Category Archives: Uncategorised

New Speak Up Survey to collect information about districts’ needs to support remote online learning

As you may have heard or read, it is anticipated that the US Congress and some state governments will be considering new funding to support school and district investments to provide continuity of learning in their communities impacted by COVID-19. Lots of people are providing suggestions as to what that new funding should include, anticipated to be as much as $2 billion. The suggestion lists include WiFi hotspots, Chromebooks, tablets, laptops, content filtering, digital content, teacher training and more. All are important and necessary but the real problem is that many school and district leaders have not been given an opportunity to weigh in on what they really need in their local communities and how the new funding will impact continuity of learning in their district and community. These decisions are too important to make based upon a hunch, a guess, an outdated assumption or even the wish list of a lobbyist. Let’s get real about this and listen to the experts on the front lines about what they really need.

As you may already know, at Project Tomorrow our mission is built around listening to the authentic voices of K-12 stakeholders including students, parents, teachers and administrators. Since 2003, over 5.7 million education stakeholders have shared their views with us about new learning models including the use of technology and digital tools to support learning in school and out-of-school. That includes asking students about their at-home access to technology since 2003 and specifically about the Homework Gap since 2015. Through our reports, infographics and briefings, the Speak Up data is used annually to inform education programs, policies and funding at the federal, state and local levels. We are therefore pleased and honored to provide an easy and efficient way for K-12 school and district administrators to be part of these national discussions about new funding. The new Speak Up Planning Survey about Needs for Remote Online Learning is now open now for input from school and district leaders. Administrators can access the survey to give input in two ways:

The overall focus of this short 5-minute survey is the following critical question: What are your infrastructure and organizational needs to support remote online learning with your students? Specific questions ask administrators about:

• Priority needs today for mobile devices, hot spots and out of school access infrastructure
• Priority needs for content, apps, teacher support tools and teacher training to support remote online learning
• Challenges associated with school closures and implementation of remote online learning
• Perception on the skill and comfort of teachers to implement various aspects of remote online learning
• What administrators see as the big takeaways from their experience with remote online learning during this COVID-19 crisis

This new data from school and district administrators will help policymakers understand not only what districts need today but what they will need in the future to ensure a continuity of learning over the summer and into the new school year. So, what are we going to do this critical feedback from administrators?

Step #1: Share the aggregated data with policymakers in Washington DC and in states to inform decisions about new funding to support schools and districts during the COVID-19 crisis. We take seriously our role as the unbiased guardian of these feedback and will ensure that the priority needs of our K-12 leaders are heard loud and clear! We will also analyze the data and report on differences by community type, size of district and other attributes that can ensure that a “one size fits none” situation doesn’t occur.

Step #2: We will provide school and district leaders that share their views with us with a comparative Speak Up data report on the responses from their peers and colleagues in their state and nationwide to see how their needs compare with others.  It is our goal that the Speak Up data from this short survey will have a double ROI – helping to ensure that the new funding meets the real needs of schools and districts, and that the comparative data helps enhance local planning and decision-making.

The survey is open to all K-12 school and district administrators. All data collected is kept confidential. We will not share any school or district specific data with any companies, vendors or suppliers. As always, we value our partnership with schools and districts and respect the importance of this data to inform this new potential funding. While we appreciate the need for expediency in supporting K-12 education with new funding, we also believe that it is important the decisions are made based upon the real authentic feedback of our K-12 leaders on the front lines. We encourage district leaders to share this information with their colleagues, both internally and at other districts. And to complete your Speak Up survey today as well! Your voice is critical in this discussion. Thank you for your leadership.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact me directly.  Let’s keep this conversation going!


Julie A. Evans, Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Project Tomorrow

Around the Web Wednesday

Happy Around the Web Wednesday! Browse all the links below for the latest news and topics trending in education and technology. Be sure to let us know which article intrigued you the most!

Mark your calendars – Digital Learning Day is this Friday, March 13th! Not sure what digital learning or Digital Learning Day are? Visit the event’s website for more information. How will you celebrate #DLDay? Let us know by commenting on this post or sharing your ideas on Twitter and Facebook.

