Using Technology In The High School Classroom

With high school teachers facing more pressure than ever to prepare their students for the all-important state standardized exams, AP exams, and college admissions exams, what role does technology have in preparing students for these all-important tests? Or does the current system force issues the other way – the packed programs necessary to ready kids for standardized exams pushing teachers away from implementing new technology in the classroom?

After all, there is always a learning curve when it comes to applying new technologies, would a teacher who takes the time to implement a laptop program in their course pay the consequences when it comes exam time if the new time taken to implement the technology costs valuable cramming/prep time?

Unfortunately, many overworked high school teachers view technology as a tack-on to an already chock-full curriculum, rather than as an essential part of learning. Can you necessarily blame them? Without implementation from the top-down, technology in the classroom will always lag behind the real-world implementation.

The Importance Of Computer Literacy

With the prevalence of computers in today’s society, what responsibility does the education system have for ensuring that kids are not only computer literate, but proficient in the use of software and technology? Should a basic level of computer proficiency, or even computer programming ability be mandatory study? Much like math, or science, or social studies?

How To Implement Technology In The Classroom

At any level of the K-12 education system, a common issue with the implementation of new technology in the classroom is that teachers continue to give their lectures, assignments, and tests the same way they have in the past, except where technology offers an obvious and convenient role. For example, projectors might be used for presentation, or students may use their laptops in the classroom for note-taking. But surely, technology can be better implemented in the curriculum with better top-down instruction?

These are the questions that will be discussed and addressed through this blog. There may be no such thing as a perfect solution, but discourse is the first step towards progress.

Teens, Technology, and School (Pew Internet)

This data memo from the Pew Internet & American Life Project digs into their recent teen internet use survey and is rife with implications for schools. Among the key findings:

  • 68% of all teen (youth between the ages of 12 and 17) have used the internet at school;
  • This means that 32% of teens do NOT USE THE INTERNET AT SCHOOL, despite the fact that all schools are connected to the internet.
  • Of all online teens (i.e., 87% of all teens who go online from any setting), 18% go online at school most often;
  • Less than 1% of online teens who go online at school say that school is their only means of access and just 13% of teens who go online at school do not also have access at home;
  • Income only explains part of the reason teens do not go online at school (or at all). Fully 31% of those who do not go online at school live in a household with an income of $75,000 or greater. (Gee, could be that leadership and vision is an issue…)
  • Teens and parents largely agree that the internet helps teens do better in school (88 and 83% respectively);
  • Teens use the internet to cheat on schoolwork – more so than their parents realize – but, hey, let’s recall two things before we pick up this drumbeat: the internet did not invent cheating (I’ll admit to copying passages verbatim from the World Book oh so many years ago) and, of course, parents think it is going on less than kids say it is…please. New responses from teachers and schools are needed and also – take heed – are enabled by the internet.
  • Of those teens who IM, 78% use IM to talk about homework, tests, or schoolwork – esp. teens with broadband access at home.
  • 57% of online teens have to use the internet to look up info on a college, university, or another school they are thinking of attending.

This is fantastic work and a great public service to have this information. Having said that, what we need is more and regular work like this if we are truly to understand the vast changes underway and the opportunities we are being afforded. Kudos to Lee Rainie, Amanda Lenhart, and all the other crack staff at PIP.

Would that the federal government pick up this line of inquiry, recasting their regular school internet access survey which has long ago run its course.

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