Statistically Speaking. . .

As I prepare for a presentation to my school faculty on why digital tools matter for our kids, I put together a document summarizing the results of a recent survey that I completed of the 120 students on my sixth grade academic team.

I figured you might be interested in the results—the handout can be downloaded at the bottom of the post. I thought the student comments about learning with technology (found after the statistics shared) to be particularly interesting, and think they paint an articulate vision for why technology matters in their eyes:

What do these statistics—collected from a 2008 survey of 120 North Carolina sixth grade students—mean for teaching and learning with technology?

Consider This:

  • 43% of students report using technology “multiple times per day” OUTSIDE of school.
  • 19% of students report using technology “multiple times per day” INSIDE of school.
  • 86% of students report that they wish more teachers used blogs, wikis, Voicethreads and podcasts in their classroom.

How are students using technology at home?

  • 97% of students report having an iPod or an MP3 player.
  • 93% of students report that they know more about digital tools than other members of their family.
  • 74% of students report exploring classroom digital projects while at home.
  • 64% of students report that less than one quarter of their computer time OUTSIDE of school is spent on schoolwork.
  • 60% of students report using technology to keep in touch with friends at least once a day.
  • 50% of students report playing video games less than one time per week. 26% report playing video games “Not Very Often.”
  • 32% of students report using their cell phones “multiple times per day.”

What digital projects are most motivating to students?

  • 92% of students report that they enjoy working on blogs and are proud of what they are creating.
  • 85% of students report that they enjoy working on Voicethread presentations and are proud of what they are creating.
  • 81% of students report that they enjoy leaving comments on blogs and Voicethread presentations.
  • 75% of students report that they enjoy reading blogs created by students in other places.
  • 66% of students report that they enjoy working on wikis and are proud of what they are creating.

What would students like to see their classrooms become?

  • 84% of students report that they wish we spent more time on blogging in class.
  • 73% of students report that they wish we spent more time on Voicethread presentations in class.
  • 60% of students report that they like talking with other students online about school related topics.
  • 46% of students report that they wish we spent more time on wikis in class.

What impact do digital projects have on student learning?

  • 96% of students report that they are proud of what they know about digital tools. 94% of students report that they “love it when someone leaves a comment on a blog entry that they have written or when someone responds to them in a Voicethread presentation.”
  • 95% of students believe it is exciting to create information that other people can read online.
  • 82% of students report that digital tools have made them more interested in the topics they study in class.
  • 80% of students report that comments and entries on blogs, podcasts, wikis, and Voicethreads have made them think differently about topics being studied in class.

General comments from students on technology use:

  • If a teacher makes you learn everything from a text book, the kids are going to get bored and they will get off task. If you use technology to teach the kids, they will get their work done faster because it is way better than reading from a text book. You don’t want to be carrying around a big textbook when you could do it online.
  • I think the blog, wiki, and Voicethread projects are a great idea to get us more active and into current events. I probably enjoy the Blurb the most because it is a world-wide website and I know what I post will be seen by others. Even though the Blurb is the best I would enjoy a bit more time with Voicethread in class because it seems to be more of a group activity. I am the most proud of the Blurb because it is used all over the map…for teaching!
  • I think that the Voicethread, wiki and blog are very helpful in class! It is such an honor to write things that other people will read all over the world.

Comments from students on Voicethread:

  • I like Voicethread because it really gets me thinking to read other peoples comments and I actually like to do something school related at home.
  • I really enjoy Voicethread because it’s a cool way to have a digi- conversation with people from your class, or other web surfers invited to view it. Several new ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of bounce around my head after I visit Voicethread. It’s something new everyday.
  • Voicethread is a cool way to interact! I’m proud to say that several amazing comments fill the pages and they’re written by bright students in our class.
  • Voicethread allows me to hear the thoughts of many other students just like me! I can think differently about the same topic, and people really do challenge my mind. I also like to respond to people and challenge their thinking and share the way I think with them.
  • I like Voicethread the most because I love how you can record your voice to share your thoughts with other people. I also like how you have a picture that is the main idea of each slide and you can also write about it if you do not want to record your voice. When you have people reply to your comment it feels good because it means people think your post is interesting.
  • I love how the pictures demand you to think extremely hard about the topic.
  • The reason why I like our Voicethread the most is because it gives you a chance to communicate with people online and also you get to see their opinion on the topic. It’s always fun to see what other people have to say about certain topics such as Darfur. I very much enjoy starting a conversation and adding on to a conversation. Personally I hate ending conversations because you never know if something is going to pop into your mind.
  • I personally like Voicethread the best. Commenting, arguing, discussing, and agreeing on many different topics over pictures is very fun. Although, sharing your views about things and having people respond is the best things about Voicethread!

