As the new school year kicks off, students are eager to receive their new schedules, meet new teachers and classmates, and dive in to the next new technology available to them. Whether your students are kindergartners who will have their first exposure to computers, middle school students who will be taking their first online courses, or high school students who are glued to their mobile devices—most parents can expect to see some new application of technology, online learning, or blended learning in their child’s education this year.
Students Lead the Way with Self-Directed Learning
Interestingly, research shows that students are often the driving force toward online and mobile technology use in their education—even in schools and districts that lag behind in system-wide technology initiatives.
“Students have always self-directed some of their own learning, but with the explosion of mobile devices, 24/7 connectivity, and digital resources, students are leaving adults behind as they explore subjects that interest them in the ways they learn best,” says Dr. Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, in EdTech Magazine.
Every year, Dr. Evans’ organization, Project Tomorrow, reaches out to students, parents, and educators to find out how they are using technology for learning inside the classroom and at home. Their annual report on the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning helps shed light on digital issues that schools will face this year and the undeniable trend of students using mobile and online technologies to assist their learning.
Here are some of the ways the Speak Up study found that students are using mobile devices to self-direct learning this year:
- Performing research on the Internet (84%)
- Looking up class information (59%)
- Creating documents to share (54%)
- Taking notes (40%)
The study also found that 79% of high school students use the internet at least once a week to support homework and school assignments (48% use it daily) even though only 29% of teachers say they are assigning internet-dependent homework weekly.
Broadening Horizons: A Wish List for Online Learning
The Speak Up study also reports that middle school students are very interested in exploring online learning. While more than one-third of middle school students who participated in Project Tomorrow’s research have already taken an online math, science, or English course, the subjects that top their “wish list” for online classes this year include:
- College prep/study skills courses (58%)
- Art appreciation courses (58%)
- World language courses (56%)
- Career technical/vocational education courses (51%)
- Computer science courses (47%)
More than one-third of students surveyed say they want to use technology tools like online courses, online videos, digital games, and social media to learn about future jobs and careers that interest them. Never before have young people had access to so many digital resources that allow them to explore career opportunities, expectations, and pathways so they can plan their next steps early in their education.
Technology Transforms Learning for All Ages, All Needs
This year is an exciting time in K–12 education, whether you are a student, parent, or educator. The explosive growth of mobile and online technology continues to transform the learning experience. Now, more than ever, students are drawn to technological modes of research, instruction, and curriculum to meet their personalized needs and diverse interests.
Online courses like those from Fuel Education provide students with ultimate flexibility to take classes that may not otherwise be available to them due to a variety of reasons, such as staffing or course offering limitations in their school or district. From core subjects, to honors and Advanced Placement®, remediation and credit recovery, exploratory electives, career and technical education, and world languages, Fuel Education’s expansive catalog has more than 500 courses and titles for K–12 that are accessible from school or home.
To explore Fuel Education’s digital offerings by subject, grade, or course type, please download our course catalog.
To read more from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up study, click here.