• Where do you go online (e.g., home,
school, library, friends’ house, other)?
• Where do you go most often?
• How often do you go online?
• How long do you stay when you’re
• What activities do you engage in?
• What are your top three activities?
(For sample questions, visit the Pew
Internet and American Life Project’s
2007 Writing and Internet adoption
survey. See Resources.)
Moreover, the majority of students
in the study reported basic competency in using word processing and
spreadsheet skills they said they had
learned in school. They used PowerPoint and paint/drawing programs
significantly more often than not, but
more sophisticated technologies such
as Web page creation software they did
not use more significantly than not.
We might question whether students are really as techno-savvy as
popular media often portrays or
whether they merely have a positive
attitude toward technology systems
and a broad knowledge of various
basic technologies rather than in-depth knowledge of niche applications (Walker & Jorn, 2007). Asking
students to rate their competency on a
range of school-based and non-school
common Internet-based applications
will help pinpoint who our kids are.
Ever wonder what students are doing
with technology outside of school?
The researchers found that students
reported high usage (very often or
often) of the Internet and cell phones
and were more likely to use Internet
technologies other than e-mail for
communication (e.g., chat rooms,
instant messaging) compared to
e-mail. Students’ activities outside of
school included using digital music,
Web-based gaming, cell phones, and
social computing tools such as social
network sites. Increasingly, research is
attempting to determine the informal
learning, if any, being demonstrated
in such activities (Greenhow, Robelia,
& Kim, 2008).
Finally, in analyzing students’ comments from focus groups and examining survey data, the researchers found
that kids these days expressed several
recommendations for educators.
Engage Us! First, students felt technology was an integral part of their
lives. They ranked using computers
and doing Internet research as the
school activities they liked best, and
doing worksheets as activities they
liked least: “using computers was the
one activity that all ethnicities…liked
best in school” (p. 506). They wanted
more technologies for learning in
school and distinguished their out-of-school technology use for personal or
social communication as “more entertaining” than the academically traditional technology use in school (e.g.,
word processing, testing, Internet research) (p. 507). The researchers argue:
“[A]lthough students reported using…
technologies in their classes, technology needs of the high frequency users
are not being met at school” (p. 511).
Prepare Us! How might in-school
learning build on enjoyable out-of-school experiences and vice versa?
Students imagined new uses of technology in school that were more
“creative,” “interactive,” and “
media-oriented,” as they are at home and
linked use of such technologies in
school to increased engagement. They
imagined classrooms with more portable technologies, wireless connectivity, and “bright inviting sitting areas
that let students work wherever they
are” (p. 510). Such findings are also
reported in earlier studies (Levin,
Arafeh, Lenhart, & Rainie, 2002).
Students also suggested loosening
up some of the technology restrictions
to incorporate and allow some of the
“everyday technologies” (e.g., mobile
computing and Web 2.0) that would
make school more directly related to
careers and future workplaces. Interestingly, their visions are not unlike
those in the global business or political community who see using newer
social technologies, such as social network sites, to energize employee/voter
participation and aggregate employees’
special skills, social connections, and
institutional memories across traditional boundaries (Falcone, 2008).
As students and parents have more
choices about how to spend their educational experiences (e.g., in online settings, in private, public, or home school
options), researchers and PK– 12 education are wise to follow where the kids are.
Falcone, M. (2008, July 13). In House: Tweets
fly over Web plan. New York Times.
Greenhow, C., Robelia, E., & Kim, S. (2008,
March). Examining the intersections of online
social networks, pedagogy, and engagement
among low-income students. Paper presented
at the American Educational Research Association, New York, March 24–28.
Levin, D., Arafeh, S., Lenhart, A., & Rainie, L.
(2002). The digital disconnect: The widening
gap between Internet-savvy students and their
schools. Washington, DC: Pew Internet &
American Life Project. http://www.pewinter-
Norris, C., Sullivan, T., Poirot, J., & Soloway,
E. (2003). No access, no use, no impact:
Snapshot surveys of educational technology
in K– 12. Journal of Research on Technology
in Education, 36( 1), 15–27.
Pew Internet and American Life Project’s
2007 Writing and Internet adoption survey:
Spires, H. A., Lee, J. K., Turner, K. A., & Johnson, J. (2008). Having our say: Middle grade
student perspectives on school, technologies, and academic engagement. Journal of
Research on Technology in Education, 40( 4),
Walker, J. D., & Jorn, L. (2007). Next generation students at the University of Minnesota:
Student educational technology survey 2007.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Digital Media Center, Office of Information