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2017 Digital Learning Report
from Blackboard and Speak Up

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Trends in Digital Learning: Building teachers’ capacity and competency to create new learning experiences for students

In June 2017, Blackboard released this new report featuring data from Speak Up 2016 on the readiness of teachers to use digital tools to transform teaching and learning.

Report imageSince 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 this report, we examine the trends from our analysis of the Speak Up data collected in fall 2016. These new findings provide a unique lens for examining the current state of teacher capacity for transforming education using digital tools, and identifying promising new practices that can serve as guideposts for this journey. Using various Speak Up data points, we examine not only where teachers are on this journey today, but also what they say they need to be more effective with instructional technology, especially as it relates to preparing today’s students for tomorrow. To provide additional context to this discussion, this year’s report includes thought provoking insights from administrators who are on the front lines with these challenges today.          

Key findings from this year’s digital learning trends report include:

  • Two-thirds of parents in all types of communities (urban, rural and suburban) say that the effective use of technology within the classroom provides a significant way for their child to develop college and career ready skills.   
  • Technology leaders (67%) say that the greatest challenge they face in implementing digital learning or expanding technology use is motivating teachers to change their traditional instructional practices to use technology more meaningfully with students. 
  • Teachers in blended learning classrooms are setting a new bar for transforming learning using technology. For example, 68% report that with the use of technology in their classroom they are better able to differentiate instruction for their students.
  • Teachers who have experienced online and blended classes for their own professional learning demonstrate advanced uses of technology with their own students, have stronger valuations on the role of technology within learning, and higher aspirations for leveraging technology to support transformed learning environments. 
  • Teachers identified five essential elements that they need to effectively and efficiently integrate digital content, tools and resources into daily instruction in their classroom:  planning time, access to technology in the classroom, technology support, professional development and consistent, high quality Internet connectivity.