Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

'Speak Up' Reveals Digital Disconnect

Results of the annual survey indicate a large gap between studentsand their parents and teachers on the role of technology in learning.

In BriefSTUDENTS THROUGHOUT THE NATION havevoiced their opinions about the role technologyhas in their education, and according to theresults of Speak Up 2007, they're singing a differenttune from that of their parents and teachers.

The Speak Up surveys are an initiative of Project Tomorrow, an educational nonprofit organization. Surveys are provided in English and Spanish for K-12 students, teachers, and parents, and this year, for the first time since the project was started in 2003, surveys were also given to principals, technology coordinators, district administrators, and school board members.

In line with past Speak Up surveys, the 2007 edition focused on teaching and learning with technology, 21st-century skills, and science instruction, and also touched on the influence of emerging education technology such as gaming, online learning, and mobile devices.

The survey findings point to what Project Tomorrow (formerly NetDay) calls "a growing digital disconnect" between students and adults, most evident in their conflicting thoughts on the quality of the education that kids are getting. Sixty-six percent of school administrators, 47 percent of teachers, and 43 percent of parents surveyed agreed that "local schools are doing a good job preparing students for jobs and careers of the future," but 45 percent of middle and high school students said that tools meant to protect them, such as firewalls and filters, are inhibiting their learning.

Even greater discord is found in attitudes toward online gaming. More than 50 percent of students in grades 3 to 12 said they'd like to see more educational gaming in school, while only 16 percent of teachers, 15 percent of administrators, and 19 percent of parents said they'd support that.

The survey results were released April 8 at a congressional briefing, during which Project Tomorrow representatives encouraged more than 90 national educational policy makers to pay more attention to the wishes of students. "Students continue to be on the leading edge in terms of adopting, modifying, and reusing digital content and technology tools to enrich both their personal and educational lives," Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans said in a statement. "The students in many ways are far ahead of their teachers and parents not only in the sophistication of their technology use, but in the adoption of emerging technologies for learning purposes. It is in our nation's best interest that we support and facilitate student usage of technology for learning."

Additional Speak Up 2007 data and special reports will be released throughout the year; check the Project Tomorrow website for updates and other information.


ONE OF THE country's leadingnational science competitions forstudents in grades 5 through 8 isnow accepting entries for its 10thyear of competition.

A joint venture of Discovery Education and 3M, the Young Scientist Challenge is an effort to reach out to middle school students during the years when research indicates their interest in science begins to fade.

Eligible students can submit one- to two-minute videos about one of five scientific concepts that fall under the challenge's 2008 "The Science of Space" theme. New to this year's event is the teacher competition, which calls on members of the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) to create videos of their own.

Videos will be evaluated on creativity, persuasiveness, classroom suitability, and content standards. Judges will select 10 students and five teachers for an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, for the event's final round in the fall, which will consist of a series of individual and team challenges based on communication and scientific problem-solving skills.

The winner of the student competition will be awarded a $50,000 savings bond. The winning teacher will be named DEN's Science Teacher of the Year.

All entries are due June 15. Visit here.

:: Industry News

ATOMIC LEARNING PARTNERS WITHCREATIVE LEARNING SYSTEMS.Atomic Learning, a provider of web-based softwaretraining and support, and CreativeLearning Systems, a provider of 21st-centurylearning labs for schools, haveannounced a partnership. CreativeLearning Systems will soon offer customersaccess to Atomic Learning'slibrary of software training tutorials asan integrated resource in its SmartLablearning system, helping students andteachers get the most out of their use ofthe 21st-century learning labs.

VERNIER OFFERS SUMMER WORKSHOP. Educators nationwide have an opportunity to earn continuing education credits during the 2008 Vernier Summer Workshops. Running from June 11 through Aug. 11, the workshops will focus on using handheld data collection technology for science at elementary through advanced-placement levels. Each workshop will last about six hours and includes lab handouts and lunch. Visit here for prices, class descriptions, and availability in your area.

:: People

PROMETHEAN HIRES NEW CMO. Promethean has named Iwan Streichenberger,former president of Edusoft, as its new chief marketingofficer. Streichenberger will beresponsible for expanding Promethean'sinteractive classroom portfolio anddriving its worldwide product and marketingstrategy.

SETDA HONORS CONGRESSWOMAN. Each year, the State Educational Technology Directors Association recognizes a federal leader who takes action to support education technology. This year, the organization honored Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) with its Federal Policy Maker Award during a recent ceremony in Los Angeles. Among Roybal-Allard's efforts is her co-sponsorship of the ATTAIN (Achievement Through Technology and Innovation) Act, a bill that aims to build upon past federal technology programs and expand them to provide systemic educational change.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.