So Pass Out Devices Because Students Might Email More?

The Hechinger Report published an article last week about a survey of students about the use of school-assigned mobile devices (laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, etc.):

High schoolers assigned a laptop or a Chromebook were more likely to take notes in class, do internet research, create documents to share, collaborate with their peers on projects, check their grades and get reminders about tests or homework due dates. Among high school students assigned these devices, 60 percent said they had emailed their teachers with questions. That’s compared to 42 percent among students without an assigned device.

In focus groups, students explained that emailing their teachers was somewhat of an anxiety release, said Julie Evans, Speak Up’s CEO and the author of a brief about the findings.

“It isn’t as if they need the teacher to respond to them in that moment,” Evans said. “It’s more that they want to share the problem with someone.” And when they go to class the next day, they can arrive knowing their teacher is already aware of the problem.

Most high schoolers have a way to send an email from home, whether it’s from a smartphone or a family computer. But students with assigned devices from their schools are more likely to actually draft those emails and hit send.

Evans said sending those emails indicates students are independent learners who have the benefit of a school support system. She connected it to the portion of students who get electronic reminders about tests and homework due dates. Among high schoolers with assigned laptops or Chromebooks, 53 percent get those electronic reminders, compared with 39 percent of students who don’t have school-assigned devices, the survey found.

I don’t doubt any of these findings, but, unfortunately, this does not address any of the drawbacks of education tech like the growing number of kids with ADHD symptoms, a reduction in exam performance, how it negatively impacts how students read, and the data education tech companies are collecting on students

In other words, it’s hopelessly one-sided. Which is fine for an opinion piece, but not for a news article. 

Parents and schools need to decide whether a student emailing their teachers more is worth the cost. 

One thought on “So Pass Out Devices Because Students Might Email More?

  1. Another question would be how teachers feel about this. It may not mean the students are independent thinkers but are needing to lean on someone to tell them what to do.

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