U.S. Still Has More Work to Do in Technology Education
March 31, 2013
by Autumn Arnett and T.A. Copper
A new survey from Dell suggests that when meeting students’ technology needs, the U.S. can take a few notes from China. According to the findings, China is more likely to integrate technology into the entire curriculum, Chinese students spend more time using technology in school, and more Chinese students say teachers are technologically savvy.
Students in the United States are more prone to suggest that their technology needs are being met, and although the survey says Chinese students use technology the most, they desire to integrate it more into the curriculum.
Dr. Sameer Verma, a professor of information systems at San Francisco State University, is a big proponent of finding a way to incorporate technology into the entire curriculum, something the Dell survey says American educators have yet to fully embrace.
“Integrating technology into curriculum is extremely important,” Verma says. “Do not be afraid to reach out to your students for help, because this is their era and ultimately will become their legacy.”
Dr. Michael Mills, assistant professor of teaching and learning at the University of Central Arkansas, agrees that technology will continue to play a vital role in education.
“Apart from the engagement aspect of using technology, students must master the digital literacy skills necessary to thrive in today’s society and workplace,” he says.
The survey found that Chinese parents generally believe that their children have access to more technology at school than at home; U.S. parents believe the opposite.
“I think our students have access to sophisticated technology at home, and it hasn’t been implemented in the schools, so they feel they’re missing something,” says Dr. George Schuessler, director of academic computing at the Teacher’s College at Columbia University. “A key reason may be that there are not many advocates with power in various school districts to make the point that technology can really facilitate teaching and learning.”
While many in the U.S. concur that technology plays an essential role in education, most people believe that technology needs are not being met in schools today. Three-fourths of those surveyed in the U.S. believe there should be more technology in the classroom, compared to an overwhelming 95 percent in China.
Mills says this is because the United States has de-emphasized technology infrastructure spending in favor of meeting standardized testing benchmarks.
“We, unfortunately, have become a nation of short-term goals — pass this test, make this quarter’s profit goals … when we should be focused on what infrastructure should be built for long-term success,” he says. “Other nations, and China in some respects, see this need. South Korea is a model for this; their investment in per capita technology infrastructure should embarrass our nation’s leaders.”
Overall, 88 percent of those surveyed agree that technology aids in the preparation of students for jobs in the future.
“Employers need students who are digitally proficient, and many parents are beginning to understand this,” Mills says.
While more Chinese parents believe that their children have access to more technology at school than at home, in actuality, Chinese students are more likely to bring their personal devices to school. In the U.S., this is not so prevalent.
Verma struggles with the “bring your own device” concept.
“Right now, today, 70 to 75 percent of my students will bring their personal devices to class, but then there is that 25 percent that is left out for reasons that are primarily financial; however, I do believe that in three to five years things will change for the better in reference to students of the U.S. bringing devices to school. I am hopeful,” he says.
Schuessler says the incorporation of mobile technology in the classroom can be beneficial.
“Students using mobile devices are able to comfortably post their thoughts and reflections for discussion by the whole class or with each other in groups,” he says. “This sort of collaboration is much more easily accomplished using mobile technology with a good presentation infrastructure.”
Verma believes that the training is limited due to the constant evolution of technology and the high costs of keeping up with the latest, greatest platforms. Still, he believes that technology has opened the access door, making more resources available at students’ fingertips.
“Teachers, in my opinion, are no longer instructors as much as they are facilitators in this day and age,” he says.
Mills agrees. “Teachers have an opportunity to be guides for students, showing them how to critically evaluate digital information, how to create digital products and how to act responsibly in a digital world.”