Each year, I have my sixth graders take a survey we call The State of Technology. The data I collect over a series of questions forms the basis for discussions (we will have next week) around digital citizenship and privacy and footprints. Plus, I find it fascinating to get a glimpse into what they do with technology and how they perceive it. I’ll share out more elements in the coming days, but these questions ask about amount of time on tech and what they do, as well as their impressions of themselves as tech savvy kids.
What observations can I make?
- First of all, notice the amount of time they spend with technology. Hours and hours each day. That’s a bit frightening, and it is something we grapple with in our home, too, with our children. I continually return to the questions as a teacher of the amount of screen time I am bringing into my instruction.
- Mostly, they are using the technology at home and not in school. No surprise there, I suppose, given the proliferation of devices now available.
- The shift to mobile devices over desktops and computers is clearly evident, and this has grown by leaps and bounds each year (reflecting society, I suppose). In fact, each time I introduce some technology in class, the first question is always: is there an app for this? (We had this yesterday, as we worked with Glogster for the first time)
- It’s also interesting that text messaging is still an extremeley popular use of technology, but playing in online gaming environments has grown considerably in the past year, and watching videos online is a steady growth pattern over previous years. What I would love to see is more growth in the categories around making, creating, producing … instead of the ones around watching, experiencing, staring.
- Finally, the question about self-perceptions shows another shift in my students. Not long ago, I would have had a whole group identifying themselves in the “uncomfortable” category, but now, the vast majority either feel comfortable with whatever device or platform we put in front of them, they also consider themselves “experts.” (Reality check: they still need guidance and help to see the larger picture of how things work, and why.) And when they think about their own use in comparison to their parents, well, kids always know best, right? Here, they clearly think they are more knowledgeable and savvy than mom and dad.
Peace (in the data to understand),
PS — Want a copy of the survey to use with your students? I think I created a blank template in Google Drive that I can share here with you. Feel free to use it as you see fit.