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NetDay Student Voices Contribute to the National Education Technology Plan
Seattle, WA—Three students from public schools in rural, urban, and suburban neighborhoods offered their recommendations and advice about using the Internet for learning to a gathering of education, business, and policy leaders at the National Education Computing Conference. NetDay CEO Julie Evans organized the panel to ensure that student’s perspectives informed the National Technology Plan being developed by the U.S. Department of Education.
“Students are the natives, and we are the tourists,” said John Bailey, director of educational technology at the Department. As he described the process for gathering public input for the new plan, he emphasized the importance of including student voices. He said: “Student’s attitudes are different and there is a disconnect between perceptions of educational technology practice between students and school leaders.”
Like most young people today, all three students have multiple screen names they use for instant messaging (IM). Annexis uses IM to stay in touch with a friend in Germany and Chris has the computer on with IM active whenever he is at home. Following the panel and sight-seeing in Seattle, they all went back to their rooms to log-on and connect with friends.
Despite school efforts to block the use of IM on campus, many students have found their way around it. When asked if they had ever sent an IM from school, their responses sidestepped a simple yes or no:
Roadblocks to School Use
At Chris’ high school, students have access to technology in the library and during scheduled classes in a lab. He is frustrated when teachers cannot troubleshoot problems or accept help from students.
“If a student offers to help, the teacher is taken aback,” he said. “They are fearful and suspicious about what I want to do to help them.”
Visions of the Future
In closing, the students offered their recommendations and advice to the creators of the National Technology Plan. Chris said that technology should be integrated into the curriculum both vertically and horizontally across all subjects. Byron wanted to make sure that everyone learns to use technology both for high school and learning in college.
“I don’t have a recommendation, I have advice,” said Annexis. “Don’t limit yourself. When you limit yourself, you limit your students and we want to learn.”