I just read an article in eSchoolNews about the first part of the Speak Up report published by Project Tomorrow. It was also shared in a congressional briefing on April 1 called “The New 3 E’s of Education: Enabled, Engaged and Empowered – How Today’s Students are Leveraging Emerging Technologies for Learning.”
The findings of the Speak Up report is very interesting to me but not entirely surprising. It seems that parents and students different in their perceptions and opinions regarding the use of mobile technology in K-12 school when compared to school administrators and teachers. Here are some of the key findings:
- 67 percent of parents said they would purchase a mobile device for their child to use for schoolwork if the school allowed it, and 61 percent said they liked the idea of students using mobile devices to access online textbooks.
- 53 percent of middle and high school students reported that the inability to use cell phones, smart phones or MP3 players was the largest obstacle when using technology in school. Additionally, 71 percent of high school students and 62 percent of middle school students said that the number one way schools could make it easier to use technology would be to allow greater access to the digital content and resources that Internet firewalls and school filters blocked.
- Parents are increasingly supportive of online textbooks. Two-thirds of parents view online textbooks as a good investment to enhance student achievement compared to 21 percent in 2008. However, E-textbooks are still a relatively novel concept in the classroom. Slightly over one-third of high school students report they are currently using an online textbook or other online curriculum as part of their regular schoolwork.
- Nearly 30 percent of high school students have experienced some type of online learning.
For example, as a student I want access to information and desire the option to use the available technologies whether they are provided for me or owned by me (and tend to resent what seems like outdated restrictions). As a parent, I want my teenage students to be among those who use and understand technology naturally and know how to separate work and play (and tend to resent a system that denies my kids the opportunity to act responsibly with technology at school since it is required of them at home). As an technology educator, I want our students to utilize the latest technologies so they can develop 21st Century skills, but also see the challenges of keeping them focused even in highly monitored computer labs; therefore, I am forced to admit that many of them will misuse their mobile technologies if allowed in the classroom (so, in a total cognitive dissonance, I support existing technology policies for good reasons yet struggle with the observation that we ask our students to lock their mobile technologies in their lockers, which offer untapped leaning potential, so they can walk to computer labs and use older technology, which is strapped with too many restrictions). Hmmm...
As educators, we will eventually have to deal with the mounting pressure to allow a greater use of mobile technology on our campuses. It will be another game changer for education and brings up more questions than I will care to list here. Besides, we are not ready for the mass-use of smart phones in the classroom any time soon. We will have to make changes to our policies, curriculum, learning environments, teaching styles, technology-related infrastructures, etc. Unfortunately, these are significant changes that non-educators are not completely aware of when they occasionally ask me, "What's the big deal?" or lately "If students are allowed to use their smart phones during school, wouldn't that save the district money since less computers would be required?" Real questions that deserve real answers. However, I am also confident we will eventually implement smart solutions that include emerging technologies like the recent wave of very smart phones...as soon as we figure out how to use them smartly. ; )