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School IT Use Falls Short, Survey Says

By Katie Ash — June 29, 2010 1 min read
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Educators have more work to do to meet student expectations of ideal classroom technology integration, says a survey by CDW-G released at the ISTE conference here in Denver.

The report from the Vernon Hills, Ill.-based education technology provider surveyed 1,000 administrators, students, and teachers. It found that 84 percent of students agreed that technology was important to their ability to work on class assignments, but only 57 percent thought their school was preparing them to use technology in college or the workforce.

The results of the survey were discussed Tuesday during a panel here featuring four IT administrators from districts around the country.

Part of the disconnect stems from how technology is used in the classroom, the survey found. For example, 60 percent of students said their teachers used technology to teach, but only 26 percent said that they were encouraged by teachers to use technology during class to learn.

One of the biggest discrepancies came from the technologies that students and teachers used at home versus the technologies they used in school. Seventy-six percent of students reported using social media tools, which are routinely blocked by school districts, for educational use outside school. Yet almost all the technologies that students regularly use, such as MP3 players, smartphones, online chats, blogs, and podcasts, were rarely used in the classroom, the survey found.

That’s a disconnect that has to change, said Rob Mancabeli, the IT administrator at Hunterdon Central School District in New Jersey. In his district, students are encouraged to use Facebook, MySpace, chat software, and other social media tools during school, he said. Students in his district use the online video tool Skype to practice speaking Spanish with students in South America, he said. And during class lectures, students in the district’s 1-to-1 computing classes participate in chats in which they can pose questions to their classmates about the lessons.

Bridging the gap between the technologies that kids are using at home to work on homework and those schools allow them to use in the classroom is an essential step to preparing today’s students for higher education and the workforce, the panelists said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.