August 25, 2011
A recent post about Socrative used statistics to criticize the program’s viability in the classroom.
“Is Socrative viable for all classrooms? Probably not. A 2009 survey by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow found that about 31% of ninth- to 12th-grade students had smart phones with Internet access. Rieser uses Socrative with a cart of laptops that travels between classrooms, but many schools don’t have as easy access to technology — even if such access is generally improving.”
This statistic didn’t jive with the observations I’d made of my student’s use of smart phones. At the urban comprehensive high school I work in, there’s been an exponential growth in the use of smart phones among our 4,029 student popultion. If I had witnessed this growth among a population of students, of whom 69.4% are classified as low-income, then I had reason to believe such growth was happening at equal or greater rates in more affluent schools. So, I googled the report and read it in its entirety. Surprisingly, I found that the 31% statistic was part of a sentence that confirmed my observations of student smart phone use.
While it was true that only 31% of students used smartphones in 2009, “student smartphone use has more than tripled among high school students since 2006, rising to 31 percent of students in grades 9-12.” This sentence was not meant to demonstrate the low percent of students using smartphones, it was meant to convey the dramatic increase that I myself had observed amongst the students I teach.
Wanting to know more about this startling growth I read Project Tommorow’s most recent report. Published in 2010, the report stated that “Smart phone access for middle and high school students jumped 42 percent from 2009 to 2010.” As of 2010, “44 percent of high school students in Title 1 schools as well as in rural or urban schools say that they now have a smart phone; same percentage for students in suburban, non-Title 1 schools.”
This report is not a condemnation of educational technologies like Socrative, it is a celebration of their viability. These statistics support the tremendous revolution I’ve witnessed in my classroom. Furthermore, they recognize that technology is highly valued by students and families who are rarely recognized and celebrated as tech. loving early adopters.
Today’s lesson is simple: we need to be careful with statistics, especially when our interpretations directly impact the very tools that my students and I need to continue defying the statistics that stand between them and success.
Reports referenced above can be viewed using the links below.