How common is it to see a group of students sitting together and everyone is on their smartphone? The technological environment of today’s student is so vast, just one swipe of a finger allows them to go online to research information for class work, make a purchase, or engage friends on social media sites.
“We Are Technology” founder Sam Midgett’ recently explored how technology is changing student culture and how to use it to elevate the classroom experience at a forum with Microsoft at Inglewood High School (IHS).
More than 50 students attended the forum to experience Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 4. Students were seated in small groups. Each student had an opportunity to handle the popular new gadget and give feedback about it. “Students today are digital natives,” said Midgett’. “They have always known instant, available wireless connectivity. Unfortunately, the use of technology in schools can be slow and fragmented. There is a noticeable lag
between what is happening in the outside world and what is happening in the classroom,” he said. We Are Technology Platform provides an opportunity to look at the linkages education technology provides to the community and the business ecosystem. Midgett said his driving mission is to close the digital divide between the technologies used in the workforce and IUSD’s classrooms to ensure that students can successfully transition into the job market.
Executive Director of Secondary Support Services Dr. Reginald Sirls said that Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) is trying to update classroom technology because “a lot of the 21st century learning skills are dependent on sufficient technology.”
“Students have been asked to test market the technology because they are pretty high level when it comes to tech, so we value their opinion,“ said Dr. Sirls, who oversees IUSD’s career and technical Pathways Program. “We get their feedback on what helps them learn and what keeps their interest.”
According to a study from the Pew Research Center in 2015, 92% of teens between the ages of 13 to 17 go online daily – including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly.” Much of the online usage is facilitated by smartphones.
Arman Mailian, a Microsoft Business Sales Specialist, said the new millennial learning model was influenced by the interactivity offered by the smartphone. The smartphone became available in 2007.
“Look around you,” said Mailian. “They are all on their phones. But when they have the Surface Pro, they put their phones down,” adding that students prefer an interactive device for learning verses a text book. Many of the students agree.
The text book generation is coming to an end. Students prefer technologies with the full functionality of a laptop but are lightweight, portable and can be used for all class subjects from math to graphic design. “I use my phone in class a lot
for researching or helping out with a subject,” said Tracy Douglas, 16, a junior at IHS. “The phone isn’t as helpful. You can’t access as many APPS. The Surface Pro is like a skyrocket. It’s so much easier to use,” added Douglas