Study: Student access to classroom tech limited

Students said their top priority is having their own computing devices.
Students said their top priority is having their own computing devices.

Just 8 percent of high school teachers said that technology is fully integrated into the classroom; and the technology that is available is primarily used by teachers, and not students, according to the results of a national survey of more than 1,000 high school students, faculty, and IT staff members. As a result, 43 percent of students said they are not–or they are unsure if they are–prepared to use technology in higher education or the workforce. CDW-G conducted the 2010 21st Century Classroom Report to understand how students and faculty are using technology.

“A decade into this century, the door to 21st century skills remains locked for many students,” said Bob Kirby, vice president of K-12 education for CDW-G. “Today’s students need an interactive learning environment in which the technologies that they use outside of school are integrated into the curriculum. With that in mind, districts need to focus on providing a hands-on technology experience that translates to students’ futures, whether in higher education or the workforce.”

While high school IT professionals provide support for technology such as wireless internet access, student computing devices, interactive whiteboards, and even virtual learning, less than half of faculty members are designing lesson plans that enable students to use technology in class, and just 26 percent of students report they are encouraged to use technology throughout the school day.

Nearly all students (96 percent) said they use technology at home to complete class assignments. However, lack of technology integration means most students are “powering down” in high school, even though 84 percent believe technology is an important educational tool.

CDW-G’s survey found that the student and faculty/IT disconnect comes down to a lack of understanding. Less than half (47 percent) of high school students say their high school understands how they want to use technology as a learning tool. Comparatively, 67 percent of IT professionals believe their district understands how students want to use technology. At the same time, 71 percent of faculty said they are not incorporating guidance from their department on how to provide technology-rich assignments.

Other key findings of the CDW-G 21st-Century Classroom Report include:
• Faculty and students are using next-generation technology such as MP3 players, smartphones, blogs, and podcasts in their personal lives, but it is not widely adopted in the classroom
• Digital content use, including online textbooks, eText, and open source content, is on the rise, with 42 percent of faculty and 33 percent of students reporting that they use it as an educational tool. Additionally, digital content ranks as a top three choice among students when asked which technology tool would be most useful to their education
• The technology gap may continue to widen, as 59 percent of IT professionals report that their high schools’ technology needs to be refreshed, is aging, or is in the dark ages. Just 10 percent of IT professionals report that their IT budgets will increase in the coming school year

In order to successfully prepare students for their future, the report recommends that districts:
• Understand student needs: Just one-third of students say their high school seeks student input on classroom technology. Consider using the 21st-Century Classroom survey tool to get an accurate picture of student, faculty, and IT staff needs. Use the results to discuss 21st-century skills with students to determine what technology they find most beneficial and seek guidance on how to effectively incorporate technology into the curriculum
• Improve faculty resources: Districts should bring together faculty and IT staff to discuss must-have resources and implement professional development that aligns and reinforces the district’s technology plan
• Look to the future: Focus on professional development and 21st century skills to create a curriculum and classroom environment that promotes learning and seamless technology integration. Consider how today’s students learn and how to bring their native technology into the classroom


21st Century Classroom Report

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