A Brighter Future Through Innovation


Last week, I had the privilege to attend Project Tomorrow’s Congressional Briefing of their 2016 Speak Up Survey results and provide opening remarks with our Chief Client Officer Tim Atkin on behalf of Blackboard.  I enjoyed the insightful analysis by Project Tomorrow CEO, Julie Evans, and the valuable perspectives of the panel of students and K-12 education leaders.

Blackboard has partnered with Project Tomorrow on the Speak Up project for the past ten years. The Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning is a national research project in which K-12 students, parents, and educators are asked about the role of technology in learning, both in and out of school. Last year, over half a million students, parents, educators and members of the community representing over 6,300 schools nationwide participated in Speak Up. Each year over the past decade, Blackboard has collaborated to create annual reports focused on the year-to-year trends in the use of digital learning tools both inside and outside the K-12 classroom. These trend reports are based on an in-depth analysis of the latest Speak Up data findings. Our latest collaborative report with Project Tomorrow examines the trends from our analysis of the Speak Up data collected in fall 2016. Friday’s briefing, as Tim Atkin so eloquently noted, “was a celebration of a powerful series of annual reports. And, it’s a call to action to use the findings of this year’s report to continue to elevate our game and make a difference for our students.”

Watch the Project Tomorrow Congressional Briefing from Friday, September 8, 2017.

Here are some of the key findings explored at the briefing:

  • 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.
  • Teachers are using more digital content than ever before. Two-thirds of teachers report using online videos within instruction; a 39% increase over three years.  At least a third of teachers use online curriculum with students.
  • 67% of technology leaders 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. 68% of teachers 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.
L to R: Tim Atkin, Chief Client Officer at Blackboard; Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow; Katie Gallagher; Director of Product Marketing at Blackboard.
L to R: Tim Atkin, Chief Client Officer at Blackboard; Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow; Katie Gallagher, Director of Product Marketing at Blackboard.

My favorite moment of the briefing was when 9th grade student Camden Austin spoke up to say, “Right now, there is an astronomical call for unity worldwide. Things like that where we are trying to outreach to students all over the world, parents, teacher, leaders, and technology, all those things are going to dismantle the barriers that are obstructing us from reaching that unity that we so want. So I encourage everybody in this room, everybody who’s watching online, keep doing what you’re doing and let’s bring the whole world together.”

At Blackboard, we greatly value our partnership with Project Tomorrow.  Insights like these help us understand what today’s students, parents, teachers, and school leaders need to transform and improve K-12 teaching and learning. Project Tomorrow’s research is crucial to helping us better serve K-12 education as a partner in change each day.  We are committed to helping K-12 students, parents, teachers, and education leaders thrive during this time of transformative evolution. Our sights are set on a brighter future driven by innovating together.

Test your knowledge of this year’s digital trends or download the full report to learn more about the 2016 Speak Up survey results.