Technology in the classroom – thoughts on the 2011 CDW-G Classroom Report

When I first started in my job as an Education Technology Consultant, I thought I’d be out of a job after a couple of years because of what I thought I saw with regard to students using technology in their daily lives.  Naively I thought that kids would be pulling all their tech knowledge upward into school, which would serve to prod educators to adopt the outside world into their teaching and learning practice.  Now that I know a lot more about where the majority of our educators and students are with their technology utilization, I’ve totally changed my outlook.

Recently, the second annual 21st Century Classroom Report from CDW-G was released and has some interesting findings that support the need for much more professional development both at the student and educator levels.  Here are just a few statistics of note from the survey:

On technology integration – 94% of students believe that mastering and learning technology will help their educational and career opportunities, however, 39% of students indicate that the technology integration is meeting their expectations.

It’s hard to tell what this actually means given that the response was either an ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ response to the question.  Does that mean that students would like their teachers to put more of their classroom content online, enabling 24/7 access? Does that mean that students would like to use online collaborative workspaces like an LMS or Google Apps for Education? Would they like to use laptops at their desks to take note, do research, update Facebook when they think no one is watching? 🙂

On Collaboration – 59% of students say they use technology to communicate (no indication of inside or outside school), however just 23% of students indicate that the use it for collaboration.

Again, it’s difficult to ascertain if the collaboration is occurring inside or outside school, however one thing we know from observing students is that they love to use social networks for socializing.  I wonder why they don’t collaborate more on their assignments, research and reports?  Is it that many kids don’t even know about Google Apps?  Do their teachers model its use? Is collaboration still considered cheating in school?

On What We Think We Know – A portion of the report provides some recommendations and one that stands out is that 74% of faculty and 70% of IT staff think they understand how students want to use technology as a learning tool, however 49% of students agree, and 30% of the students say that their school seeks any input on the types of technology that they might wish to use in their classroom.

I’m not all that sure that all kids even know what’s out there with regard to the technology that could be employed and what it takes in resources and infrastructure to make that happen, however it’s still interesting that there is a large gap between what we think we know and what the kids think.  I would say it’s worth at least asking them what their expectations are.

One of the pull-quotes in the report says

“I don’t want to type things just to say I used technology at school.  If I am using technology, I want to be doing something I couldn’t do without it.” – High School Student

Again, without seeing the raw data, it’s difficult to fully grok this, but are we talking about kids using applications like Google Earth to investigate and make connections about the word they live in? How about using Sketch-up to create models of their learning? Creating presentations using video editing tools?  I think this is worth asking the question: As a student, how could you use technology to help your learning that you otherwise could not?

This is a mere snapshot what is out there and I’m going to take a longer look at the findings to make more sense of it and how I can better help our students and teachers.  All I can say is – there’s lot’s of work to do.

Maybe our kids want to build their own worlds. What should we do to make that happen?



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3 Responses

  1. afroditi says:

    I gather the use of technology in classroom will never motivate the students as much as the loving feelings of a teacher who really wants to inspire students.The field of technology shouldn’t encroach on the field of actual classroom teaching.The students are human beings expecting to be intringued by another human being – their TEACHER and not by gadgets.Have we teachers forgotten our meaningful role in classroom and turn to gadgets to help us discipline and enlighten our students?

  2. L Lawliet says:

    These teachers aren’t turning to technology because they’ve forgotten their role. they’re turning to technology because of two reasons; because being able to utilize technology is imperative in our world and to enhance, not replace, themselves and their teaching roles

  3. Jaclyn says:

    I know how much my 5th and 6th graders love it when every I use any type of technology with them. I have never considered asking them the question how they could use technology to help their learning. I agree that I’m not sure they know what types of technology are out there that could help them. All the same, I am now quite curious as to what they would come up with.
    I am starting to integrate using Google Docs more with them. I plan on starting them out with Google Docs as a way for them to peer edit short stories and move into some collaboration type work.

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Technology in the classroom – thoughts on the 2011 CDW-G Classroom Report

by Ron Houtman time to read: 3 min