Students say teachers limit technology use

Last week posts from two popular edubloggers hammered home the same point – that technology is going to make an impact on education whether we are ready or not.

These horses are out of the barn – Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog

There are some educational “truths” that we can’t change, even if we wanted to. These educational technology resources, annoyances, and conditions are here to stay despite some educators denial, resistance and fast grip on the status quo.

I Don’t Need Your Network (or Your Computer, or Your Tech Plan, or Your…) – Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed

When do we stop trying to fight the inevitable and start thinking about how to embrace it?

As usual, the students are way ahead of the curve. They don’t need a blog to tell them that their access to learning technology is being denied, meaning not just Internet access, but access to personal technology.

I blogged about this yesterday based on student focus group data, but here’s the qualitative data from over 280,000 K-12 students supporting the same thing. (Data from Speak Up 2008)

Student response to: Besides not having enough time in your school day, what are the major obstacles to using technology in your school? (Check all that apply) Grade 6-8 Grade 9-12
School filters or firewalls block websites I need to use



Teachers limit our technology use



I cannot access my personal email account or send email or IM to classmates



I cannot use my own computer or mobile devices



There are rules against using technology at my school



Internet access is not fast enough



None of the above



My assignments don’t require using technology



Software is not good enough



Computers or other tech equipment are not available



Teachers don’t know how to use the technology



I am unable to access the Internet



I don’t have the skills I need



When 34% of today’s 6-8th graders say their teachers limit them from using technology, what does this mean for the future? I think what children are learning is that teachers are out of touch with the real world, and worse, that school is where you literally power down and wait to be told what to do.

OK, granted — not every student has visions of exemplary learning when we ask them about technology. BUT, we simply can’t ignore this either. Many of these students ARE interested in learning.

It means we are telling them that they must achieve, but preventing it at the same time. And there is no one wiser to hypocrisy than a teenager. We run the risk of losing a generation of young adults who are taking a good hard look at the way the real world works and comparing it against the artificial limits placed on them in school. And when we tell them “it’s for your own good” we simply lose all credibility.

According to the student Speak Up 2008 data, only one-third of high school students who participated in the poll think their school is doing a good job preparing them for the jobs of the future. Think this is just kids whining? Nope – even fewer numbers of their parents think that. Yet, a majority of school principals (56 percent) say their schools are doing a good job. Who is kidding whom?

So this is straight from the horse’s mouth, not edublogger ponderings … what are we gonna do about it?


PS And do you know what YOUR students would say about this? Find out! Sign up for Speak Up 2009 (survey open until Dec 23, 2009.)

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