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Speak Up 2014 Snapshots for Educators

This is a special blog posting by Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, to share some selected , preliminary data findings from Speak Up 2014 (data collected from October 6 – November 25 from 16,200 parents of school aged children nationwide). The final data results will be published in a series of national reports in spring 2015.

Mobiles for learning? Parents say yes!

Over the past 12 years, some of the most significant data findings from the Speak Up surveys have revolved around mobile devices and their use within the classroom. While we continue each year to uncover new findings about how teachers and students are using laptops, tablets and smartphones to support learning, both in school and at home, I think the data from parents about their opinions on mobile learning, and their willingness to support this trend should be of equal importance to school and district leaders. Parents not only mobilists themselves (users of mobile devices) but increasingly they also see these devices as essential learning tools for their children.

When asked to identify the benefits of student use of mobile devices within instruction, parents’ top responses in this year’s Speak Up surveys reflect a triad of core advantages associated with digital learning.

First, parents see mobile devices as providing their students with a gateway to increased access to learning content, most notably online textbooks (71 percent). Parents place a high value on the role of digital content within learning today – and laptops, tablets, digital readers and even smartphones are an easy and convenient way for students to use that content anytime, anywhere. The component of “anywhere learning” is further facilitated by the second core advantage of mobile devices. Parents like the idea that their children could use a mobile to review class materials afterschool (67 percent), thus extending the learning day beyond the traditional 3 pm school bell. This extension of the classroom experience, enabled by the mobile devices, also appears to yield an additional benefit of improving school to home communications for many parents as well (59 percent). Finally, the third core advantage of mobile learning is the idea that these compelling, always on devices can increase student engagement in learning. Almost 6 out of 10 parents say that increasing student engagement is a significant benefit of incorporating laptops and tablets within classroom instruction; teachers and administrators agree!

Parents’ perceptions about the benefits of mobile devices are more than a hypothetical discussion however. Half of all parents of school aged children who completed a Speak Up survey this year said they would like their child to be in a class where he/she could use their own mobile device to support learning. While administrators’ views on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies is changing, this vote of approval for that kind of policy change should be a wakeup call for many school districts today. Equally compelling for district leaders, parents appear to be willing to support that aspiration with a financial investment. While 14 percent of parents say that they have already purchased a mobile device for their child to use specifically in school for academic purposes, an additional 44 percent say they would be willing to purchase a device for their child to use in class if school policy allowed for that.

Want to understand how supportive your school parents are for mobile learning? Every school and district that participates in Speak Up and promotes the surveys to their parents, students and staff, receives a free report with both local and national data findings. Speak Up 2014 surveys are open for input until December 19. Local reports will be available February 5. Here is your link to the surveys: https://speakup.tomorrow.org2014/

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