What do kids want in school?

IM, computer simulations instead of textbooks, cameras, video, digital everything, NetDay study finds. How many schools do you know ready to meet that challenge.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
Just when teachers thought it was hip to confer with their students via e-mail, students feel the idea of waiting hours for a response is too old-fashioned. IM is the way they say what's on their minds, a new survey by NetDay finds.

According to an eSchoolNews story, the study found that email is ubiquitous among teachers who want to communicate with colleagues, administrators and parents -- and 35 percent say they use email to reach students themselves.

But students have once again left teachers and administrators in the dust when it comes to adopting technology. Sixty-five percent of 6th to 12th graders surveyed said they use email or IM every day. But they are much more likely to use IM than emai to communicate with each other.


"Students have told us that email is still valuable--mainly for storing and transmitting documents and for communication with adults," said Julie Evans, CEO of NetDay. "IM is more valuable to them because it is instant, and they can speak with multiple people at the same time. I believe that this highlights a greater sophistication in student tech use - and a trend for us to watch."


Not surprisingly, most schools deter students' tech use at school. The No. 1 complaint of students was institutional rules prohibiting cellphone use, IM, email, or other forms of communication.

"Students felt [most limited by] the limits teachers are putting on where and when they can use technology [to communicate]," said Evans.

Karen Bruett, vice president of education for Dell Inc., a sponsor of the Speak Up study, agreed.

"Kids use these tools at home every day. What we're telling them is that, when you come to school, you should stop communicating the way you do in your everyday life," she said.

When asked what the single most important piece of technology students would need, the answer was a personal laptop to take home. More than 40 percent of this group said a modern classroom should include cell phones, interactive whiteboards, televisions, digital cameras, video cameras, scanners, and CD/DVD burners.

Students also want to see technology integrated into their lesson, and that they want math and science simulations rather than textbooks. More than half of the students who responded felt there was not enough computer use in the classroom.

"This year's Speak Up findings demonstrate that students of all ages are 'pushing the envelope' in their innovative use of technology for learning, communications, and networking. The Speak Up data provide education, business, community, and policy leaders with a unique opportunity to learn from today's students and use that information to create 21st-century learning environments."said NetDay's Evans.

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