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Administrators share top 10 thoughts on digital learning

More and more educators, parents, and education technology advocates see the need for classroom technology and digital learning, but say that stagnant or shrinking budgets continue to impede progress in many cases.

The 2012 Speak Up report, From Chalkboards to Tablets: The Digital Conversion of the K-12 Classroom, completed by 466,000 K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians, and administrators, gathered input on education technology use, digital learning, policies, and trends from stakeholders.

In the report, 6,011 school and district administrators share 10 ideas about digital learning:

1. What’s waking you up at night?
Fifty-five percent of school principals and district administrators say they worry that they do not have adequate technology for students to use at school, and nearly 50 percent said they believe that leveraging digital textbooks, online classes, and mobile devices could improve student outcomes.

(Next page: Nine more thoughts)2. Are you a mobilist?
According to the report, the answer is yes. Administrators are more connected and technology-capable thanks to their mobile devices, including laptops (96 percent), smart phones (87 percent), and digital readers (26 percent). Forty-four percent of district administrators are using district-provided tablets.

3. Bring Your Own Device
In a dramatic increase from last year’s report, more than one-third (36 percent) of school principals said it is likely that they will let students bring their own technology devices for classroom use. In 2011’s report, just 22 percent of principals said they would enact a BYOD policy.

4. Social media in schools
Principals use Skype (51 percent) and Facebook (48 percent) most often, and 22 percent said they use Twitter. Two percent said they participate in massively multiplayer online games.

5. Professional development and tech use
Almost one-third (32 percent) of administrators use tablets for classroom observations, 69 percent watch online videos for professional growth, and 79 percent text colleagues.

6. Teacher evaluations
Seventy-four percent of school principals and 80 percent of district administrators said they believe teachers’ evaluations should include an assessment on their use of technology to enhance instruction, but only 43 percent of teachers agree.

7. Blended learning, or flipped classrooms?
Sixty-two percent of school principals said they school has already implemented some form of blended learning, and 27 percent of principals said they would like their teachers to try flipped learning this year.

8. Online assessments
Administrators said they worry that their schools do not have enough computers to support online assessments (59 percent), are hesitant about the costs to implement the tests (56 percent), and have concerns about the need to train teachers and students (54 percent).

9. Bandwidth capacity
Fifteen percent of responding school districts said they have enough bandwidth to support their instructional needs. However, 69 percent of districts said they are concerned about the impact of implementing more digital content on their current network capacity.

10. Funding, funding, funding
A large majority of district administrators (91 percent) said they would like to see a new federal funding program to support greater investments in classroom technology and digital learning, and 91 percent also said the effective use of technology within instruction is important to boosting student achievement.

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