Julie Evans
Gaming and video making headway in classrooms

Teachers are using game-based environments and video in their classrooms like never before, an indication of a new awakening for digital learning.

That’s one of the many takeaways from the national Speak Up report From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education. According to the survey, 48 percent of teachers reported using games in their classrooms in 2015, compared to 30 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, use of online video content among teachers jumped from 47 percent in 2012 to 68 percent in 2015.

The report distills results from the annual Speak Up survey, which was taken by more than 500,000 teachers, students, parents and administrators in the fall of 2015.

The results show that more schools are increasing their use of digital content, tools and resources, and teachers are driving that change.  

The Speak Up survey found more teachers are using digital content like games and videos in their lessons.

Game-based learning

The survey also asked teachers, students and parents to design their “ultimate school” by selecting a variety of tools and strategies. Nearly half (48 percent) of teachers included online or digital education games in their ultimate school, an increase from 34 percent in 2010.

Meanwhile, half of high school students and 60 percent of middle and elementary school students selected online or digital education games for their ultimate school in 2015. The percentage of parents including games in their ultimate school doubled between 2010 and 2015, from just 19 percent to more than 40 percent.

When school and district administrators were asked in 2015 if they are implementing game-based learning to enhance student achievement and teacher effectiveness, nearly half said they have, but 38 percent of school administrators and 47 percent of district administrators said they have not and have no plans to do so.

Professional learning for digital content usage

More teachers are looking for professional development opportunities from their schools and districts to support their use of digital content in the classroom. In 2015, half of teachers said they were looking for professional development to better use games within instruction. Among district administrators, however, just 27 percent said they were providing their teachers with instruction on game-based learning this year.  

Video content for learning

The survey also asked students about their use of online videos for learning. The report found that more than 70 percent of high school students report using YouTube all of the time or often (YouTube is the most-used social network for students). When asked why watching online videos is a good way for them to learn, 61 percent of students in grades 6-12 ranked “I can watch it as many times as I need to” as the top benefit.

The Speak Up survey results show students like using video content so they can watch as many times as they want.

Homework gap persists

This increased emphasis on digital learning in schools is also shining a brighter light on the need to address access to out-of-school connectivity, known as “the homework gap.”

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.”

Get your schools’ free data

The 2016 Speak Up survey opens in October. All school and district data is provided free to registered schools and districts. Don’t miss out on getting your school’s data next year! Learn more and register now.

Julie Evans is a former ISTE Board member and CEO of Project Tomorrow, creator of the annual Speak Up survey.