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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 using the data regularly to inform federal, state and local education programs.

Digital Learning 24/7: Understanding Technology — Enhanced Learning in the Lives of Today’s Students

Speak Up 2014 National Findings K-12 Students April 2015

Report CoverDigital Learning 24/7: Understanding Technology — Enhanced Learning in the Lives of Today’s Students is the first in a two part series to document the key national findings from Speak Up 2014.

For the past twelve years, Project Tomorrow’s® annual Speak Up 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. Each year, education, policy, research, and business leaders leverage the Speak Up findings to understand the trends around students’ use of technology, and how schools and communities can better serve the learning needs of today’s digital learners. Speak Up reports over the past few years have focused on connecting the digital dots for learning, mapping a personalized learning journey, and moving from chalkboards to tablets as part of a digital conversion effort.

With this year’s national report on the views of 431,231 K-12 students representing over 8,000 schools and 2,600 districts in the United States and around the world, we focus our attention on the lived experiences of students immersed in daily digital learning experiences. From the Speak Up database, we extract the views and ideas of students in four specific types of learning environments to comprehend how their experiences differ from students in more traditional classroom-based education.  The four learning environments examined include:

  • Students who are using school provided laptops, tablets, or Chromebooks to support their education
  • Students in blended learning environments where instruction is a mix of class time and online time
  • Students whose learning is 100 percent online or virtual
  • Students participating in STEM learning experiences such as specific STEM academies, school tech support team, or computer programming/coding clubs

Key Findings from this year’s report include:

  • Whether driven by parental demands for increased personalization or higher goals for student achievement, many administrators are finding that blended learning environments hold great promise. In fact, 45 percent of district administrators in this year’s Speak Up surveys indicate that the implementation of blended learning models within their district was already yielding positive results.
  • Students in blended environments use technology more frequently than their peers in more traditional classroom settings. In addition to use in the classroom, these students are also more likely to self-direct their learning outside of school by tapping into mobile apps, finding online videos to help with homework, emailing their teachers with questions and posting content they create online for comment.
  • When students have access to technology as part of their learning, especially school-provided or enabled technology, their use of the digital tools and resources is deeper and more sophisticated.
  • The availability of online learning continues to increase with only 27 percent of high school principals reporting that they are not yet offering any online courses for students. Interest among students continues to grow, with 24% of high school students saying they wish they could take all their classes online – a large increase from 8% in 2013.
  • Almost three-quarters of students with school-provided devices as well as students with limited or non-existent technology access at school agreed that every student should be able to use a mobile device during the school day for learning.
  • Students connect the use of technology tools within learning to the development of college, career, and citizenship skills that will empower their future capabilities.
  • Digital experiences for students in a 100 percent virtual environment are much different than those in traditional schools. For instance, 72 percent of high school students in virtual schools take online tests, compared with 58 percent of traditional students.
  • Students see the smartphone as the ideal device for communicating with teachers (46%) and classmates (72%) and for social media (64%).
  • A gender bias exists in STEM interest –middle school girls are 38% less likely and high school girls are 32% less likely than their male peers to say they are very interested in a STEM career.

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 2015. The online surveys will be open Oct 1 – Dec 18, 2015 and survey results will be available in Feb 2016.

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