The Road To TEACH #SXSWedu

Wednesday, March 11 
12:00PM – 1:30PM 
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Theater 2 
320 East 6th Street
Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? Three college students, all aspiring teachers, embark on a cross-country road trip of self-discovery and adventure and find real-life inspiration from educators, policy makers, social entrepreneurs, and activists who share their own roads to the classroom. We follow Nadia, Rafael, and Grace’s personal journeys as they contemplate their futures and begin to understand the vast opportunities, personal rewards, and vital need for passionate young people to teach. Join the Q&A after the film and discuss how to inspire the next generation to teach.
Grace Worm
Roadtrip Nation – Roadtripper
Julie Evans
Project Tomorrow – CEO
Lisa Zimble
Participant Media/TEACH Campaign – Producer
Mike Marriner
Roadtrip Nation – Co-Founder
Rafael Silva
Roadtrip Nation – Roadtripper

Paying it forward: Leveraging Today’s Female Voices in Ed Tech #SXSWedu

SXSWedu Logo
Tuesday, March 10
3:00PM – 4:00PM
Austin Convention Center Room 12AB
500 East Cesar Chavez Street 

Are you at SXSWedu? Attend Julie Evans’s panel with Dr. Kari Stubbs, Dr. Mila Thomas Fuller, and Dr. Kecia Ray.

This panel brings together female change agents intentionally gathered from across the ed tech space with the hope of examining the unique role women can play at this interesting nexus of education and technology.  The discussion will be anchored around data on the presence, role, and level of influence of female voices in education and will include personal histories and testimonies on the growth in this field.

Join the conversation to hear from and interact with Nashville district leadership, the CEO of Project Tomorrow, a Vice President from BrainPOP, and the Director of the National Council of Teachers of English, all of whom have been national leaders in their field and have lent their expertise and vision to the work of the board of ISTE, the International Society of Technology in Education.  Research has demonstrated that the today’s young girls and women need role models in technology fields to develop self-efficacy in these fields.  While women have dominated the teaching profession for over the past century, the role of women as technology leaders within education is still emerging.

This interactive discussion explores multiple paths to ed tech leadership, including through university doctoral work, leadership with state and federal grants,  school district leadership, lending thought influence to visionary agencies such as Horizon K12 and Digital Promise, research  expertise, corporate America or a membership association, and contributing to the industry conversation through publications and at conferences such as SXSWedu.  The experiences of this diverse panel of education technology leaders will provide invaluable input into new best practices for supporting young girls and women in this field.  Whether you are examining how to further your own personal voice in the space, grow your PLN and exploring new professional career paths, or you are interested in how to leverage the experiences of women who are currently in this field to mentor and coach the next great generation of female ed tech leaders, this is a conversation you won’t want to miss.

Around the Web Wednesday

Happy Around the Web Wednesday! Browse all the links below for the latest news and topics trending in education and technology. Be sure to let us know which article intrigued you the most!

Memo #4 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France
February 26, 2015

This year’s Mobile Learning Week was a collaboration of UNESCO and UN-Women.  The collaboration led to a unique theme of how to empower women and girls with mobile devices.  The keynotes, panels and breakout sessions therefore focused on this intersection of technology and gender, and the topic of gender-sensitivity was front and center throughout the week.  But let’s be candid.  Some people do not know what gender-sensitivity means, and too many people have misunderstandings and wrong assumptions around women and girls’ interests in mobile learning.  My goal with this blog posting is to demystify the important topic based upon the research that we did for this week’s workshop. Let’s jump in by examining this gender-sensitivity from several levels!

Why is this topic important? 
Based upon the Speak Up data as well as results from several mobile learning evaluations conducted by Project Tomorrow, we have observed that mobile learning has a gender component.  When students are asked about how they want to use a mobile device to support their learning, girls and boys have different aspirations for schoolwork usage. For example, middle school boys want to use a mobile device to find online videos to help them with homework. Comparatively, middle school girls are often more interested in using their smartphone or tablet for collaborations with classmates, taking notes in class and communicating with classmates and teachers. Despite best efforts, instructional materials including digital content that are used with mobile devices may not be as gender sensitive as they could be.  Given that reality, it makes sense that we should dig more deeply into how digital tools and resources are either reinforcing or debunking traditional gender based norms and/or stereotypes. The goal therefore should be to more gender-sensitive or responsive in our plans for and use of those digital tools so that all students have an equitable opportunity for education.

