What Students Think About EdTech

When it comes to education technology, we hear a lot of viewpoints: The entrepreneurs who design the edtech tools, the teachers who use them, the businesses that sell them. But what about the students who use them?

To fill in the missing puzzle piece to the edtech picture, we talked to a sample of K – 12 students to hear what they had to say about the technology being used in their classroom.

Many thought that technology was a big factor in their classes and said that the schools may even be using technology a little too much.

Ethan, from Hingham, Massachusetts, just finished fourth grade where they used COWS, or Computers On Wheels.  “We use them a lot when we’re doing research and writing big projects,” said Ethan.

Technology is woven into almost all of their classes with SMART Boards and computer labs, but Ethan said he doesn’t want any more tech. “This is about the amount [of tech] that I’d want to use, because I don’t want to start having iPads instead of textbooks. I don’t want everything to be computers,” said Ethan. “I think it would start to get boring, just staring at a screen all the time.”

Anthony just graduated from Council Rock High School in Pennsylvania, and agrees that there is no need for more technology to be brought into the classroom, “I believe that if we add more technology in classrooms, kids, teachers, and staff would just lose touch with each other. I see it enough already in school hallways switching classes.  Kids are glued to the cell phones, not even mingling with other kids. Which raises the question of – did we go too far with technology in some places we shouldn’t have?” said Anthony.

He sees this tech-centric way of learning as a slippery slope. “To me a classroom should have computers and the SMART Board,” he said. “Today you see everything from iPhones, iPads, Nooks, you name it. These are the things that are starting to distract kids from the teachers. Teachers don’t care if you’re using the phone; or on your personal electronic. They keep going on with the lesson, then what happens, the student falls behind.”

7th grader Sean goes to school in the Berlin-Boylston Regional School District where he is no stranger to technology. The tech-savvy school has iPads, a Maclab, SMART Board, and regular computer labs. In every one of his classes he uses some form of technology for work like blogging using kidblog.org, reports, and using educational websites. The teacher uses a lot of Internet resources such as National Geographic videos, web interactive timelines, and Glogster, which is a digital content platform that can be connected to use with tablets.

He enjoys the technology and even said that if they used it more he thinks it would be more effective. Yet, Sean said that even though technology is fun, there isn’t anything as reliable as paper and pencil. When the technology has glitches and the class is forced to go back to the basics, Sean said he realizes just how easy that method can be.

The technology at Sean’s school comes with a lot of opportunity to innovate and learn in new ways; it also comes with some complications. The iPad cart used in their school has generalized apps, but Sean says it is often that people forget their password, and the Apple ID makes it difficult to use the iPads in bulk.

Cape Fear Academy in North Carolina solves this problem by having students bring their own computers, or students can rent one for the year. Amber, a student there, said she thinks it’s a useful program. “I don’t know if there are many high schools in the country that promote independent laptop use for all students. I think it’s a great way to easily spread information in and outside the classroom and to engage this internet-savvy generation.”

So many schools are approaching technology in different ways. The one question they must answer is, how much technology should they integrate into the classroom? The students being brought up on this edtech may be one good resource to help answer this question.

Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360

Michelle Harven

Michelle Harven

Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.