Many High School Students Bringing Their Own Devices to School, Survey Finds

By Sean Cavanagh — May 01, 2015 2 min read
Students photograph themselves with an iPad during a class at Broadacres Elementary School in Carson, Calif.
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Cross-posted from the Marketplace K-12 blog

Many students, particularly older ones, are making extensive use of their own digital devices in schools, in some cases more so than learning technologies issued by their districts, a new nationwide survey suggests.

The data could probably serve as a reminder to ed-tech developers that they need to be thinking about their tools’ and systems’ compatibility with the devices students already have—not just what districts are choosing as part of 1-to-1 computing efforts or other big technology purchases.

Fifty-eight percent of high school students, when asked what type of device they use at school, said they rely on their own technology, according to the results of the Speak Up survey, released this week by the Irvine, Calif.-based nonprofit Project Tomorrow.

A smaller portion of students, 32 percent, said they use “school laptops,” while 16 percent said they used school-issued Chromebooks, and 14 percent said they use school tablets.

Among students in grades 6-8, the portion using their own devices is much smaller, 23 percent, while the largest portion of students, 34 percent, said they used school laptops. See the full results below:

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Twenty-five percent of middle school students and 23 percent of high schoolers said they’re working in blended learning environments, as defined by the authors as including both self-paced, online learning and supervised learning in a brick-and-mortar school;
  • A large majority of principals surveyed, 69 percent, when asked about the benefits of online learning, cited its ability to keep students engaged. Nearly as many, 62 percent, said the ability of online learning to provide academic remediation options was attractive. Fewer principals, 47 percent and 44 percent, cited its benefits as an option for advanced coursework, or a solution for hard-to-staff subjects, respectively.
  • The largest portion of online courses in high school are offered in English/language arts, 54 percent, and social studies/history, 54 percent; followed by math, at 51 percent, and science, 49 percent, according to principals who responded to the survey.
  • The largest percentage of middle school students using various mobile devices reported using them for tasks that include taking online tests, creating presentations, and accessing Web-based services. Fewer are using them to watch teacher-created videos, or for posting items on class blogs.

The Speak Up survey is based on online responses to surveys conducted in October through December of last year.

Overall, 431,000 K-12 students were surveyed, along with 35,000 parents, 42,000 teachers, 2,500 librarians, 700 district administrators, and 3,200 school administrators, among others.

See also:

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