This report is a must read for educators, IMHO. It is exciting that students are using the digital learning environment to delve deeper into subject areas that interest them. Their reporting from students at schools with access to technology and digital learning that all students would benefit from and should have the same access is valuable information. Students want to learn in a way that is meaningful for their lives. Using tech develops workforce skills that they will need: collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and self-directed learning.
Noteworthy is the report’s findings on today’s students’ vision for the 21st century education experience: learning that is socially-based and collaborative, learning untethered from traditional constraints or limitations of education institutions, and learning that is digitally rich in content and relevancy. The report talks about five learning environments that can support this modern learning style: mobile, blended, virtual, STEM and “Free Agent Learning” where kids use many different tech tools outside of school.
The report lists how 6th to 8th graders use mobile devices/technology for schoolwork. They watched teacher created videos and posted to class blogs less than any other activity like reading online textbooks or taking online tests, so there is a lot of room for growth in these areas and perhaps more teachers need to be trained and enabled to flip their classrooms and create class blogs. A majority of students are also dependent on mobile data plans to access the Internet. Educators should be aware of this and try to give students time at school to use the Internet if needed. More dialog about the efficacy of allowing students to use their own devices in school and having unlimited access to wifi is also needed since students are calling for it and since many seem to already have similar privileges outside of school.
The report will help me plan my instruction by its highlighting of benefits of digital learning, according to the students themselves: they learn at their own pace, develop creativity skills, collaborate more with classmates, have increased control over learning, increase their understanding of class materials, develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, learn in a way that better fits their learning style, and spend more time mastering a skill or learning something. Who wouldn’t want these benefits for their students? I think planning a mix of digital experiences combined with personalized instruction in the classroom will reap rich rewards for learners and prepare them for the life-long, life-wide, life-deep, 24/7 learning that today’s learners want and need to be successful and empowered learners.