Are All Students as Tech Savvy as We Make Them Out to Be?

After reading “The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations” from Project Tomorrow, I am intrigued on how many teachers try to use the fact that students are way more tech savvy than their teachers as a way to say why there is a disconnect of technology between teachers and students. I think that with every generation, you are going to get those people who technology comes easy for and those that technology doesn’t, and you have to work hard (just like any other subject) to understand what the heck you’re doing on each of these devices. One thing that did surprise me was that only 22% of students in middle and high school reported watching teacher created videos. Since “flipping the classroom” has become the next big thing, I am surprised that the number is so low and more teachers haven’t tried flipping the classroom.

One thing that this article reported on was the “high school student-initiated use of technology to support schoolwork.” There were 51% of students classified as “Advanced tech users” that said they found videos to help with their homework. This statistic needs to be clarified more, in that are these students actively learning while finding videos to help with homework, or are they finding the answer or formula they can use so they can just copy it down and be done with the homework with minimal effort? Students have increased availability of technology in the classroom because so many students have mobile devices that are internet enabled. This allows students to access the internet and information at anytime of the day they want to.  This can definitely be helpful in the classroom when working on projects, the list of available resources is literally never ending  but this can also be a hindrance during the day when students zone out and would rather check their Facebook newsfeed or text their friends than pay attention to your lesson. Also, this technology can be used for good when learning and developing writing and communication skills. A great way for students to practice communication and writing skills is to have online assignments where they have to converse with other students in a professional way in “non-im” speak. Also, writing essays and school reports can help students to differentiate between when it is appropriate to use slang and when you have to use “professional” words in your school reports and essays.

Students are also using digital tools and resources to enable out of school time learning activities. Social media, digital games (or even combining the two) can help students to become more technologically savvy and also smarter. With Facebook, students are connected to each other and can use this for projects, and group work and also to share news stories or interesting links/articles/videos found online that they otherwise would not share with their peers. Digital games are fun, but at the same time can enhance problem solving skills, vocabulary skills and even helping to make new friends and social interactions with others that have the same interests and play the same games.  Many students even see the benefits that digital games can have, if employed in a school environment. Some students even find these games themselves to improve their learning and learn something new in a fun and interesting way.

This article even brought up the “digital footprint” that every middle/high school student is inevitably creating, whether they know it or not. It surprised me how cogniscent most of the students are about posting things about themselves online. When looking at Facebook, some of the friends I have, I sometimes question what they are thinking with the amount of personal “updates” they post. Things that I would never dream of sharing with 600 of my “closest Facebook friends” and he/she posts multiple updates on it a day. I think students are going to become more aware of what they are posting, as more and more of their peers get into trouble or lose a job over what they posted on Facebook.

One thing I found interesting was that over half of students want to be able to use their own mobile device in school to aid their learning. I find this interesting because I wonder how many of them are thinking of all the texts/tweets/updates they could post if they were able to use their phone in school or if they genuinely want to use it for education purposes. I guess the only way to find out is to try and see it in action in the schools. I was surprised to see that only about half of all school principals/teachers/students thought it would be beneficial to have any sort of digital device in the classroom for every student.

Overall, I think that I will take this article and use it in my own classroom. I will remember to try and integrate technology into the lesson and even give the students the opportunity to use their own devices in the classroom, but sparingly at first so I know that they are using the technology for educational purposes and not using the time to sneak a text to their neighbor or update their status.


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