What kids like

More schools and districts are moving toward 1:1 access to digital tools, either through BYOD initiatives, school-provided devices, or a combination of these approaches. Obviously, cost factors are a huge consideration for districts as they decide how to provide ubiquitous access to their students, but what do students actually prefer as a learning tool?

A Harris Poll sought to answer this question by polling over 2,200 students in grades 4 through 12. Not surprisingly, the findings indicated that SmartPhone ownership among students increased since the previous year’s survey, and also increases with age. For example, 80% of tenth graders indicated they owned a SmartPhone, while only 35% of elementary students did. That certainly makes this a viable potential learning tool at the upper grades, but less so in the elementary and middle grades.

As far as their preferred learning device, there was no clear overall winner, but tablets were the most preferred by elementary and middle school students, while high school students preferred laptops or Chromebooks. The findings did not indicate a reason for these differences, but one might presume that high school students have the need to produce large amounts of text, making the laptop the most efficient device for the tasks they need to complete.

One area where students of all ages seem to agree is that they would like to use mobile devices more often in class. Over half of all students agreed with this statement, with less than 10% indicating they would like to use devices less.

While WiFi access outside of school is a key concern for educators, this survey suggested students were more likely to have access at home than at school. With over 90% of students of all ages indicating they have WiFi access at home, we might need to focus our efforts on providing access in our facilities, though this certainly may vary across districts and geography.

While the survey methodology was intended to produce a sample that is representative of the greater grades 4 through 12 population, it certainly cannot answer every question for every school. When making purchasing decisions, however, do you ask your students what they prefer?

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