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The New Digital Learning Playbook, Advancing College and Career Ready Skill Development in K-12 Schools

Speak Up 2013 National Findings: Teachers, Administrators and Parents
June 2014

“As schools and districts move ahead with plans to leverage technology to support college and career readiness, it is important to keep three essential factors in mind: the context of the usage of digital tools, the relevancy of those tools to the student, and how the usage, both in and out of the classroom, is supported by the overall education community”

–Dr. Julie A.Evans, CEO—Project Tomorrow


Report CoverThe New Digital Learning Playbook, Advancing College and Career Ready Skill Development in K-12 Schools is the second 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.

In our first report on the findings from the 2013 Speak Up National Research Project, The New Digital Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations,” we provided thought-provoking new insights into how today’s students are already tapping into digital tools, both in and out of school, to personalize learning and to self-prepare themselves for future college or career success.

The findings discussed in this report are based upon the online Speak Up surveys completed in fall 2013 by 39,986 teachers and librarians and 4,530 school, district and technology administrators representing 9,005 schools and 2,710 districts nationwide. Additionally, as part of the important capacity discussion, we also highlight the views of both parents of school-aged children (32,151) and community members at large (1,346) about the linkages between school, technology, and students’ future success.

In this new digital learning playbook, we aim to address four key questions:

  • How do K-12 education stakeholders define college and career ready skills, especially within the context of digital learning?  
  • How are classroom teachers using digital tools and resources to support students’ development of college and career ready skills?
  • How are schools and districts building up both their capacity for digital learning and meeting the new imperative of preparing students for an uncertain future?
  • How can parents and community members support classroom use of technology and district goals for skill development?

These are important questions for both national as well as local discussions. It is our privilege to share this year’s Speak Up national findings to inform these conversations so every child, in every grade, in every community has the same opportunity to dream big and realize their potential on whatever path they choose to success.

Key Findings from this year’s report include:

  • More than 40 percent of high school principals are now offering online classes for students in math, science, history and English/language arts. Only 17 percent of high schools are not offering online classes, according to school principals.
  • Principals are offering online learning for multiple reasons, including providing academic remediation (66 percent), keeping students engaged in staying in school (63 percent) and providing options for students that need credit recovery (61 percent).
  • Teachers who teach online classes, in particular, see a strong correlation between the use of technology and students’ college and career ready skill development. More than half of these teachers say technology use helps students understand how to apply academic concepts to real world problems (58 percent), take ownership of their learning (57 percent) and develop problem solving and critical thinking skills (57 percent).
  • The professional development requests of teachers are fairly common among new and veteran teachers. Even new teachers, who are presumed to be more digitally native and comfortable with technology, have a wish list of professional development support. The rookie teachers have a greater interest than other teachers in learning more about incorporating games and using social media with both students and parents.
  • Parental support of mobile device as part of learning does not appear to have an economic, community type or grade level bias. Around 60 percent of all parents said they would like their children to be in a class where using one’s own mobile device was allowed. Two-thirds said they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use within class, if that was allowed by the school.
  • Two-thirds of community members and a similar number of parents of school-aged children expressed support for paying $.50 more per month on their phone bill if those funds were used to increase school access to the Internet for student learning.
  • One-third of elementary school teachers (32 percent) report using games in their classrooms. The top two reasons given for using games within instruction were increasing student engagement in learning (79 percent) and providing a way for teachers to address different learning styles in the classroom (72 percent).

To download a copy of the first report on K-12 Student data, "The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations” please click here.