Comments from students on Blogging:

  • I like using the Blurb because when I get older I want to have a career in writing or journalism and having the ability to publish work that anyone can see really boosts my confidence for a future career in that field. It also gives me experience to write for an audience. I think this could really help me to my work out there.
  • I am the proudest of our online blog. We really get to reach out and affect the thinking of other students in the world. We get to show them in a fun, interesting, commonly used way, many new things happening in the world and change what they currently think about the topic.
  • I like the Blurb to most because it really lets other students express themselves in a student-friendly way, and then we can receive comments, making us think harder about an event or maybe even changing our views.
  • I like that your can put up Blurb posts that everyone in the world is capable of reading. That’s what motivates me to make more posts. Also, the fact that a fourth and fifth grade class is learning about current happenings in the world from our blog.
  • I like the Blurb because it is very convenient for me. I really enjoy seeing my classmate’s work online, and someday I hope I can make a post all by myself. It is nice to be able to use the blog to learn. I really enjoy seeing our work on the Web!
  • I enjoy that other people around the world can read what we’re writing. They can even leave us comments and can provide suggestions on how we can make our writing better.
  • Our blog allows us to interact with other people in the world. I just think that it is cool that we are talking to the whole world with one site.  You can type up into Google “The Blurb” and our website will appear there. 
  • I love the blog because it really displays the great work even 6th graders can do. It shows you how great we can write and how we can still weave humor into our work.

After reviewing this statistical sample of student opinions about the role that technology can play in the classroom, consider the following questions:

1. What trends or patterns do you see weaving throughout the data and the student comments collected? Are there particular outcomes that seem to resonate with students? Particular products? What untapped potential can be found reflected in these results?

2. What barriers will our school have to overcome before digital tools play a larger role in the teaching and learning that takes place in our classrooms? What kinds of investments will we have to make (time, energy, partnership building, resource acquisition) to see digital learning become a more regular part of classroom instruction?

3. What one thing can you do from your position to make digital tools a more regular part of classroom instruction at our school?


Statistics in Handout Form:

Download TechSurvey_Statistics_Overview_2008_FINAL.doc

(Untitled Photo by BernJan, licensed Creative Commons:  Attribution.)

6 thoughts on “Statistically Speaking. . .

  1. Patrick

    What amazes me most about these statistics is that I have a survey, taken by a high school teacher, that is completely the opposite of this–students see no point to using wikis and blogs in classes. And in the instances where they do use them, they decry them as a complete waste of time.
    I need to take a close look at the pedagogy behind the use this summer, but still, the survey results (with a similar sample size) were amazing.

  2. Ben

    What strikes me most about your survey results is the number of times the students use the words “like”, “enjoy”, “love” and other emotionally-based verbs to describe their relationship with the process of collaboration and learning. When is the last time we have heard students use any of these words to describe textbooks, worksheets, or bubble sheets? I think that beyond the discrepancies your data show in implementation is the compelling argument that the students themselves see these tools as important to their learning. As professionals, we work with tools and lines of thought that are personally interesting. Why would so many deny their students the same opportunity? I think that the importance of your results lie not in the numbers, but the idea that students are excited to be a part of the numbers. This is an indication that they are motivated to use these tools. We should increasingly assist them in this excitement by providing more opportunities inside the classroom.

  3. Bill Ferriter

    John asked:
    Bill — I see in various places that K12 students are much less engaged in blogging than adults, and generally don’t rate blogs high on their list of favorite web tools. Do you think that your emphasis on blogging in your classes, and the success of the Blurb on the Web, has “skewed” your students’ views about blogs?
    And if so, what are some tips you have for teachers to build interest in blogs among their students?
    Hey John….
    I’ll answer in more depth in a future post, but the short answer to your question is that my students see blogging as something more than a way to write about classroom content.
    Instead, they see it as a way to share their opinions with the world—and to interact with the opinions of other student bloggers around the world.
    And middle grades kids are opinionated times ten!
    I think the biggest tip that I’d have for teachers interested in revving up classroom blogging efforts is to get kids reading blogs created by other students. Teach them that blogging is more than just writing about one’s own ideas. It’s about reading and reacting to the thoughts of others.
    Kids today are social in nature. They’re motivated by opportunities to interact—-which we systematically take away from them in our schools.
    By broadening your definition of “blogging” to include defined efforts to read and respond to others, your kids will be more apt to invest time and energy into blogging efforts.
    When it’s nothing more than a place to post classwork—and when kids don’t see themselves as a part of a broader community of writers, readers and thinkers—blogging becomes nothing more than a digital bulletin board.
    Rock on,

  4. John in NC

    Bill — I see in various places that K12 students are much less engaged in blogging than adults, and generally don’t rate blogs high on their list of favorite web tools. Do you think that your emphasis on blogging in your classes, and the success of the Blurb on the Web, has “skewed” your students’ views about blogs?
    And if so, what are some tips you have for teachers to build interest in blogs among their students?

  5. Marianne

    Hi Bill, just a suggestion — include a link to this webpage in your word doc with the results.

  6. Ann Oro

    I enjoyed reading the survey results and comments. I usually have my eighth grade write about their computer class experiences over the years as a last project. This year, I started in September with a 5th-8th grade survey about what they enjoy in computer class. I would like to give your type of survey at the end of the year. Do you have a link to the actual survey? Thank you for the download version of the report.

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