Speak Up survey highlights gaps in support of ed tech

Parents support the use of smart phones in the classroom, while most administrators still say no.

In an annual national survey, more than half of parents said they support the use of mobile devices for academic purposes inside their children’s classrooms and would even consider buying such a device for their children—while more than half of school administrators said they are not in favor of students using their own mobile devices in school.

This was just one of the significant findings contained in the 2010 Speak Up National Report, which polled students, parents, teachers, and administrators on their experiences and opinions regarding educational technology.

The survey revealed that students want more interactivity and collaboration in their studies, and parents are much more accepting of online learning than they were just a few years ago—but there are still many gaps in how students and their parents view educational technology and how educators view ed tech.

For example, the survey found that 67 percent of parents supported their child using mobile devices in the classroom for school work, while 65 percent of school administrators strongly objected to letting students use their own mobile devices in school.

“As parents are starting to use these emerging technologies themselves, they are gaining a greater appreciation for the potential they have to help increase their child’s productivity, as well as learning opportunities,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, which sponsors the Speak Up survey.

The Speak Up survey began in 2005 as a way for students to express their opinions on educational technology use in their schools, and the survey has evolved to cover new technologies as they emerge.

“Five years ago we asked students if they had an eMail address, and I would never ask that today,” Evans said.

In the fall of 2010, Project Tomorrow surveyed 294,399 K-12 students, 42,267 parents, 35,525 teachers, and several thousand librarians, school and district administrators, and technology leaders in 6,541 public and private school districts. The Speak Up surveys, conducted entirely online, included questions about the use of technology for learning, as well as online learning, mobile devices, and digital content.

The survey found a 42-percent increase over last year in the number of middle and high school students who own smart phones. What’s more, 53 percent of middle and high school students said the largest obstacle they face in using educational technology today is not being able to use their own cell phone, smart phone, or MP3 player for learning in school.

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