What is the definition of gender-sensitivity?  
There is an extensive body of research on the many terms used when discussing gender issues in education including gender-unequal, gender-blind, gender-specific and gender-sensitive.  Per the research, the three defining characteristics of gender-sensitivity are as follows:

  • Gender-sensitivity considers gender norms, role and relationships
  • It takes into account the impact of policies, projects and programs on women/girls and men/boys
  • And it tries to mitigate negative consequences of the gender impact.

Comparatively, gender-blind see no differences between how girls and boys approach instructional materials or technology.  Instructional materials that are gender-unequal or bias are developed to favor one gender over another.  Gender-specific is similar but without the inherent negative consequences.

How can we become more gender-sensitive in our selection of instructional materials for use in classrooms by girls and boys?
As noted above, the research on this topic including case studies and implications for a wide range of instructional materials is available through multiple sources.  However, despite the extensiveness of the research, there is surprisingly very few resources that could be used by a teacher, school or district to evaluate the tools and content that they are using within instruction. For our workshop on Monday, therefore, we developed that kind of tool that can help you identify the gender-sensitivity of the digital content you may be using with students right now.  The Guide for Evaluating Gender-Sensitivity within Digital Content includes a list of “questions for consideration.”  The questions are categorized into four themes:  categorization, imagery and language, storyline and results.  While the guide will not give you a grade or score for your digital content, it will help to instigate new discussions around gender-sensitivity, the use of digital content within instruction, and education equity.  The best news is that you can access this guide on our website.  Check out both versions of the guide (one for digital content and a similar one for digital games) at  If you use the guide within your school, district or organization, let us know your thoughts on this new tool.

Memo #3 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France

February 25, 2015

While all of the keynotes, plenary sessions and small group discussions at Mobile Learning Week have been fabulous, my personal favorite so far has been a panel discussion on the intersection of mobile devices, girls and literacy.  As I tweeted earlier today, it was hard to keep up with all of the insightful comments, ideas and suggestions from the rock star panel.  Speak of rock stars, check out this panel lineup – and if you don’t know these folks, I highly recommend that you Google them and connect with them on social media. That is exactly what I did today!

  • Shaheen Attiqu-Ur-Rahman (Bunyad Literacy Council)
  • Gulser Corat (UNESCO)
  • Shafika Isaacs (International Education Consultant)
  • Matt Keller (XPrize Foundation)
  • Steve Vosloo (Pearson, South Africa)
  • Dan Wagner (University of Pennsylvania)

It is hard to digest the entire 70 minute panel discussion in one blog posting, but here are 5 key takeaways that 12 hours later I am still thinking about.  Remember, the topic was about how mobiles can enhance literacy for all people, especially girls.

  1. Mobile devices enable two-way communications for adults and kids to comment and discuss what they are reading.  A printed book does not allow you to give immediate feedback on the content or to facilitate a discussion with folks around the world.
  2. The inclusion of mobiles into discussions around how to improve literacy is actually instigating new conversations about what we mean when we say literacy in 2015.  The expanded version of literacy now seems to include not just reading, but different forms of writing including commentary, ICT or technology literacy skills, and critical thinking skills.
  3. As per Ms. Attiq-Ur-Rahman, mobiles enable women in particular to have a voice; having that voice supports greater self-confidence and efficacy; having that new self-image promote the ability to create changes that impact women’s lives.  Those changes can positively impact not only the woman, but also her children, her family, her community and her society.
  4. Having a stake and a voice in her life empowers the woman or girl to think beyond simply being a consumer of content and technology, and instead becoming a creator of digital tools and resources.
  5. Mobile devices, wireless technology and mobile learning resources are uniquely qualified to nurture, support and sustain changes in how all people, adults and youth, look at their world and their place within it.  The ability to tap into knowledge through your fingertips, to have tools in the palm of your hand to support learning, and to be able to conveniently and effectively follow a passion for learning or entrepreneurship may seem second nature today in the US, but in most of the developing world, these are dramatic game changers. Despite this potential, a unique refrain throughout this week has been the challenge of how to scale and sustain mobile learning projects.  Much more work is needed here in both the developed and developing world.

