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June 29, 2010

Are High Schools Regressing While Technology Progresses?

By Mini Swamy, TMCnet Contributor

The 21st-century classroom leverages technology to engage and empower teachers and students, but have we really achieved what we set out to do? This is the question that CDW (News - Alert) Government LLC, referred to as CDW-G, has tried to answer by conducting a national survey of more than 1,000 high school students, high school faculty, and district IT staff members from across the country about how technology was being used in their respective institutions.

 CDW-G, a leading source of Information Technology solutions to educators and government, announced the results of the national survey 2010 21st Century Classroom Report, which represents rural, suburban and urban schools of all sizes.
The results indicate that only eight percent of high school teachers agreed that 21st century technology had been completely integrated into the classroom, and even this was being used primarily by teachers and not by students.
Being discouraged from using technology in the classroom had a great impact on the mindset of the students, as more than 43 percent of them indicated that they were disinclined to use technology in higher education or at the workplace.
Bob Kirby vice president K-12 education, CDW-G lamented that although 10 years had elapsed, the door to 21st century skills still remained locked for many students. The interactive learning environment was essential for students, and districts needed to focus on providing hands-on technology experience that translated to students' futures.
While high school IT professionals provide support for technology such as wireless Internet access, student computing devices, interactive whiteboards and even virtual learning, designing lesson plans that enabled students to use technology in class was really not forthcoming and only about 26 percent of the students claimed that they were encouraged to use technology throughout the school day.
Almost 84 percent of the students believed that technology was an important tool, and almost all the students used it to complete class assignments at home. This indicated a serious lack of technology integration at schools.
What can be inferred from the study is that in spite of at least 67 percent of the faculty understanding how students want to use technology as a learning tool, almost 71 percent of faculty were incapable of incorporating the same in the classroom.
On the part of the high school students, less than 47 percent of high school students said that their high school understands how they want to use technology as a learning tool, but did not actually understand how to implement it. It all boils down then to the lack of sufficient understanding.
The CDW-G 21st-Century Classroom Report also included other pointers.
Both faculty and students were using next-gen technology such as MP3 players, Smartphones, blogs and podcasts in their everyday lives, but failed to adopt this in the classroom.
Almost 42 percent of the faculty and 33 percent of students reported that they used e-text, online textbooks, and open-source content as educational tools, with digital content ranking as the preferred technology tool among students.
The report also indicated that 59 percent of IT professionals reported that their high school technology needed either to be refreshed or was badly outdated, and just 10 percent of IT professionals reported an increase in their IT budgets in the coming school year.
In order to successfully prepare students for their future, the 21st-Century Classroom Report recommends that districts understand the students needs, discuss 21st century skills with them, and determine how to effectively incorporate the same into the curriculum, and offer guidance so that student enhance their skills.
The complete study can be downloaded for reference.
A wholly owned subsidiary of CDW LLC, ranked No. 41 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies, CDW Government LLC's technology specialists and engineers offer expertise in designing customized solutions, while its advanced technology engineers assist customers with the implementation and long-term management of those solutions.

Mini Swamy is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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