While all K-12 and college students today enjoy some familiarity with technology, Evans said their data shows that the leading edge of the truly digital native student today is at the 8th grade level. “What we’re seeing is that it’s the middle school students and younger that are actually more digitally native, not only more comfortable using technology, but that they are fully taking advantage of this technology to supplement their education. We’re seeing about a third of middle school students that tell us they are doing self-directed learning outside of school using some type of digital resource.”
"... The perception that these students were coming to class every day as empty vessels and their teacher needed to fill them with wisdom was not the case,” said Evans.Students are increasingly taking online classes to supplement their traditional classes - sometimes without their teachers even knowing. Furthermore, while schools and platform providers try to guess which devices are most popular among students, students are actually "very device agnostic. What is most important to them is to use the right tool for the right task." Given this growth in students' thirst for knowledge and growth in number of platforms that allow students to access that knowledge, educators and schools should be aware of how their students are adopting technology and should use that information to adapt to meet their educational needs.
As "digital natives," students are experts in digital technology use and should be taken into consideration when schools are creating policies regarding technology. Our Speak Up 2014 surveys feature questions regarding students' use of technology, such as the question:
Besides not having enough time in your school day, what are the major obstacles to using technology in your school?
Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents and educators to participate in local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about educational technology. Data from the surveys - including data regarding online classes - will be released in February 2015. Click here to register for Speak Up 2014 and mark your calendars for the survey's launch date on October 6!