New research documents why digital and mobile tools will continue to play a role in the classroom and be instrumental in student-directed learning

The pandemic is boosting student-directed learning

New research documents why digital and mobile tools will continue to play a role in the classroom and be instrumental in student-directed learning

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been, to say the least, a struggle for students and educators, it also has revealed a move toward increased student-directed learning, according to the final installment in a series of reports from Project Tomorrow and Blackboard investigating the impact and expectations for digital learning from the point of view of K-12 students, parents, and educators.

The final report, “Sponsoring Student Ownership of Learning,” examines how the pandemic is fueling a shift toward student-directed learning and how digital and mobile tools will likely remain a key part of the classroom even after students return to in-person instruction. It focuses on the student point of view of their learning experiences and the teachers’ and administrators’ perspectives around the value of technology to support students’ increased efficacy in the learning process.

Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Research Project surveyed the perspectives of over 137,000 K-12 students, parents and educators, revealing how they see technology as a critical tool in increasing students’ ownership of their learning journey.

“As the classroom shifted to the kitchen table, parents saw firsthand the power of digital and mobile tools in driving student-led learning,” said Dr. Julie A. Evans, chief researcher and CEO of Project Tomorrow. “This research illuminates why even as we return to a more traditional in-person classroom experience, technology will continue to underpin student-led learning.”

The report reveals that when students have freedom to direct their own learning in school, that experience leads to more self-directed learning outside of school. The percentage of students using digital tools to do online research, take an online course, use online writing tools or watch videos to learn a skill outside the classroom rose across the board during the pandemic (pg.5).

The number of parents who believe the use of technology within learning results in greater student ownership of the learning process increased by 41 percent because of their child’s remote e-learning experience in spring 2020 (pg.6).

72 percent of principals and 63 percent of teachers say that mobile learning results in students taking greater responsibility for their own learning (pg.9).

The increased usage and reliance upon mobile devices in spring resulted in 55 percent of teachers now saying that they are comfortable supporting their students’ use of mobile devices as a learning tool (pg.9).

Only 18 percent of K-12 teachers say that they are very comfortable with a learning environment where students can choose their own learning path (pg.3).

The research provides valuable insight into how the experience gained during the pandemic will shape future tools and support structures that promote student-led learning.

“The path toward an educational experience highly directed by each student individually is beginning to take shape,” said Christina Fleming, Vice President for Blackboard K-12. “Project Tomorrow’s research offers valuable insight into how we can harness these shared experiences and develop environments that put learners in the driver’s seat of their educational journey.”

“Sponsoring Student Ownership of Learning” is the final report in a series of executive briefs called 90 Days that Changed K-12 Teaching and Learning. The series leveraged Speak Up Research Project findings on the front-line perspectives of over 137,000 K-12 students, teachers and parents on the role of technology and new learning models within education, including changes in their views and values around digital learning during school closures. The Speak Up Research Project is a strategic initiative of Project Tomorrow.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione

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