Last week I attended and enjoyed the Congressional Briefing of the 2015 Speak Up Survey results by Project Tomorrow, and had the pleasure of sharing in opening remarks with Lee Blakemore. Blackboard has partnered with Project Tomorrow in surveying students, parents, teachers and administrators since 2006, and every year I am enthralled with the results. This partnership is one of the critical pieces of insights we utilize to better support schools, districts and their communities across the country.

Stephanie Weeks speaking at the Speak Up Congressional Briefing

Stephanie Weeks, VP of K-12 Strategy, speaking at the Speak Up Congressional Briefing on May 5, 2016.

During the briefing the CEO of Project Tomorrow, Julie Evans, brought some of the latest Speak Up data to life through stories from her panelists: 4 teachers and 5 students across elementary, middle and high schools.

Here are a few of the key findings that I enjoyed:

  • Students use digital assets to learn outside of the classroom, sometimes this is guided by teachers’ lessons and other times it is self-directed. 78% of middle school students are using online videos for self-directed learning! Many report that they make use of the ability to re-watch something they do not understand.
  • Teachers are seeing improvement in their classrooms while using digital media for instruction especially when they focus on how to effectively utilize the media; it’s all about the teaching, not just the technology.
  • Teachers brought attention to the critical importance of professional development and teacher collaboration to advancing and exploring new ways of using technology in their instruction.
  • Parents find the digital materials useful as well as the students; teachers see engagement coming from parents through these assets. And more good news: 64% of parents say they would support an annual technology fee to support classroom digital learning expenses.
  • One teacher commented that when she sees a gap in technology experiences at the beginning of a school year, her students advance quickly by learning on their own and by pairing up with peers.
Panel of students at the Speak Up Congressional Briefing

Panel of students at the Speak Up Congressional Briefing on May 5, 2016.

What I loved about the survey findings and the stories behind them is that:

  1. Students continue to demonstrate just how powerful it can be to let them take agency.
  2. Teachers continue to demonstrate how powerful their classrooms can become when we give them the support they need.
  3. Parents demonstrate their desire to get involved when we give them the ability to do so.

All of this means a continued focus on change in classrooms, schools, districts and communities across the country.

The Blackboard K-12 New Learning Experience supports this deeply necessary connection between students, parents and teachers by supporting a safe and secure environment, engaging the full community, and advancing personalized learning. Download the report and helpful flyers to learn more about the 2015 SpeakUp survey results, and let us know how we can help support your vision to drive change and improve student outcomes in your schools.

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