Students learn in many different ways, whether they’re a visual learner preferring pictures and shapes, or an auditory learner preferring sounds and rhythms. Oftentimes, we use a mix of learning styles and techniques to process information.
Unfortunately, traditional textbooks simply can’t meet students’ diverse learning styles, since every student has unique interests, attention spans, and needs. So how do we ensure the success of every student? The key to a personalized learning experience is technology.
A recent study from Speak Up published this month explored how K-12 students are using digital tools and resources to enhance their schoolwork activities.
Key findings from this year’s report entitled The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations include:
- Girls outpace boys in use of many digital tools for learning, particularly the socially based tools like texting and collaborating online.
- 29 percent of high school boys say that they are very interested in a job or career in a STEM field, but only 19 percent of girls say the same.
- Students continue to report less regular interaction with traditional social networking sites like Facebook, while 44 percent of students in grades 6-12 report using social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Nearly one-third of high school students reported using Twitter.
- One-quarter of students in grades 3-5 and nearly one-third of students in grades 6-12 say that they are using a mobile device provided by their school to support schoolwork.
- In four years, the percent of middle school students taking tests online increased from 32 percent to 47 percent.
- High school students reported a mean average of 14 hours per week using technology for writing.
- Only one-third of middle school students say that for schoolwork reading, they prefer to read digital materials rather than printed materials; more than half, however, say online textbooks would be an essential component of their “ultimate school.”
- Digital equity, including to student access to the Internet outside of school, is a growing concern among district technology leaders with 46 percent saying it is one of the most challenging issues they face today (compared to just 19 percent in 2010).
With the right access to different kinds of educational resources that fit different learning styles, we can allow children to learn at their own pace using various learning methods that meet their individual needs. We have an opportunity to customize education for students everywhere and to provide the education they need to shape their futures.