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Project Tomorrow Data Released at NECC

Project Tomorrow released its latest analysis of survey data at a breakfast meeting at National Education Computing Conference this morning. The project's CEO, Julie Evans, said the findings of its Speak Up survey related to online learning identified two major obstacles administrators see for expanding virtual schooling options: funding and teacher preparation.

The funding issue is obvious, given the current state of school budgets and the economy overall.

But while teacher preparation, in general, may not be perceived as being up-to-date with regard to advances in educational technology, many teachers access virtual classes and programs for their own professional purposes. But they are reluctant to teach them, according to the survey. A third of teacher respondents, for example, had taken online professional development, and a fifth regularly collaborate with colleagues through virtual means. Yet only 3 percent have taught online classes, and just 16 percent have any interest in doing so.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of high school students and 35 percent of middle school students who responded to the survey indicated they were interested in accessing online learning opportunities.

The survey project, supported by Blackboard, Inc., shows a disconnect, Evans said, between the demand and the reality.

"Students are increasingly becoming free-agent learners, untethered to the classroom," she said. "Are we prepared for that? And how are we going to support them in their educational pursuits?"

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