the Executive Council will serve as ambassadors for the organization and will have multiple opportunities to engage in activities to build their own leadership skills. All eligible students are encouraging to apply for candidacy as Educators Rising CA State Officer! (See Article VII, Section 1 in the application for eligibility.)

Effective state officers are articulate, self-motivated, outgoing, conscientious students with a passion for Educators Rising CA’s mission and vision. They will be key to promoting the organization as essential to the cultivation of tomorrow’s great educators. Officers must be comfortable with public speaking and connecting with education stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, policymakers, etc.) both virtually and in person.

Educators Rising CA is looking for the following Student Officers:

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Secretary
  • Southern Region Representative
  • Central Region Representative
  • Northern Region Representative

The deadline to apply for one of the positions is October 20, 2017. Applications include a written form, resume, two letters of recommendation and a two-minute video. Elections will be held October 27-30th, and the new State Officers will be announced on Tuesday, October 31st.

Learn more about Educators Rising CA and the new Student Officer positions, and download the application today: http://www.tomorrow.org/educatorsrising/officers.html

 

A Day in the Life of Today’s Students

As we see more and more technology in our schools, we wanted to take a look at how emerging technologies support learning on a daily basis – in and out of school. At this year’s Speak Up Congressional Briefing, we shared data on what “a day in the life” of a middle school student looks like today.

More than 138,000 students in grades 6 to 8 participated in Speak Up 2016. Here is some of what they told us about their technology use in school.

Technology use in schools data findings

The middle school students we profiled this year told us that technology allows them to learn at their own pace in ways that fit their individual styles, and that they are taking greater ownership of their own learning.

Technology use in schools data findings

That’s all just within the school day. We know, however, that students see learning as a 24/7 enterprise. So, we asked them how and where they are using technology to learn outside the classroom.

Tech and learning - outside of school

Tech and learning - outside of school

 

Find more Speak Up 2016 data findings on tomorrow.org, including:

Designing a Dream School

Guest post by: Dr. R. Mark Beadle

Milton Hershey School

As I thought about this title, I remembered a story you have likely heard:

Early one morning, a mother went in to wake up her son.

Wake up son, it’s time to go to school!

But why, Mom? I don’t want to go.

Give me two reasons why you don’t want to go.

Well, the kids hate me for one,  and the teachers hate me, too!

Oh, that’s no reason not to go to school.  Come on now and get ready.

Give me two reasons why I should go to school.

Well, for one, you’re 52 years old.  And for another, you’re the Principal! Source

Maybe if we had dream schools, principals, teachers and even students would feel excited about coming to school. I feel blessed to have helped dream and deliver a dream school—one traditional and one online.

As part of Speak Up 2016, Project Tomorrow surveyed more than 5 million students, educators and parents about key trends and research in science, math, technology, and the future of education. They asked these stakeholders about their dream school. These are the responses from school administrators and high school students (sortable):

ResponseAdministrators*Students**
Augmented reality apps12%26%
Chromebook or laptop for every student to use at school77%67%
Cloud based communications and collaboration tools (e.g. Google Apps for Education, Microsoft Office 365)65%51%
Admins: Dashboard or portal to track student academic progress over time (e.g. classes taken, course grades, test scores, absences) even if students change schools. Students: Online site that tracks all of my school year information including grades, test scores and activities from kindergarten through high school even if I go to different schools61%59%
Digital content (animations, simulations, online articles and resources)51%46%
Google hangouts or other online group messaging in class32%48%
Interactive whiteboards52%50%
Internet access anywhere at school69%70%
Learning management systems (e.g. Blackboard)40%33%
Mobile apps for learning39%54%
Online or virtual classes35%41%
Online tests and assessments61%52%
Online textbooks58%53%
Online tools that help organize schoolwork and provide access to important information50%49%
Online tutors50%45%
Online, video and digital games31%50%
Online videos and movies31%51%
Social media tools for students to connect and work with others (e.g. blogs, wikis, social networking sites)31%44%
Tablet for every student to use at school43%42%
Tools to help students create media projects (e.g. video, audio)54%48%
Virtual reality experiences and hardware (headsets and devices)29%33%

Laptops and Internet access share the top two spots in both the student and the school leaders’ dream schools. Tablets are low on the list for the high school students surveyed. Half (49 percent) of the students report using a school owned device. Three-quarters (76 percent) report having their own laptop to use and 44 percent report having a tablet. It would seem that most students surveyed have their own device and do not need a school provided one. Only 4 percent report not having internet at home. So, another conclusion is that the top two items in a dream school are already happening for most students—laptops and Internet access. (Whether or not that access in school is fast enough and universal is another question.)

