Research reveals educators back digital tools, but aren’t always fully-equipped to implement innovative practices

innovative-classroomNine out of 10 administrators surveyed in a new report said using technology effectively as part of instructional practice is important to educate and prepare students, but a few key challenges are delaying plans for more innovative classroom models.

  1. Seventy-eight percent of surveyed parents said using technology as a regular part of daily classes is the best way for their child to develop the skills they’ll need to succeed in college and the workforce, according to Trends in Digital Learning: Empowering Innovative Classroom Models for Learning, released by Project Tomorrow and Blackboard.

The report, the latest in a series of annual collaborations between the two groups, comes from an analysis of Speak Up survey data collected in the fall of 2014.

Next page: The big challenges for new classroom models

One of its goals, aside from highlighting how innovative classroom practices empower teachers and engage students, is to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with these emerging innovative classroom models.

The achievement gap. Forty-eight percent of surveyed district leaders said closing the achievement gap is a serious challenge. In 2011, just one-third of surveyed administrators said the same. What’s more, 56 percent of surveyed parents of school-aged children said their top worry for their child’s future is that at school, their child might not be learning the skills they’ll need for future success.

Changing Instruction habits. In addition to closing the achievement gap, education leaders said they realize that the instructional practices paired with digital tools are key to reaching technology’s benefits. This, the report’s authors note, means teachers play a central role in innovative classrooms, because their views on digital resources are critical for administrators and students.

Surveyed school principals said they evaluate digital learning’s impact by assessing student engagement in learning when using digital tools (71 percent), observing classroom interactions and lessons to determine authentic teacher buy-in with digital learning (58 percent), and determining the extent to which students are developing college and career ready skills (45 percent).

Variable results. Forty-five percent of surveyed district administrators said their blended learning implementation is achieving positive results, and three-quarters of surveyed principals said increased student engagement is due to the effective use of digital content in their blended learning classrooms.

The survey data did reveal, however, that surveyed teachers who have implemented blended learning are more likely than teachers in traditional classrooms to use online textbooks, games, and other digital content during instruction.

Leadership concerns. Though the survey reveals that school leaders and classroom teachers are incorporating digital tools and resources more than in previous years, 47 percent of surveyed school principals report that concerns over how to evaluate digital content quality delay their plans.

Teacher training difficulties. One-third of surveyed school principals saying a lack of teacher training around how to integrate digital content into instructional practices holds back plans for more innovative classroom implementations.

To read the report and learn more details about survey responses, click here.