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Are Our K-12 Students Ready For Virtual or Online Learning at Home?

Are our K-12 students ready for virtual or online learning at home?  

Student readiness for at home virtual or online learning based upon:  

  1. Experiences using technology in school for learning
  2. Positive feelings about virtual or online learning
  3. Access to technology outside of school
  4. Student experiences using technology in school for learning
    • Majority of students in grades 6-12 report spending:
      • 1-2 hours total per school day using technology for learning
      • Plus another 1-2 hours per day doing homework using technology
        • 1/3 of grade 6-12 students use a school provided laptop, Chromebook or tablet at school – and take it home for extended learning
        • 12% of grade 3-5 students are doing the same!
    • Most popular uses of technology in school:
      • Google apps for education – 83% of students in grades 6-12 say they use these tools weekly 
        • Taking online tests – 61% weekly
        • Using an online curriculum – 43% weekly
        • Reading an online textbook – 39% weekly
      Urban schools Suburban schools Rural schools
    Students in grades 6-8 81% 87% 82%
    Students in grades 9-12  81% 81% 83%
    • Majority of students say they have had instruction in school about:  
      • How to use technology appropriately for learning and how to self-protect themselves and their data when they are online
    • I know how to be safe when I am online
      • 71% of Gr 3-5 students
      • 72% of Gr 6-8 students
      • 68% of Gr 9-12 students
  5. Students’ positive feelings about virtual or online learning
    • 53% of students in grades 6-12 say they would like to take a fully online or virtual course as part of their education
    • 3 in 10 students have already taken a self-paced online course outside of school on their own
    • Students value the personalized learning outcomes from the use of technology to support learning (Grade 6-12):
      •  Learning at my own pace (54%)
      • In control of my learning (52%) 
      • Learning that fits my personal style (47%)
    • Educators’ personal experiences with online learning
      • Only 1/5 of teachers and principals have taken an online course for professional learning
    • School administrators are hesitant to provide online learning as an option for all students due to concerns about: 
      • Quality of student-teacher interactions
      • Teachers’ skills teaching in an online environment
      • Students’ appropriate access to devices and the Internet outside of school
  6. Students’ access to technology outside of school 
    • Evidence of the “homework gap”:
      • 1 in 8 students in grades 6-12 say they cannot do digital homework due to a lack of access to technology outside of school
      • Is this optimum? Students are using smartphones to write papers and do math homework
    • Where are “homework gap” students getting online to do homework:
      • 36% in coffee shops or fast food restaurants
      • 34% on public transportation
      • 31% in public libraries

SOURCE: Speak Up Research Findings from 464,629 K-12 students, parents, educators and community members who shared their ideas on digital learning with Project Tomorrow during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. The Speak Up Research Project is facilitated annually by Project Tomorrow to inform local, state and national policies and programs on education. Learn more at www.tomorrow.org.

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