Some differences between what school leaders would have in a dream school and what students would have should be noted. School leaders ranked digital content, online tutors, tablets, media creation tools, and learning management systems much higher than students in their dream schools.  Students ranked mobile apps, online videos, and digital games much higher in their dream school than did school leaders.

This list of 20+ digital tools and strategies leaves no doubt that the dream school would be technology rich. It also shows the challenge of resourcing a school and training teachers to effectively use the variety of tools already available. It raises the question: Is it possible to keep up? Certainly, keeping up and delivering a dream school will require a reallocation of resources—both money and time.

Forty-one percent of the students said online classes would be part of their dream school (35 percent of school leaders said so). Yet only 3 percent report taking mainly online classes this year. This seems to be an area where schools could close the gap between reality and what is desired. They could deliver more choice and more personalization at a lower cost if they made a digital shift. More than a third (36 percent) of school leaders report already offering online classes and 57 percent report they have no plans to offer them (note: two-thirds of the leaders were not in high schools).

Students reported classes in these subjects as the most desirable for online learning: Computer Science, World Languages, the Arts, Psychology, and college or study skills. These subjects were reported to be most often already taken as an online class: English, Math, and Health. Sevenstar has partner schools offering their Health class online in the summer so students can take more rigorous classes or more fine arts classes in the regular school year.We find that the use cases for online learning are most often due to credit recovery needs or scheduling conflicts. Online classes are typically only utilized when it’s inconvenient to offer a credit in the classroom. Is this a lack of vision for the use of online learning by school leaders to enrich the learning opportunities for students?

The amount of data contained in the Project Tomorrow results provides a wealth of material to guide our decisions as school leaders.

 

The author: Dr. R. Mark Beadle was a Principal for over 20 years before helping to start Sevenstar, an online Christian school that has served over 40,000 students.  He thinks that being an educator today must be one of the best times ever to be involved in helping students. The future is bright with opportunity to make a difference. You can connect with him on Linked In or write mark@sevenstar.org.

*The specific question for school leaders was: “Imagine you are designing a dream school for today’s students. Which of these tools or strategies do you think holds the greatest potential for increasing student achievement and success? (Check all that apply)  More than 2,000 leaders replied, and about 1/3 were at the high school level.

** The specific question for students was: Imagine you are designing your dream school. Which of these tools would have the greatest positive impact on your learning? (Check all that apply) The students were all in high school for the results above and numbered 109,030.

The picture at the top of the article is of a building at the Milton Hershey School (PA).

Allowing the Community to Speak Up to Effect Change (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Tim Smith, Supervisor of Instructional Practice & Technology Integration, Red Lion Area School District (PA). Tim will be sharing steps taken to implement the survey, design the process of change, and future plans and next steps on Wednesday at ISTE 2017.

Every team, at some point, draws a line in the sand. Some even draw that line in concrete. It represents a point at which they’ve had enough of the current or past and are moving forward. That’s tough. For so many, the comfort zone is just that, comfortable. Do the same thing, year in and year out, because that’s what they know. To change requires a physical and intellectual investment of time and resources. It also requires knowledge. Teams have to know what they want to accomplish and how those around them feel about where the organization is and where they want to go.

In the fall of 2016, at the Red Lion Area School District we used the Speak Up survey by Project Tomorrow to empower the students, parents, & community to have a voice and impact the direction of the District. The survey results clearly indicated a need and desire to move to a District-wide blended learning environment.


You see, 81% of our community said they wanted something other than a “traditional classroom,” yet 79% of our teachers provided this type of environment. Is there a disconnect?

And what about our students…?

…it was clear to our team that something needed to change.

What if we did nothing to change the way that we meet the needs of our students?

Without the use of the Speak Up survey, we wouldn’t have seen our needs so clearly. We’ve now embarked on a journey of Digital Conversion in the Red Lion Area School District that will ensure that students will have access to the tools and classroom environments.

