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2020 – 90 Days That Changed K-12 Teaching & Learning

Project Tomorrow & Blackboard

"The 90 days of change led to teachers rising to meet the challenge presented by the pandemic. We saw teachers coupling creativity with technology to foster student learning during this time. However, the experience of Spring 2020 cannot be merely an experiment. It must be the beginning of an evolution of learning where we can redefine what engagement looks like starting this fall.”

Lesley Bruinton, APR, Public Relations Coordinator
Tuscaloosa City Schools, Alabama

Each year since 2003, Project Tomorrow, a global education nonprofit organization, facilitates the annual Speak Up Research Project on Digital Learning. A key aspect of the research project is to track the growth in student, educator, and parent interest in digital learning, as well as how our nation’s schools and districts are addressing that interest by supporting innovative learning experiences in and out of the classroom. Since 2007, Project Tomorrow has collaborated with Blackboard to create a series of annual reports that focus on the year-to-year trends in the use of digital learning tools to change the classroom-learning paradigm through an in-depth analysis of the latest Speak Up data findings.

In response to the sudden shift to digital learning during school closures this spring, the focus of this year’s reports will be an examination of the changes that impacted teaching and learning during this time, and what we can learn from those events to inform the future of education. Structured as a series of four executive level briefs, we are calling the series 90 Days That Changed K-12 Teaching and Learning.

Each executive brief in the series leverages new data findings from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Research Project with a goal to not only inform but also to stimulate new local reflections and discussions on the experiences of our stakeholders with remote e-learning and how to most effectively prepare for the uncertainty of the next school year and beyond. Consequently, each brief includes a short list of thought-provoking questions that school and district leaders can use to jumpstart these new conversations within their communities.

School and district leaders traditionally use the summer recess period to evaluate the success of the prior school year and reflect on changes that they may want to make to increase the effectiveness of their staff and/or programs in the upcoming school year. The 2020 summer recess period will include an additional consideration: what have we learned from this unplanned remote e-learning journey that can potentially be the stimulus for transforming teaching and learning in our schools? How have these past 90 days changed the future of education? It is our hope that the data-informed insights shared through these briefs will inform local discussions on these issues, and potentially stimulate new questions and solutions.



90 Days That Changed K-12 Teaching and Learning: The Shift to Digital Learning

The cavalcade of school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the sudden and unplanned shift in the delivery mechanism for instruction, from primarily face-to-face, in-classroom instruction to digital learning facilitated over the Internet from home. Almost overnight, technology tools became the principal instrument for enabling the continuity of learning for students across the country. It also goes without saying that the roughly 90 days of school closures most likely forever changed our expectations for teaching and learning in K-12 education, and most certainly has shone a new spotlight on the role of digital tools, content and resources within the learning experience.

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90 Days That Changed K-12 Teaching and Learning: Spotlight on Equity in Learning The sudden and unplanned move to remote e-learning resulted in a spotlight on the challenges to ensure that every student has appropriate, safe and consistent access to digital tools and resources to support learning outside of school. But creating equity in learning environments is about more than provisioning a Chromebook and a Wifi hotspot to a family. Equity in access to quality teaching and learning matters too.

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90 Days That Changed K-12 Teaching and Learning: Strengthening the Bonds of Communications While schools have long championed the importance of school-to-home communications and encouraged family engagement with local schools, the remote e-learning environment has promoted effective communications from important to absolutely imperative. But what does effective communications mean in this new era, especially relative to the dialogue between teacher and student?

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90 Days That Changed K-12 Teaching and Learning: Sponsoring Student Ownership of Learning School closures and remote e-learning has presented an unprecedented opportunity for education leaders to think constructively about the purpose of school and the role of the student in the learning process. These critical discussions have the potential to lead to new discoveries around student engagement, how to create contextually relevant learning experiences, and empowering greater student ownership of the learning process.

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Project Tomorrow’s nonprofit mission is to support the effective implementation of research-based learning experiences for students in K-12 schools. Project Tomorrow is particularly interested in the role of digital tools, content and resources in supporting students’ development of college and career ready skills. The organization’s landmark research is the Speak Up Research Project which annually polls K-12 students, parents, educators and community members about the impact of technology resources on learning experiences both in school and out of school, and represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder voice on digital learning. Since 2003, almost 6 million K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians, principals, technology leaders, district administrators and members of the community have shared their views and ideas through the Speak Up Project. Learn more at www.tomorrow.org.

Blackboard’s unique approach to K-12 education focuses on creating a seamless and engaging experience for each learner. Our platform provides a way for students to learn in a safe, connected, and technologically savvy environment by focusing in advancing personalized learning and engaging and informing the entire community.
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