Monday, September 9, 2013

Tech-savvy students: What does it mean for our schools?

This past summer, I worked as a counselor for an Academic Enrichment Camp for fifth and sixth graders. I was shocked at how many of my campers owned - and perhaps more importantly, knew how to operate - smartphones. My campers knew about certain apps and settings on their iPhones that had yet to discover or master, and I was wowed by their tech-savviness. As a future teacher, I have often wondered how our increasingly digital world and "plugged in" population will effect our classrooms. I looked at the infographics "Kids of the Past vs. Internet Generation," "This is How Students Actually Use Smartphones," and "K-12 Technology Usage" to better my understanding of this relationship.  Both "Kids of the Past" and "How Students Actually Use Smartphones" both confirmed and challenged some conceptions I had about my own generation and Generation Z.  I wasn't surprised to see that indoor activities, such as video games, have seemed to replace outdoor activities in terms of after-school events, and that the majority of time spent on smartphones is related to social networking sites (mainly Facebook). I was surprised by the numbers for newspaper and daily reading provided by the "Kids of the Past" infographic - I thought the numbers would be lower, but was not surprised to see that the Internet has become an increasingly important source for news information. These two infographics confirmed what my summer campers first introduced: that smartphones, and the technology that comes with it, are an increasingly important and essential part of our world. The question then is how to integrate this technology into education. The infographic "K-12 Technology" demonstrates that there is much room for improvement in regards to how schools use technology. Though the infographic reports that teachers believe their schools have high-speed broadband access, there is still opportunities for schools to improve their approach in order to use technology to create dynamic efolios for students and develop interactive, adaptive lessons using multimedia courseware and simulations, such as smart boards. Given the increasingly tech-savvy population of students, these technological educational tools seem to represent an opportunity to create engaging, interactive classrooms.

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