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Students Say They Are More Motivated in Digital Learning Environments than Traditional Ones

Survey Also Reveals Boys More Likely to Take Online Classes

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Students in digital learning environments are more interested in what they are learning in school, more motivated to do well, and feel a stronger connection to their school than students in traditional, face-to-face classes, according to a report released today from Blackboard and Project Tomorrow®. The study also found that boys are more likely than girls to take online classes.

The report found that nearly 50 percent of virtual high school students say they were interested in what they were learning in school, while only 32 percent of traditional high school students said the same. A similar disconnect exists in terms of motivation to do well with more than one-third of virtual school students saying they are motivated because they like school. Only a quarter of traditional school students say the same.  

Similarly, while only 24 percent of traditional high school students say their school cares about them as a person, nearly 40 percent of students who have had some type of school-based digital learning experience believe that their school cares about them.

The study also found that the most defining characteristic within the digital learning profile is gender with a larger percentage of boys being represented across all categories. Among high school and grade school students, 59 percent of those who have taken an online course, either self-study or teacher-led, are boys and 60 percent are enrolled in a virtual school. For girls, 52 percent have taken a self-study online class, 50 percent have taken a teacher-led one and only 47 percent are enrolled in a virtual school. 

"A common myth about virtual schools and online learning is that students have limited social interactions and are unable to truly connect with their teachers, peers and course content," said Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow. "This year's report counters this stereotype and shows that online learning helps develop a strong value proposition around school and learning. Students articulated the benefits of digital learning in terms of how it changes the education process and affects their self-efficacy as learners."

"Our education system is very traditional, supporting traditional learners with traditional learning models," said Jay Bhatt, CEO of Blackboard. "We need to completely reimagine the educational experience in an effort to better support learners' needs and expectations. This report shows that taking a more digital construct in our approach to K-12 education can create a more meaningful learning experience. I am proud to say that is exactly what we are trying to do at Blackboard."

"When students are using digital resources, building multi-media projects, collaborating and connecting online, and conducting online research, they are more interested in schoolwork today and feel more connected to what their future holds tomorrow," said Dr. Mark Edwards, superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina, which uses Blackboard solutions to power the district's blended learning program.

The findings, which focused on understanding the student perspective on the impact and benefits of innovative and alternative classroom models, are included in Trends in Digital Learning: Students' Views on Innovative Classroom Models, which was released at the 2014 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The report is based on data from the 2013 Speak Up annual survey that captures the views of more than 400,000 K-12 students, parents, educators, administrators and other community members across the U.S. each year about digital learning.

For more information about Blackboard, please visit or follow @Blackboard on Twitter.

About Project Tomorrow
Project Tomorrow® is the nation's leading education nonprofit organization dedicated to the empowerment of student voices in education. With 17 years of experience in the K-12 education sector, Project Tomorrow regularly provides consulting and research support about key trends in K-12 science, math and technology education to school districts, government agencies, business and higher education.

The Speak Up National Research Project annually polls K-12 students, parents and educators about the role of technology for learning in and out of school and represents the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder voice on digital learning. Since 2003, over 3.4 million K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians, principals, technology leaders and district administrators have shared their views and ideas through Speak Up. Learn more at

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard is the world's leading education technology company. We challenge conventional thinking and advance new models of learning in order to reimagine education and make it more accessible, engaging and relevant to the modern-day learner and the institutions that serve them. In partnership with our customers and partners in higher education and K-12 as well as corporations and government agencies around the world, our mission is to help every learner achieve their full potential by inspiring a passion for lifelong learning. For more information about Blackboard, follow us on Twitter @Blackboard.

Source: Blackboard Inc.