Tomorrow in our 4th Memo from Mobile Learning Week I am going to discuss the issue of gender sensitivity and digital learning.  This has very direct implications for how we are going to universally tackle the sticky challenge of scale and sustainability.  Despite that, I am impressed that UNESCO in collaboration with UN-Women has taken on this big topic of women, girls and mobiles for this year’s MLW.  While there were many very thoughtful leaders talking about this topic during the Symposium, let’s be candid: too many people have misunderstandings and wrong assumptions around women and girls’ interests in mobile learning.  My goal with tomorrow’s blog posting is to demystify it a bit based upon the research that we did for this week’s workshop.  Stay tuned!

Memo #2 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France
February 24, 2015
It is not often that I have the opportunity to attend a conference and focus on my own learning. Too often, I am consumed by preparation for my own sessions and presentations without any time to really absorb the energy or ideas generated by the event itself.  Not today.  Not at MLW2015.  With over 500 attendees representing over 80 countries here at this week’s Mobile Learning Week, I cannot help but sit back and be a student at this conference.  Here are 3 things that I learned today that I wanted to share with you.
1.       There are so many innovative and amazing projects involving mobile devices and digital content going on all around the globe.  With this week’s focus on women and girls, the projects are even more interesting for their emphasis on female empowerment and equity of opportunity.  I am also so impressed with the passion of the project leaders – whether that is a nonprofit/NGO, a government agency, an affiliate of the United Nations, or a company – everyone is excited and eager to share their story, what they have learned from their projects, and ask for help where needed.  The spirit of partnership development is alive and well here.  However, just as we see in the US conferences, too many projects are still “campfires of innovation” without any real plans or processes in place to scale, replicate or sustain their efforts.  Scaling projects is tough work – and often takes a different set of skills than project implementation.  I learned that this challenge is truly a universal one and that is actually good news. It means that there is a unique opportunity to share ideas and strategies beyond borders – and with a greater number of participants.  Two (or two million) brains are better than one on these types of challenges!
2.       Cherie Blair of the Cherie Blair Foundation forWomen was a speaker at today’s Symposium. Her foundation is doing important work supporting women’s education especially in terms of driving self-sufficiency and economic development.  They are a high impact nonprofit organization that has focused on collaborative projects to extend their impact – smart.  I was especially impressed with how they are engaging with technology to support their mission.  Mrs. Blair gave several examples of using mobile devices and blended learning help women develop the skills they need to be successful entrepreneurs in Africa.  My takeaway from her talk was some new ideas around how digital tools such as mobile devices can not only extend learning for students, but can be employed to support life-long, life-wide, life-deep learning in all kinds of communities, with all kinds of different goals.  In that sense, mobile provides a way for the learning to come directly to the learner.
3.       One of the day’s high profile panels was about providing equitable access to women and girls and thus, equalizing opportunity. The panel was top notch and included speakers from Intel, the Wikipedia Foundation and Mozilla amongst others.  All women, all passionate about equity, opportunity and the future.  I was especially impressed with Doreen Bogdan, who is the Chief of Strategic Planning and Membership for ITU, the International Telecommunications Union, a specialized agency with the United Nations.  The mission of this agency is to connect the world – simple task.  Her remarks focused on the need to connect more girls to technology careers and she shared some startling statistics on the decrease over the last few years in women’s interest in STEM careers.  We have tracked through the Speak Up data the lack of any real movement in terms of increasing girls’ interest in STEM fields, but the idea that we are slipping backwards was frightening.  ITU supports an interesting initiative called “Girls in ICT Day” which is a global event to shine a light on technology career opportunities for girls and women.  This year the event will be held on April 23.  As someone who has spent a career in the technology field, this hits home to me.  Check this out – and let me know how you think we can work together on this with your organization, school or district.
Wednesday is the second day of the two day Mobile Learning Symposium.  The Symposium includes inspiring keynotes and plenary sessions – and a myriad of small, Tedtalk like sessions on all kinds of topics related to girls, women and mobile learning.  Another full day of learning!  Be part of the experience by following me on Twitter (@JulieEvans_PT).  I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow my insights from this event (and the people I am meeting) in our Memo #3 from Mobile Learning Week 2015!

