Tag Archives: homework gap

Teachers’ Readiness and Willingness to Adopt Digital Tools for Learning

At the ASU GSV Summit this week, we explored the current state of teachers’ readiness and willingness to adopt digital tools for learning with Alan Arkatov from USC Rossier School of Education, Ann Linson from East Noble School Corporation and Jessie Woolley-Wilson from DreamBox Learning.

Everyone see lots of technology in schools these days, but is that technology also changing teaching and learning? The classrooms of today still look a whole lot like the classrooms of yesterday:

Yes, the chalkboard is a white board and paper and pencils have been replaced with laptops, but other than that? Beyond the physical differences we see in classrooms, the other changes we have seen are minimal – despite the opportunities technology presents to transform learning.

While new Speak Up data shows us evidence of external indicators of change, they also indicate the lack of real systematic changes in activities, attitudes or aspirations of teachers. More than 38,000 teachers shared their views as part of the Speak Up 2016 Research Project for Digital Learning from October 2016 to January 2017.

More than two-thirds of teachers report external indicators of change:

  • Using more videos in the classroom
  • Texting with colleagues
  • Relying upon cloud applications more
  • Being in classrooms with student access to devices

But fewer than one-third say they:

  • Use online primary sources within instruction
  • Facilitate a class blog or discussion forum
  • Use an online curriculum with students
  • Create investigations for students w/digital tools
  • Engage in online professional learning communities

When we look at impact of technology, 75 percent of teachers say mobile devices increase student engagement, but only 35 percent say mobile devices improve the quality of student work. Engagement is important, but we are all looking for the investments in technology to contribute to improved academic results – like the quality of student work.

When we look at how teachers are using data, we see a real lack of systemic change. Teachers tell us they are most likely to use data derived from digital/online resources to:

  • Communicate with parents, students and school leaders about progress
  • Collaborate with other teachers

These are activities teachers have always done and they are very important, but they would do these regardless of technology.

But, teachers report they are least likely to use data in the ways that will really change their teaching practice, such as using data to:

  • Identify at-risk students or students needing more advanced coursework
  • Design personalized learning paths for each student
  • Identify promising instructional strategies for replication
  • Work with individual students on learning goals

When we see more teachers using data for these purposes, then we will be seeing systemic change.

Speak Up also asks teachers and administrators about their attitudes towards technology. How important is it? You can see that administrators at the district and school level see the effective implementation of technology as much more important to student success than teachers do.

These values are reflected in classrooms and practice.

Students tell us they use the Internet to help them with homework on a daily and weekly basis. More than 100,000 high school students shared their views and experience during Speak Up 2016. Nearly half (48 percent) said they use online or Internet resources daily or almost daily to support their schoolwork. But the same percent of teachers (48 percent) say they rarely or never assign homework that requires Internet access. That’s a disconnect between how students are learning and how teachers are teaching.

We asked teachers what type of support they need to be able to use technology more effectively in their teaching practice. Their top requests for support were:

  • Professional development
  • Planning time
  • Devices for student use
  • Technology support

These needs are important, of course, and should not be minimized but at this point, we would all like to see teachers thinking more deeply about what will make a difference in their capacity to use technology more effectively to change and improve their own teaching practice.

To that end, fewer than one-quarter of teachers said they need the types of support that will lead to changed teaching practice like:

  • Information on classroom management strategies
  • Curated or recommended sets of resources
  • Access to online tools for organization of online or digital content
  • Rubrics for evaluating digital content quality
  • Coaching on high impact lesson plan development

More teachers than ever are now teaching in classrooms where every student has a device that’s connected to the Internet. Yet, just a quarter of teachers need support on classroom management strategies? More and more online resources are available every day, so why is there is little demand for curation and organization tools?

When we look at the teacher adoption of technology, it seems we’ve moved along the path of familiarity, access and adoption fairly well, but adaptation and innovation are lagging. Why?

Is it about the tools, training or professional learning, levels of support, risk taking, personal attitudes, something else? How do we help develop teacher readiness, capacity and agency to use technology beyond the external indicators already in evidence to get to real systemic change?


In fall 2016, Project Tomorrow surveyed 435,510 K-12 students, 38,512 teachers and librarians, 4,592 administrators, 29,670 parents and 5,846 community members representing more than 7,000 public and private schools and 2,400 districts. Schools from urban (26%), suburban (38%), and rural (36%) communities are represented. Just over one-half of the schools (58%) that participated in Speak Up 2016 are Title I eligible schools (an indicator of student population poverty). The Speak Up 2016 surveys were available online for input between October 2016 and January 2017.

Learn about the homework gap at next week’s CA STEM Symposium!

If you’re attending the 2016 California STEM Symposium in Anaheim next week, don’t miss Julie’s session about the homework gap! Check out the details below:

The Impact of the Homework Gap on STEM Education
Monday, October 11 at 11am PT
Room 204 C, Anaheim Convention Center
Click here to learn more

As digital content, tools and resources are increasingly used within K-12 instruction, there is an amplified demand for safe and consistent Internet and technology connectivity for all students outside of school. Failure to address this new type of digital divide is becoming a social justice and educational equity issue. This is especially critical when we think about the value of STEM resources to drive students’ development of key workplace and college skills.

In this session, we will share the latest California and national level Speak Up data on the extent of the “homework gap” where students do not regular access to safe and consistent to technology and the Internet when they are beyond the boundaries of their school. Access from a parent’s smart phone is no longer sufficient to support students in flipped or blended learning environments. The Speak Up data documents where students are accessing the Internet for homework (14% of California high school students say they are doing their digital homework at an fast food restaurant or coffee shop), students’ attitudes about the importance of out of school access (64% of students say this is important for student success) and what California districts are doing or thinking about doing to resolve this equity issue. Using the research data as the foundation, we will then engage the session participants in a discussion about what they doing to address this issue in their school, and what policy/program/funding supports they believe ar needed to eliminate the homework gap. Additionally, given that science teachers are the most likely to be using technology within their instructional plans (per the Speak Up 2015 data), we will also discuss the implications of this new digital disconnect on science education in particular. Of special note will be how today’s students are increasingly using digital tools to self-direct learning in science and the impact of the disparity in home connectivity on students’ interests in STEM education and careers.

Audience members will leave this session with a clarified vision on the extent of the homework gap issue in CA, and especially how this trend is impacting science instruction in California classrooms right now.

To learn more about attending the 2016 California STEM Symposium, please click here.


Are you near Washington DC? Attend NCTET’s special homework gap briefing on June 6!

Our friends from the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) are hosting a special Congressional briefing on Monday, June 6 about the homework gap. This event features remarks from our very own Julie Evans – learn more below:


When: June 6, 2016   1:00-2:30
Where: 904 Hart Senate Office Building

In this installment of the Seizing Opportunity in the Digital Age Congressional briefing series, the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) will discuss the progress made by the FCC and Congress in closing the “homework gap”: the chasm that exists between students who have home access to high speed broadband and those who do not. In addition to highlighting changes wrought through the Every Student Succeeds Act and the FCC’s recent Lifeline Modernization Order, this session will also explore the work that remains to be done to ensure all students have access to high speed broadband in the classroom as well as at home.

This event will feature remarks from:

  • Senator Angus King (I-ME)
  • FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
  • Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans
  • Albemarle County Public Schools (VA) CIO Vincent Scheivert

Please RSVP by June 5th at info@nctet.org

Interested in learning more about the homework gap before attending this event? Click here to view our Speak Up 2015 homework gap data. We look forward to seeing you at this event!

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.