digital learners

Startling: New report reveals 10 ways students are outpacing their schools

Students reveal their favorite technology learning preferences and talk about where digital learning can take them

Here are 10 important things to know about today’s digital learners:

1. The next step: self-directed mobile learning. There are twice as many students with Chromebooks now than there were in 2014. Students in grades 6-12 are using mobile devices to self-direct learning, including doing online research (84 percent), looking up class information (59 percent), creating shareable documents (54 percent), emailing teaching questions (47 percent), setting due date reminders (43 percent), and taking notes (40 percent).

2. Changing rules regarding school technology. In 2011, 50 percent of students said they couldn’t access social media at school. Today, only 38 percent have the same complaint. In 2011, 32 percent of students said school internet was too slow; 53 percent say that is a big problem now. Forty-two percent of students say too many rules at school limit technology use.

3. A new generational divide among students. Thirty-seven percent of students in grades 6-8 say they are playing online or digital games for learning purposes at least weekly; only 1/4 of high school students say the same. The top benefit of learning games, as indicated by students, is that they challenge students to think more than other class activities.

4. Learning online is more available. Middle school students say they are very interested in online learning. Their wish lists for online classes include study skills (58 percent), art appreciation (58 percent), world languages (56 percent), career tech ed (51 percent), and computer science (47 percent).

5. Getting the news, the student way. Students say they most often use a mobile app to get news alerts, and they read a print news story least often. Only 41 percent of students say they know how to detect bias in what they read online or evaluate information accuracy.

6. The internet is an all-purpose study guide. Seventy-nine percent of high school students use the internet at least once a week to support homework and school assignments (48 percent use it daily), even though only 29 percent of high school teachers are assigning internet homework weekly. And where do students go online? At home (79 percent), on campus before/after hours (50 percent), at a fast food or coffee shop (28 percent), and the public library (20 percent).

7. Student-teacher conference. Two-thirds of students say teachers should just talk to them in class, and just 28 percent say a text is best.

8. coding for the future. The majority of students are interested in coding, but boys are ahead–66 percent of boys and 58 percent of girls in grades 3-8 want to learn to code. By high school, only 50 percent of girls say the same. Thirteen percent of elementary students say they are already coding.

9. Summer camps give way to online videos. More than one-third of students say they want to learn about future jobs and careers via online courses, digital games, online videos, and social media. Students showed decreasing interest in summer camps, after-school programs and student competitions.

10. Technology and learning is the future. Students say that learning how to use technology is important for their future (51 percent), and that learning and using technology results in college- and career-ready skills like creativity (46 percent), collaboration (48 percent), and problem solving (41 percent). Students also use technology more often for learning outside of school than in school (56 percent).

Laura Ascione

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