K-12 Students on Tech in Schools: More, Please

Half of middle and high school students judge the amount of technology use in their schools as "moderate." A third of them consider that just fine; but 55 percent would rather see more technology in use (boys more so than girls).

Six out of 10 teachers expect technology to become "very important" two years from now, whereas 41 percent consider it very important today. Another 47 percent consider it simply "important."

In other words, both students and teachers are in agreement that technology use in the classroom has value. However, most teachers consider meeting student achievement standards the biggest priority for the use of technology in schools (84 percent), whereas students say that technology makes learning "more fun" (93 percent), "more interesting" (92 percent) and important for teaching skills that will help in getting a job (92 percent).

Those results come from a research project done by CompTIA, a member organization for IT professionals. Results from "The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology" were based on two online surveys conducted in September. In one, 400 educators and administrators in the K-12 sector in the United States answered questions; in the other 1,000 middle and high school students were questioned.

Among students, boys show more confidence in their technology skills levels than girls. Whereas 60 percent of boys said they assess themselves at a "higher level," only 46 percent of girls do so. Whereas 39 percent of boys said they rate themselves as "average," 51 percent of girls do.

They cite a number of areas where they'd like to develop their technology skills at school. At the top of the list: gaming simulation (52 percent) and computer troubleshooting (49 percent).

The rating for computer troubleshooting "is especially interesting," the report stated, "given that this is an area...that receives far less attention than most of the other items on the list." As the report's authors noted, "Computer troubleshooting often provides one of the best entry points for a career in technology because of the established training and certification programs, as well as the reasonably steady supply of job openings." CompTIA provides a certification program particularly for people in help desk and basic IT operations roles.

Nine in 10 students reported that the use of technology in their classrooms will be important in helping them get jobs.

"For some it's difficult to grasp just how quickly the digitization of the workplace is occurring," said Carolyn April, CompTIA senior director of industry analysis. "Even occupations that may seem far removed from tech-intense jobs may now have a significant technology component."

The report also offered a number of obstacles to technology adoption reported by educators. Topping the list at 79 percent was financial considerations. Coming in at 42 percent and 41 percent, respectively, the usage fees associated with some technologies and training and user adoption issues. The most problematic challenge for the use of technology already in schools is outdated devices, cited by 53 percent of educators. That's followed by insufficient training, referenced by 47 percent.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.