Are Kids REALLY Motivated by Technology? [Slide]

One of the arguments that educators often give for integrating technology into the classroom is that 21st Century kids are more MOTIVATED by digital lessons than the old school practices we were all raised to know and love.

But is that REALLY true? 

Are today’s students — who have grown up connected and who often have devices dropping out of every pocket of their backpacks — more motivated by the gadget-happy lessons that define many of today’s “tech-savvy” classrooms?

Sean Crevier — a brilliant high school teacher that I had the chance to spend a few days learning with this week — says no:

(download slide and view original image credit on Flickr)

That’s an awesome metaphor, isn’t it?

More importantly, it’s a super-provocative quote that you can use to stimulate conversations about the work that you are — or should be — doing with technology in your classrooms.

Be sure to stop by Sean’s blog — which he just started today, by the way — and continue the conversation!


Related Radical Reads:

Classroom Technology and the Motivational Herring

The Gadget Happy Classroom Fail

Teachers, Chainsaws and the Dreaded IWB

Making Good Technology Choices



Original Image Credit: Running Shoes by Timothy Takemoto

Running Shoes

Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on April 13, 2012


17 thoughts on “Are Kids REALLY Motivated by Technology? [Slide]

  1. mayor, spellingcity

    The question is way over-simplified. Reminds me of the old time-and-motion efficiency studies when they found adding music to the factory improved productivity. So did turning up the lights. Giving a motivational speech. Turning off the music. Skipping the speech. It turns out that people respond well to surprises and change so any change in routine initially motivates. If you use technology non-stop, then sitting in a circle and talking is really cool. If you usually talk at the board, using technology is an exciting change. This is why a variety of approaches work. As does having a routine. Then breaking it!

  2. childcare jobs guru

    With the innovations of technology, the orthodox way of teaching makes it not appeaing to students. But it doesn’t mean that we have to keep up with the times. As a matter of fact, traditional teaching will always be the most effective approach. Teachers just need to flexible in each classroom setting.

  3. Janet Abercrombie

    Content comes first. Students should have something they want to communicate, create, or research before introducing the technology.
    My students get inspired when they see the many ways content can be communicated. They are motivated when they know that others in the world will read and comment on what they have to say.
    Tech is a tool. Good teachers are motivational. Good teaching combined with technology is incredibly powerful for students. See

  4. Sandy

    “The tools are important but cannot supplant a great teacher doing a great lesson on engaging material.” Therein lies the disconnect on this discourse that I hear frequently. This is not an “us vs them” or “an us vs it” issue. Bill said it best when he said technology makes it doable – “it” here being a great lesson.

  5. Robert Ryshke

    My experience is that students are not motivated specifically by the use of technology. It may be a function of the fact that few teachers use it really creatively. In our school, I see some teachers being really jazzed about the use of the technology, but I don’t see as many students being overwhelmed with the joy of using it. They work with it all the time, in their daily routines, but is has become a routine. They are not stretching the boundaries for how to use technology as a tool for collecting and processing data in real time, for example.
    So is it worth the hype. Not sure. The tools are important but cannot supplant a great teacher doing a great lesson on engaging material.

  6. Andrea Hnatiuk

    It’s not a matter of motivating by using technology for technology sake. Tehnology allows teachers to use the same tools kids use. We are meeting them where THEY are at, we are understanding that technology is a TOOL for learning – its a way to communicate. Using technology for technology sake is WRONG – Use technology for learning, match the use and its applications to your curriculum is RIGHT.


    My name is Lindsey Edwards and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed your blog post and you have a raised a great thought provoking question. The quote really makes you think about technology and its place in the 21st century classroom. Throughout my time in EDM 310 we have studied this topic quite a bit. I have found, that in my opinion there should be a balance between traditional classroom style and the use of technology. These are both very useful tools and I feel that they can be utilized most effectively when used together. We as teachers must be there to guide and educate the students. Technology can be used to engage the students in some various activities. Overall I believe there are positive and negative aspects of both methods. In order to be most effective we must have a balance of the positive elements found in both. I will be commenting again on another one of your posts in the coming weeks. Then I will be summarizing the posts as well as my comments on my class blog on April 29, 2012. The link to my blog is Thanks again for the great post!
    Lindsey Edwards

  8. Cameron

    I think the technology motivates the teachers.
    Years of same old, same old. It invigorates many teachers to think about how they can digitise something and (hopefully) at the same time they should be reflecting on the task itself and if it actually worthwhile.

  9. Susan

    I would say learning/doing something appropriately challenging. My students are in the middle of analyzing local census data (Statistics Canada) and using spreadsheets to report on their findings. They’re engaged, and appropriately challenged.

  10. crazedmummy

    However I do think kids are demotivated by not being allowed to use the tools they are used to using all the time – as if you were told you may not use a ballpoint pen, you could only use a feather quill and inkstand for writing. You’d just think people were crazy.

  11. Ms. K

    As a coach, I have seen many a teacher find a smart board lesson on smart exchange about 15 mintues before the lesson, and then present it to their class. They look surprised as they “teach the slides” to their class when they themselves are almost startled as they see material that they themselves aren’t quite sure about. In this case the principal’s mandate on teachers to “use technology” hasn’t quite helped improve instruction. However, I must say when teacher’s use it effectively students do seem engaged.

  12. Bill Ferriter

    What I believe, Kathy, is that good questions motivate kids. Taking action on causes that they care about motivates kids. Wrestling with interesting ideas motivates kids. Interacting with peers motivates kids. Pursuing personal passions motivates kids.
    Can technology facilitate that work? Can digital tools and gadgets and services and gizmos make that work more efficient and effective?
    ABSOLUTELY. I do all of those things in digital spaces.
    But the tools themselves arent motivating. My guess is that kids dont roll out of bed in the morning completely jazzed to come to school because theres an Interactive Whiteboard, an iPad or a blog waiting for them.
    Perhaps its a subtle linguistic shift — but we have to stop believing that the tools themselves are the motivators. Learning motivates. Curiosity motivates. Questions motivate. Interactions motivate.
    Technology just makes that doable.
    Does this make sense?

  13. Kathy D. Shields

    Bill, How are students motivated? If they are motivated by a new pair of running shoes to achieve their best time in the 100 yard dash, or if they do better on their unit test because they are wearing their lucky tennis shoes, what’s the difference?
    Is the motivation intrinsic or extrinsic and how can the teacher reach each student and help them discover their potential? In my class, I have some kids who are turned off by anything tech. I have others who find it helps them to run faster and jump higher.
    I try to notice what motivates each student. I like using technology as a medium; it opens doors for some to express hidden talents. In the end, it comes down to differentiated instruction and I am confident that technology play a pivotal role.

  14. Thepeachpie

    Yes! My daughter is in grade two and she has a view of a Smart Board from her desk. She says that she is motivated by “learning something knew and it has to be fun.”

  15. Becky

    I think kids are more motivated by learning/doing something new. You’re right, they are daily users of iPod touches, smart phones, etc. It’s not new to them.

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