I just read a recent and very interesting report on technology use for students, “The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations” from Speak Up 2013 National Findings. People often talk about how children growing up now are “digital natives”, however this report stated that there are a lot of differences between these children in terms of their use and aspiration for technology. I thought this was a very good point because every child is different in what they know how to do with technology and if they are even interested in it to begin with. Some of these students don’t even have access to internet or any technology. This report looked at surveys that answered the following questions: How are K-12 students currently using digital tools and resources to support schoolwork activities?, How are K-12 students currently using digital tools and resources to enable out of school learning activities?, and lastly What are K-12 students’ aspirations for using digital tools and resources within new innovative learning environments?
The surveys showed a lot of interesting information regarding technology use among all aged students. They found that these students are manipulating and modifying the standard use to meet their individual learning needs. Some things they use are online textbooks or online tests. As a teacher I feel like these aspects would be very useful and convenient for students and teachers as well. If you give students more options, such as the opportunity of technological devices and resources, they are more apt to learn in the way that is best for them.
One thing that still blows my mind is that these students are getting into social media and social networking at such a young age. A lot of younger children are starting to have their own mobile devices, either smartphones, tablets, or laptops. The report stated that girls are more into social media, probably because of the social aspect. The report explained that these social networking sites are enabling students’ learning outside of the classroom. By having access to technology, students can text their classmates for help, find videos online to help them, skype or ichat with classmates, or even use facebook to collaborate on projects. I never really looked at social networking as a means to education but the more I learn about it, the more I realize we should use these tools to help our students succeed in a way that they can engage in. One thing i’m not quite sure I agree with is that these digital/multiplayer games students play have learning benefits if they’re used in schools. I guess I will need to be exposed to more of these games to see their actual use and benefits, especially in the classroom.
Overall, even though each child is different in their experience and skills with technology, we should incorporate the beneficial aspects into the classroom to pursue interests and success. By allowing our students to use technology in the classroom, teachers can monitor what they’re getting into and help teach them the safety aspects of the internet that they may not be learning at home. Schools should provide school-wide internet access and the ability to use mobile devices so that these students can use those tools for their individual learning. The report stated that these are the top aspirations for the “ultimate school”. Teachers should expand their technological knowledge to help students learn socially with these new digital tools. The opportunities are almost endless, and schools should be the place to take advantage of that.