Technology has become so integrated with our daily lives that most simply take it for granted. However, a new report by the Education Development Center (EDC) says that many high school students may not be as proficient with technology as they should, which could leave them unprepared for their future.
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) of New England is trying to curb this trend with research and initiative. The initiative involves a report regarding students and technology and a program that promotes integration of student-centered learning at the high-school level throughout the state, which hopes to help students be better technologically prepared for college, work, and life.
The report, “Integrating Technology with Student-Centered Learning,” prepared by EDC’s Babette Moeller and Tim Reitzes, looks at current literature and attempts to determine how technology might be used to personalize learning for students.
Many aspects of technology are taken into account, including computer programs, Web tools, games, and even mechanical and electrical engineering.
The report’s findings also concluded that 43 percent of students feel unprepared to use technology as they prepare for college and career life. Additionally, only 8 percent of teachers fully integrate technology into the classroom while many teachers themselves lack confidence in their own technical skills.
"Teachers and students often utilize technology and social networking in their everyday lives. However, in the past, technology has not always improved achievement," said NMEF’s Director of Research and Evaluation Dr. Beth M. Miller, in a MNEF press release. "As this report makes clear, we are truly at a crossroads in the potential for technology to enhance student-centered teaching and learning."
According to the report, technology alone is not the answer, but technology has the ability to greatly supplement student learning.
Three key areas are addressed in the findings: technology can help teachers address individual needs and steer students toward proper resources; technology can help prepare kids for life and work in the 21st century global economy while enhancing knowledge and skills valued by employers, but not usually noticed by standardized testing; technology can help shift responsibility for learning back to the student, allowing them to personally organize their own learning process.
Integration of technology and learning has also been documented to deliver student-centered learning in a cost effective way, while enhancing academic achievement, civic involvement and development of leadership qualities.
Many schools across the nation—both public and charter—have adopted the report’s approach. San Diego’s High Tech High, a group of K–12 charter schools, uses digital portfolios to assess student learning. Another school, Quest to Learn, is a New York public school that uses video games as its base curriculum."Our review of the research found evidence that technology alone will not enhance learning nor will it change traditional learning environments into more relevant, innovative ones," said report co-author Babette Moeller of EDC, in a MNEF press release. "But we did find that technology can be used effectively to personalize the learning experience when it is part of a larger student-centered learning plan and when teachers are involved in helping them make the most of it."