Tag Archives: Educational Technology

Estella’s Brilliant Bus Brings Technology to You!

Estella Pyfrom understands the importance of technology and its effect on learning. During her years as a guidance counselor, the CNN Heroes of 2013 nominee realized that few students had access to a computer after school. This lack of technology in students’ households was due to the economy: families prioritized their money and used it towards basic needs (i.e. food, rent) rather than towards technology. Because of this, Pyfrom feared these students would fall behind due to the large increase of technology in everyday use.
This concern is what launched Estella’s Brilliant Bus. In 2011 Pyfrom bought a bus and filled it with computers in order to provide technology to children. With her bus, she is hoping that less fortunate children are able to receive the same opportunities as other children. According to the Institute of the Study of Labor, “students who lack access to a home are less likely to graduate high school.” With Estella’s Brilliant Bus, Pyfrom and her volunteers target children ages three and up, providing classes and tutoring sessions on Internet basics, reading, math, and science classes. Older students are able to receive GED and college preparatory assistance, peer mediation classes, and even leadership training.
Through Estella’s Brilliant Bus, Pyfrom and her team have provided over 8,000 hours of computer education to at least 500 children a year. She has seen students benefit in both academics and life skills just by receiving one-on-one time with a computer. She hopes to not only see her services spread throughout the country, but also continue to help students keep up with technology’s rapidly growing presence in the world.
To read more about Estella’s Brilliant Bus, please check out the CNN article, ‘Brilliant Bus’ shrinking digital divide or visit the Estella’s Brilliant Bus website.
Are you part of a community group, non-profit, or association working with children, parents, educators or members of the community? Interested in their use of technology? Get involved with Speak Up! Schools and districts are not the only participants collecting data from this valuable survey, many organizations are using Speak Up data to help with their own planning. If you are interested in getting your organization involved, please contact Jenny Hostert on the Speak Up Team at jhostert@tomorrow.org
Speak Up is open to anyone interested in participating and sharing their thoughts on critical 21st century education and technology issues. Take the survey today at: www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013 and be sure to share with your network of friends and family! Every voice counts!
Thank you for reading and have a great day!
-Project Tomorrow Team
Written by: Lisa Chu UCI Fall Intern 2013

National Technology Survey of Students, Educators and Parents Open Through December 20th

Speak Up 2013 Asks about Technology Use in and Out of School, How Parents are Learning about Common Core State Standards and Bandwidth Capacity for Digital Content

Online Survey: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/

Irvine, Calif. – This year’s Speak Up annual surveys continue to pave new ground in education technology research by polling K-12 students, educators and parents about the use of mobile devices, online classes, games and digital content within learning.  As more students have their own smartphones, tablets and laptops, this year’s Speak Up 2013 surveys will ask school districts and teachers about the growing trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.  Additionally, in light of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, Speak Up is also asking educators this year about their school’s bandwidth capacity to better understand if schools have enough Internet access to support the use of high quality digital content such as videos and animations within classroom instruction. 
For the first time, Project Tomorrow, the national organization that facilitates the annual Speak Up surveys, will also provide a special online survey for community members.  Local employers, after school providers, school board members and homeowners without children in the local schools can now provide their views on the role of technology in preparing students for the jobs and careers of the 21st century.   This new set of data will provide valuable insights for schools and districts as well as state and federal policymakers on the importance of digital tools and resources for college and career readiness.   Additionally, both parents and community members will also be asked about their awareness of the new Common Core State Standards, and the sources, both digital and non-digital, of their information about the new standards. 
With the upcoming implementations of these new curriculum standards and associated online assessments, students’ writing abilities are more important than ever.  Correspondingly, the new Speak Up surveys also ask parents, teachers and administrators to comment on the impact of technology on students’ writing abilities.  
After more than a decade and 3 million participants, Speak Up continues to be the only annual, national survey to ask students, educators and parents how they use of  – 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 21st century school and to identify the technology tools that would be essential to support increased student achievement and learning. 
“The plethora of digital tools and resources available to educators today, from tablets to digital books, makes it challenging for school leaders to know how to make the right decisions and sound investments,” noted Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow.  “Speak Up provides an easy and no-cost way for these leaders to gain valuable input from the key stakeholders in education – the students, their parents, teachers, administrators and now, even community members – to support new technology plans, policies  and decisions.”    
The national online Speak Up 2013 survey is open now until December 20th.
The Speak Up online surveys will be completed by more than 400,000 K-12 students, educators and parents around the country. The results provide important insights about education, technology and student aspirations that are used every year by individual schools, districts, state departments of education and national leaders.
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.
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 2014. 
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 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,  K12, Inc., Rosetta Stone, Schoolwires and SMART Technologies.
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.
Past Speak Up national reports are available at www.tomorrow.org/speakup/speakup_reports.html.
For additional information, visit www.tomorrow.org

Kick off to Speak Up 2013! Surveys are now open for input through Dec. 20th!

