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ensuring that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world. The Speak Up data represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder input on education, technology, 21st century skills, schools of the future and science instruction. Education, business and policy leaders report use the data regularly to inform federal, state and local education programs.

The New Digital Learning Playbook:
Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations

Speak Up 2013 National Findings K-12 Student
April 2014

Report CoverThe New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations is the first in a two part series to document the key national findings from Speak Up 2013.

For the past eleven years, Project Tomorrow’s® annual Speak Up National Research Project has provided schools and districts nationwide and throughout the globe with new insights into how today’s students want to leverage digital tools for learning based upon the authentic, unfiltered ideas of students themselves.  With this year’s national report on the views of 325,279 K-12 students representing over 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts nationwide, we focus on getting beyond the anecdotally- driven stereotypes of student technology use to establish a more comprehensive understanding of the myriad of different ways that students are currently personalizing learning using technology. 


Given the increasing interest amongst education, business, policy, and parent leadership on the value of digital tools to personalize learning and improve student outcomes, this year’s report provides new findings around these three central questions to further both national and local discussions:     

  • How are K-12 students currently using digital tools and resources to support schoolwork activities? 
  • How are K-12 students currently using digital tools and resources to enable out of school time learning activities?
  • What are K-12 students’ aspirations for using digital tools and resources within new innovative learning environments?

Key Findings from this year’s report include:

  • Girls outpace boys in use of many digital tools for learning, particularly the socially based tools like texting and collaborating online.
  • 29 percent of high school boys say that they are very interested in a job or career in a STEM field, but only 19 percent of girls say the same. This gap remains even among girls and boys who self-assess their technology skills as advanced. During the seven years that the Speak Up surveys have polled high school students on their interest in STEM fields, the level of student interest has not increased significantly.
  • Students continue to report less regular interaction with traditional social networking sites like Facebook, while 44 percent of students in grades 6-12 report using social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Nearly one-third of high school students reported using Twitter.
  • One-quarter of students in grades 3-5 and nearly one-third of students in grades 6-12 say that they are using a mobile device provided by their school to support schoolwork (these percentages were greater among Title I schools than non-Title I schools).
  • In four years, the percent of middle school students taking tests online increased from 32 percent to 47 percent.
  • High school students reported a mean average of 14 hours per week using technology for writing.
  • Only one-third of middle school students say that for schoolwork reading, they prefer to read digital materials rather than printed materials; more than half, however, say online textbooks would be an essential component of their “ultimate school.”
  • Digital equity, including to student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today (compared to just 19 percent in 2010).

Speak Up in the News

If you think this data is interesting and would like to gain a better understanding about your stakeholders’ perspectives about the use of technology for learning, participate in Speak Up 2014. The online surveys will be open Oct 6 – Dec 19, 2014 and survey results will be available in Feb 2015.

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