digital speak up

Survey: Teachers now use twice as much gaming and video in the classroom

Annual survey reveals digital resources such as game-based environments and online videos have experienced increased use in classrooms

Teachers’ use of game-based environments and online apps has doubled in the last six years, according to the annual Speak Up survey released on May 5.

The national report, From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education, reveals that in 2010, only 23 percent of surveyed teachers said they used games, compared to 48 percent of those surveyed in 2015. In 2010, 47 percent of teachers said they used online videos, and that jumped to 68 percent of teachers in 2015.

“Many more schools are demonstrating greater use of digital content, tools and resources today than six years ago and we believe that the increasing adoption of interactive, visual media in the classroom by teachers is the driver for much of that change,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, in a press release. “The explosion in teacher interest and usage of videos and game-based learning could be a harbinger of a new awakening for digital learning.”

Almost half of surveyed school and district administrators said they are implementing game-based learning to increase student achievement and teacher effectiveness, although 38 percent of school administrators and 47 percent of district administrators said they have not done so and have no plans to do so.

Twenty-three percent of surveyed teachers in virtual classes use simulations, 26 percent of surveyed teachers who have implemented a flipped learning model use them, and 17 percent of surveyed teachers who use a blended learning model use simulations.

Teachers said they’re searching for guidance around approved and curated content for instruction, with 25 percent of those surveyed saying they are looking for resources organized by grade level and content area to support their digital content integration, 57 percent said they are looking for planning time to work with colleagues, 36 percent are seeking in-school coaching to help them find and use high-quality digital resources, and 28 percent are looking for online tools that help organize and keep track of digital resources.

Surveyed school principals (84 percent) said they believe effectively using technology as part of instruction is a key part of student success, but said there are barriers to meeting those expectations.

The top-cited barrier was lack of teacher training on how to properly integrate digital content within instruction, which 57 percent of surveyed principals identified as their biggest obstacle.

Five out of 10 administrators in the survey said implementing digital content resources such as videos, simulations, and animations was already producing positive student outcomes.

Nearly 60 percent of participating technology leaders said one-quarter of instructional materials in their schools are digital and not paper, and 26 percent said their paper-less resources hover at 50 percent.

“This increased emphasis on digital learning in school is also shining a brighter light on the need to address the quality of students’ out-of-school connectivity, otherwise know as ‘the homework gap,’” said Evans. “Thirty-five percent of students in this year’s survey said they go to school early or stay late to access the school’s internet, 24 percent go to public libraries and 19 percent said they go to fast food restaurants and cafes for internet access. Nearly 70 percent of teachers told us they are reluctant to assign homework that requires Internet access because they are worried about this ‘gap.’”

This year’s survey focused on three questions around the “pixel-based” phenomenon:

  • What precipitates the move within schools from print to pixel to lay the foundation for then understanding how teachers and students are using these digital tools in their classrooms?
  • How are students self-directing learning beyond the classroom?
  • What should we expect in further adoptions of visually engaging digital tools in education?

More than 500,000 students, educators and parents responded to the surveys last fall.

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Laura Ascione

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