Top Posts #7 – Pew Survey Shows We Are Not Adequately Preparing Students

As I look to unplug a bit during the first week of summer vacation, I am continuing to repost my top posts from last year. Below is #7 from last November.

Analog Digital
Analog Digital (Photo credit: DigitalAlan)
A very interesting study, titled How Teens Do Research In The Digital World, was released by the Pew Research Center this week.  Unfortunately, the part that seemed to get the most publicity centered around the fact that the majority of the teachers surveyed, 64% to be exact, said that “digital tools do more to distract students than to help them academically.”
A Mashable post by Neha Prakash caught my eye with a headline title Technology Creating A Generation of Distracted Students.  
A More Accurate Headline in my mind would have been – 
Majority of Teachers Take No Responsibility For Lack Of Student Classroom Engagement

The feelings of teachers surveyed are contradictory. On one hand, those surveys say the following:

“Overall, teachers who participated in this study characterize the impact of today’s digital environment on their students’ research habits and skills as mostly positive…”

On the other hand those surveyed said this:

“some teachers worry about students’ overdependence on search engines; the difficulty many students have judging the quality of online information; the general level of literacy of today’s students; increasing distractions pulling at students and  poor time management skills; students’ potentially diminished critical thinking capacity; and the ease with which today’s students can borrow from the work of others.”  

The findings in the excerpt above leave me with the following questions:

  • Who is responsible for teaching students how to judge the quality of online information?
  • Whose definition of literacy are we using here? 
  • How many educators can meet NCTE’s definition of literacy?
  • Are students distracted because of technology or because of boring lessons/assignments?
  • Can’t increased access help us improve the critical thinking capacity of our students?
While many things have changed for learners and things have certainly become more complicated on many levels, one thing that has remained a constant is the fact that who we know is a critical facet in our learning journey.  We need our students to have access to people who see the possibilities and are willing to embrace some of the struggles that are inherent in a world where learners have so many options.  
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