Speak Up survey highlights gaps in support of ed tech

“The time to get serious about how to effectively leverage for learning all of this computing power in a student’s pocket or backpack is now,” Evans said. “Especially in these difficult fiscal times in schools, it just makes sense to tap into the devices that the kids already have and use them to increase productivity and learning, rather than just locking them up during the day.”

The survey also noted a major gain in parental support for online textbooks, which two-thirds of parents now view as a positive enhancement to education, up from 21 percent in 2008. Only about a quarter of middle school students and a third of high school students say they are currently using online textbooks, however, despite the growing support.

Evans said she was surprised by the prevalence of students who had participated in some form of online learning, whether through an entirely online class, a blended learning environment, or a self-study class.

“Five times more parents this year would choose online classes for their child’s ultimate school than in 2008,” she noted.

Students also expressed frustration with firewalls that block websites they need for schoolwork. Forty-eight percent of high school students and 44 percent of middle school students said they “know how to be safe and protect themselves when online,” and when asked the best way for schools to make it easier to use technology, the No. 1 response from students was that schools should allow greater access to the websites they need.

Students also said they want more opportunities to use technology for collaboration. Forty-six percent of high school students said they regularly leverage their social networking site to collaborate with classmates on school projects. Additionally, a quarter of both middle and high school students are using web tools such as Google Docs to write collaboratively with others—in most cases, outside of school.

With all of these opportunities to leverage technology for collaboration, “it should not be surprising … to learn that 51 percent of students in grades 6-8 and 44 percent of students in grades 9-12 say that working with other students on projects is the best way for them to learn science,” the report said.

A major discrepancy appeared in responses to the question, “Is  your school doing a good job using technology to enhance learning and/or student achievement?” While 74 percent of high school teachers and 72 percent of high school principals said yes to this question, only 47 percent of high school students agreed.

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