The report opens looking at 6th graders - which it says are more tech savvy with the emerging technologies than older students in high school. From my own experience I would tend to agree with this. The survey showed that almost 85% of 6th graders have cell phones and smart phones, but that many complain that school filters and firewalls block sites they would like to use for their schoolwork. I was interested to read that half of the 6th graders take online tests and that a quarter of them use e-textbooks. The question was posed: what will 6th grade look like in 2015? Will mobile learning, online classes and e-textbooks be commonplace? These 3 emerging trends directly address the new E's of education:
- Enabling - students are able to reach their potential through increased access to resources, extending learning beyond the limitations of the school.
- Engaging - students develop deeper knowledge and skills in problem solving, creativity and critical thinking with more engaging learning experiences.
- Empowering - students are able to take responsibility for their own learning.
The report highlights the "digital disconnect" between the tech-intensive lives of students outside of school and the experiences provided to use technology at school. What is clear in this report is that parents are using these tools themselves and are driving the use of these new technologies with students as they see the potential for using mobile devices within education to increase the effectiveness of the learning process and to expand opportunities for learning.
Several trends emerge from the survey:
- Mobile learning has increased hugely across the education sector in the past year - in some cases fueled by the wish to replicate the benefits of a laptop/netbook 1:1 programme at a much lower cost. Students see the benefits of anywhere/anytime internet research, the ability to communicate and collaborate with peers and teaches and the ability to create and share documents, video, podcasts and to record lessons. The report highlights the fact that over 50% of middle and high school students say their biggest obstacle to using technology in school is the policies prohibiting the use of their cell phones - the students themselves have a clear vision of what they want from mobile learning.
- Online learning is providing a different experience for students who claim they can get extra help from teachers and that they are more comfortable asking questions - this leads to more motivation and sharing of ideas with other students. Students are already using web tools such as Google Docs to write collaboratively with and place a high value on their ability to produce digital media such as blogs, vlogs, podcasts, digital stories and video reports.
- E-textbooks are seen by many schools as a good way of reducing the cost of providing textbooks and parents are embracing them as they are concerned about the weight of books students are having to carry around.
- Parental digital choice - the survey shows that parents are supportive of students' vision and are enabling and empowering the use of these emerging technologies. The report highlights that parents are purchasing these devices for their children in the same way that some parents have chosen to have their children attend private schools or to pay for tutoring - they believe that a technology-enabled education will directly influence their children's educational success. Parents are more aware that a one-size-fits-all approach may not fit their particular child - they want schools to use technology to create personal experiences for their children. They also find the static school website unacceptable - now they want more of an interactive, collaborative relationship with their child's teacher, perhaps through a class blog.
How are schools tapping into the potential of emerging technologies? Some innovative schools are adopting trends such as mobile learning, others are lagging behind. I hope our school decides to buy more iPads next year. I would love to be involved in such an exciting project to integrate their use into the classrooms.
Photo Credit: Meet Junior by Andy Ihnatko