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Tech-savvy teens take skill to the classroom

If wrenching your teen off the computer has become an epic battle, don’t despair.

If wrenching your teen off the computer has become an epic battle, don’t despair. A new study by two University of Calgary professors shows that tech-savvy students are, in fact, at an advantage in the classroom – provided they have an equally engaged teacher.


Sharon Friesen and Michele Jacobsen doled out laptops to students at the Calgary Science School and spent three years observing how the students’ interacted with the technology.


The purpose of the investigation was for the two Faculty of Education professors to understand how learning was impacted in well-designed, well-supported, personal technology-enabled environments.


Not surprisingly, they discovered that the students, ranging between grades four and nine, appeared to benefit from having that level of access to technology.


“We found they were a lot more creative in the types of projects teachers did with students, and they pursued more long term projects because the kids could take the technology with them at night to work on projects at home,” said Jacobsen.


The findings don’t surprise Brentwood Elementary School teacher Stephen Hart, who says teachers across the spectrum of subjects should find ways to integrate technology into their lessons.


“In my own observations, students tend to become very excited about the projects that involve computers, and really take ownership of them,” he said. “They’re excited about making new developments and seeing the final product.”


But, in spite of all the new advances in classroom technology, Jacobsen stresses the importance of having teachers on board.


“All the technology in the world is not going to change things in classrooms if the teachers aren’t designing rich learning experiences for the students. So engaged teaching matters more than ever.”

 
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