Memo #1 from Mobile Learning Week 2015

Paris, France
February 23, 2015
According to Dr. Patience Stephens, Director/Special Advisor on Education for UN-Women, it is no longer appropriate or tolerable to do a minimalist job of providing girls and women with the tools they need to improve their lives – most notably with a second-class education. What a true statement – so obvious, but still not reality, especially not in many places around the globe.  With that inspiration and a call to more fully examine how mobile devices in particular can enable and empower change for girls and women, this year’s Mobile Learning Week 2015 was off to a great start.  Today was the workshop day of the weeklong event and I was honored to be chosen from a field of 70 proposals to lead one of the 12 workshops today.  Additionally, our good friend, Dr. Kari Stubbs, Vice President of Innovation and Learning at BrainPOP asked me to participate in her workshop to provide Speak Up research support.  It was a fun and exciting day examining the intersections of STEM, digital learning, games, coding, mobile devices – and girls!  I am excited to share with you 2 big takeaways based upon the workshops today that I hope may lead to deeper discussions on these important issues in your schools, districts, organizations and communities. If they do, I would love to hear back from you!
Take-away #1:  The morning workshop was led by the BrainPOP team and focused on girls’ interest in playing learning games, creating their own games, and learning how to code using mobile devices. Speak Up data provided the contextual background for many of the learning experiences within this workshop.  What I especially liked was the high level of audience participation and interactivity within the workshop.  Participants had multiple opportunities to play different kinds of games and even try their hand at coding.  While playing learning games is always fun, the play/learn experiences was grounded in examining the content through the lens of gender-sensitivity.  While it may seem easy to identify Game X as a “boy-oriented” game and Game Y as “girl-focused,” the audience quickly realized that those superficial stereotypes were inconclusive.  Using a guide developed by Project Tomorrow for this workshop, the participants had a chance to do a deeper dive as game and content evaluators and in the process, learned a lot of about their own biases and potential blindness to gender issues in digital content, games and other instructional materials.  The guide is available with other workshop materials at   We already know that the inclusion of mobile devices increases student engagement in learning. But what if we could prove that using mobile devices helps create more gender-responsive, transformative learning environments for all students?    We have much more work to do in this arena but I was excited to see the level of interest in this topic amongst the Mobile Learning Week attendees.
Take-away #2:  In the afternoon workshop, the focus was on how to design, implement and evaluate a gender-sensitive mobile learning project.  I led this workshop with support this time from Dr. Stubbs. Based upon Project Tomorrow research in this area, we shared a new way of thinking about the evolution of a mobile planning project from a gender-sensitivity perspective, starting from the identification of your project purpose through the synthesis of research data to share with stakeholders.  But first we had to review what we meant by gender-sensitivity.  A simplified version is basically becoming more aware of gender norms, roles and relationships and how those inherent or un-intended biases or opinions influences students’ learning. The real goal here is to develop new mobile learning projects that recognize gender issues and then, strategically and deliberately create ways to minimize the impact of any gender-blind or unequal priorities or values. As you might imagine these workshop topics instigated new questions and ideas about understanding and identifying gender-sensitivity.  Several points that the audience made on this topic intrigued me; I need to do more thinking on several of the points raised. However, several questions came up as to whether the goal of gender-sensitivity was to right the wrongs of the past in terms of unequal learning opportunities for girls, or to aim for how gender issues can be mitigated to the point of truly equal education for all genders. Both approaches are important to consider especially because in some communities, there is an emerging “boy crisis” where male students are feeling like second class citizens in their schools and that perception is affecting their school performance.  Sound familiar?  So, how do we really design, implement and evaluate new mobile learning projects that enable girls to reach for the stars in educational opportunities while not dashing the dreams and aspirations of their brothers?   I have a few suggestions.  Check out the PowerPoint from today’s workshop.  Spoiler alert – the powerpoint includes brand new data findings from Speak Up 2014. Review, enjoy and pass it on:
Tuesday is the first day of the two day Mobile Learning Symposium.  The Symposium includes inspiring keynotes and plenary sessions – and a myriad of small, TedTalk like sessions on all kinds of topics related to girls, women and mobile learning.  It is going to be a full day.  Be part of the experience by following me on Twitter (@JulieEvans_PT).  I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow my new learnings from this event in our Memo #2 from Mobile Learning Week 2015!