At times this has been a challenging process. We have made a few messes, and refocused our efforts. We are truly excited about the the next several months of growth…

Come learn more about our journey and the future by joining me from 9:00 – 9:45 am on June 28 for How the Learning Community Can Speak Up to Create Change at ISTE 2017 during the Leadership Playground.

Original post on Tim Smith’s blog.

2017 Educators Rising California Conferences

We are excited to announce that this year’s conference season was a great success. With a total of over 700+ student attendees, and over 35 workshops offered. This year’s conference data indicates that our conferences bring STEM knowledge, career inspiration and pathway information to attendees.

Each conference was a full-day interactive event for students who are interested in careers in education. The day included an opening Keynote or panel, breakout sessions, college fair and more!

Here are some conference highlights!

San Diego Region Conference

With 250 students in attendance, the first San Diego Region Conference was held at San Diego State University in San Diego, California on February 3rd.

  • Keynote Speaker: David J. Johnson
  • Workshops included:
    • Benefits of Project Based Learning
    • Special Education: A Career Beyond Paperwork
    • Teacher Talk Teaching Panel
    • School Counseling-The Next Generation
    • Building Community: Beyond the Four Walls of Classrooms
  • Colleges and Universities included:
    • University of California, San Diego
    • Azusa Pacific University
    • San Diego City College
    • National University
    • California State University, San Marcos
      and many more…

“The conference was very interesting and informative, as well as interactive. Overall, today was a great experience for me.” -Student

Learn more about the San Diego conference here. Continue reading

Speak Up 7 for 2017: Top digital learning trends in K-12 schools today

Each year, the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning polls K-12 students, parents, and educators about the role of technology for learning in and out of school. This survey represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder voices on digital learning. Since fall 2003, more than 5 million K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians, principals, technology leaders, district administrators, communications officers, and members of the community have shared their views and ideas through Speak Up.

Following are seven trends we are watching based on the more than 514,000 Speak Up surveys submitted from educators, students and parents from October 2016 to January 2017.

1. Funding, the achievement gap and staff morale top the list of superintendents’ concerns.

Over the last six years, the same six issues have topped this list of “what wakes superintendents up at night,” but the levels of concern have intensified.

In 2010, Superintendents said:In 2016, Superintendents said:
Funding (51%)Funding (64%)
Test scores (44%)Achievement gap (48%)
Achievement gap (39%)Staff morale (43%)
Staff morale (39%)College and career skills (38%)
College and career skills (20%)Teacher recruitment (38%)
Teacher recruitment (16%)Test scores (35%)

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Students Take Charge of Learning, Empowered by Technology

Aided by technology, students across the country are self-directing their own learning, no longer waiting for teachers or schools to catch up. More than 400,000 K-12 students shared how and when they learn via the Speak Up 2016 Research Project for Digital Learning.

In our latest Speak Up data release, Ten Things Everyone Should Know about K-12 Students’ Digital Learning, 2017, Project Tomorrow details some of the findings from the student responses:

  • Access to mobile devices in and out of school continues to grow. Over just a two-year period, twice as many students are now using Chromebooks in school (2014 to 2016).
  • Students are using mobile devices to self-direct learning by:
    • doing research on the Internet (84%)
    • looking up class information (59%)
    • creating documents to share (54%)
    • emailing teachers with questions (47%)
    • setting up reminders about class due dates (43%)
    • taking notes (40%)
  • Students are exploring online learning. More than one-third of middle school students say they have already taken an online class in Math, Science and English. The subjects that top their wish list for online classes include: college prep/study skills (58%), art appreciation (58%), world languages (56%), career technical/vocational education (51%) and computer science (47%).
  • More than 1/3 of students say they want to learn about future jobs and careers via online tools: online course, digital game, online videos and social media.

“Students have always self-directed some of their own learning, but with the explosion of mobile devices, 24/7 connectivity and digital resources, students are leaving adults behind as they explore subjects that interest them in the ways they learn best,” said Dr. Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. “Despite all of the opportunity at their fingertips with the growth in educational technology access in schools, more than half (56%) of students say they use technology more often for learning outside of school than in school.”

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