Happy October to all of our followers and supporters!
We hope the beginning of the month has treated you all well.
This Blog Post is specifically dedicated to the launch of SPEAK UP 2013! Below, you’ll find all the information you need on what’s new for 2013. Happy Reading, and remember to Speak Up now through December 20th!
–The Project Tomorrow team
1. Speak Up 2013 Questions
2. Registering for Speak Up
3. New changes to Speak Up 2013
4. Taking the Surveys
5. Speak Up 2013 Promotional Materials
New Questions about Gaming, Writing, Student Digital Footprints
Speak Up is officially open for input now through December 20th, 2013 at http://www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013!
This year, students will again be asked about their use of mobile tools, social networks and gaming as part of their learning in and out of the classroom. The survey will explore the concept of gaming in learning a little deeper this year to provide a comparison to similar questions asked in 2009. Students will also be asked about how they manage their digital footprints (i.e. the information about them that is available online).
Teachers and administrators will be asked about how technology used in the classroom, what they think new teachers need to know about technology use and how prepared they are for technology use. Parents will be asked about how their children use technology for learning, about their level of support for technology use in schools and familiarity with common core assessments.
For the first time, students and educators will be asked about how technology is being used (or not used) to teach and improve writing skills. Also new this year is a survey for community members, including child care providers, business leaders, grandparents, school board members, or anyone interested in local schools. Please be sure to share the Speak Up surveys with your network of friends and family- every voice counts! Together, let’s work towards leveraging technology to promote enhanced learning in our K-12 schools!
Additional questions topics include: learning and teaching with technology, 21st century skills, games, STEM career exploration, online and blended learning, flipped classrooms, mobile devices, digital and online textbooks, writing with technology, professional development, school-to-home communications, digital citizenship, and common core assessments.
To view PDF copies of the Speak Up 2013 questions, please visit our website at: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/speakup_surveys.html

Registering for Speak Up 2013
After more than a decade and 3 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.
All schools (public, charter and private) are eligible to participate in Speak Up—all you have to do is encourage your students, teachers, parents, administrators and community members to go online and take the 20 minute survey at: www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013now through December 20th! *Please note students will need a secret word to access the survey, which can be assigned during the primary contact registration process.
Get your school(s) and local community involved today! Sign up as the primary contact of your school or district to manage your information and assign an administrative password to access your local data starting February 5, 2014 (in celebration of Digital Learning Day).
You may sign up as a primary contact for your district via our website http://www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013/Register.aspx, or if you prefer, we are more than willing to complete the registration process for you– All you have to do is click here to send us an email with your registration request. Please include the name of your district or school, and state. We will then send you a follow up email with a PDF of your school list and passwords to confirm that your district/school has been registered.
For more information on registering as the primary contact please visit: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/MainContactInformation.htmlor our FAQ page

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New Changes to Speak Up 2013
New Features include:
All schools and districts will be automatically registered to participate (listed as active). No longer need to register a school to take the survey, but school and district administrators are encouraged to sign up as the primary contact to manage school(s) information and assign an administrative password to gain access to local data come Feb. 2014!
Educators and parents will not be required to enter a survey password.
New survey created for Community members and Business Partners. So please be sure to take the survey today and share with your network of friends and family.
State Specific pages, check here to view your state specific page.
Lastly, we are excited to announce that this year we will be offering badges to all educators that complete the survey, we should hopefully have these available to participants a little later this week. *If you’ve already taken the survey, please contact the Speak Up Team for your badge at: speakup@tomorrow.org.
Instructions on How to Take the Survey
It’s quick and easy to get involved in Speak Up, to take the survey follow these 5 simple steps:
2. Click on the appropriate survey button
3. Follow the given instructions to access the survey. Begin by clicking on the drop down button and select your state, then go to the next line and type in your school name (community members select a school within your local community)
4. Students will be required to enter in their district’s survey password “secret word”. Educators, parents and community members are not required to enter in a survey password.
5. Complete the survey by December 20th, 2013
Not sure which survey to take? Visit our Tips on Deciding which Survey to Take, to help you select the survey that best meets your needs. http://www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013/TipsDeciding.aspx

Our helpful and handy promotional materials are here to help you spread awareness surrounding speak up!
Our newly updated promotional material pageprovides schools and districts with guides, e-mail templates, tweet lists, banners, and more!
To get started we suggest posting the Speak Up link http://www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013, dates (now-12/20) and survey password on your school calendar and/or websites as well as promoting/encouraging participation of the survey during back to school night activities & PTA meetings.
Below you will find NEW promotional materials that explain both the background and benefits of participation to help get the word out about Speak Up.
General Speak Up Information Flyer
Start spreading the word about Speak Up to your community! Share this speak up flyer with your staff, parents and local community members. Provides background information on the Speak Up Research project, available surveys, question topics and benefits of participation. Also great as an email, newsletter or blog template!
Teacher Invitation Flyer
This informational flyer is a great way to create awareness about the survey to teachers. The flyer explains the background of the Speak Up project and the importance of participation by teachers and their students. Also provides simple step by steps instructions for teachers to access the survey. *Similar flyers available for Students and Parents.
Speak Up 2013 Event Banners
Provide easy access to the Speak Up surveys by embedding one of our URL linked Speak Up banners on your district or school’s homepage, blogs or social media outlets, in your email’s signature or sharing the banner with other community websites (such as your city or county’s website).
Lesson Plans
Having your students take the survey in class? Use one of our Speak Up Lesson plans to facilitate participation. Also great activity for sub plans or before fall/winter break! K-2, 3-5 and 6-12 are now available for download.
Group Survey Instructions
If you are administering the survey as a group exercise, please download our group survey instructions. Includes a copy of the survey questions and a place to mark your collected responses. Group surveys are available for K-2 students, Parents, Parents (Spanish) and Community Members/Business Partners.
For more ideas, please check out our promo material pages website at: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/promo.html
Not part of a school or district- help get the word out with our Partner Promotional Material Tools. If your organization is interested in partnering with Project Tomorrow this year to assist with outreach to your contacts, please contact Jenny Hostert at jhostert@tomorrow.org. For a list of Speak Up partners and sponsors please visit our website.
Thank you for your interest and continued support in Speak Up! We look forward to your participation in Speak Up 2013! Be sure to stay updated on all things Speak Up by following us on Facebook, Twitter and our Blog.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Speak Up Team at speakup@tomorrow.org or via phone at 949/609-4660 ext. 17.