Of the more than 364,000 students surveyed, 65 percent of middle schoolers and 80 percent of high schoolers have access to a smartphone — nearly triple the number reported from the 2008 survey. Speak Up reports that, in the decade since they’ve been collecting data on how new technological tools can transform education, there have been big, dramatic changes. When they took their first survey in 2003, students’ biggest classroom hurdles were access to the Internet and working on outdated computers. Today’s students, however, have surpassed those original blockades to digital learning and are now most concerned that they aren’t able to access the full range of learning tools available to them, due to firewalls that keep them from social networks and a range of websites, as well as school restrictions on their smartphones.On top of being experts at technology, students are also advocates for the use of technology in schools. A student from Brooklyn Tech High School in Brooklyn, New York, states that his school is "a bit technologically stunted" due to its lack of computers - some that aren't even connected to the Internet. He also notes that his school's ban on cell phones, iPads, and laptops is a huge mistake that limits students' ability to find information quickly and even promotes the use of cell phones for unrelated purposes, such as texting in class. However, having access to devices and high-speed Internet is just one problem that's waiting to be solved - teachers should also be trained in technology in order to stay up to date with their tech-savvy students.
Every year, Speak Up offers students an opportunity to share their opinions and ideas about technology use in school to their teachers, principals, superintendents, and even local governments. An example of a question from the student survey is:
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!