Students Still Like to Learn From Teachers, Many Dislike When Computers Become Proxies for Them

Students Like Tech, but Also Teachers

Children like technology. They like playing games, watching videos, finding music and interacting with their peers on social media. They like exploring the endless resources of the internet.

Educators notice this and assume that computers and other devices will capture students’ interest in school.

Ninety-three percent of principals and 86 percent of teachers say that increased student engagement is the most important benefit of using computers and tablets in classrooms, according to the latest data from the Speak Up Research Initiative, which surveyed more than 26,000 teachers and librarians and almost 2,200 administrators last year.

Nearly 70 percent of district administrators said they considered engagement to be the most effective sign that a piece of educational technology is useful.

Speak Up got a very different response from the roughly 290,000 students it surveyed: Just 41 percent of middle school students and 35 percent of high school students said they strongly associated classroom technology with increased engagement.

What is more, anecdotal interviews, along with data from YouthTruth, a national nonprofit that conducts student surveys, indicate that many students actually dislike when teachers turn over instruction to computers. They say they prefer learning directly from teachers — because they think teachers are the experts or that it’s their job — and many complain about spending too much time on screens, between their schoolwork and their use of technology at home.

Gen Z may walk through life glued to smartphones, but that does not mean they want to use computers in class. TARA GARCÍA MATHEWSON

Ray Myers