Schoolhouse tech: Even bigger for Gen Z than for millennials

When it comes to tech in the classroom, teachers and students are on board, says a study.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
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Erin Carson
3 min read

Devices like tablets are becoming common sights in classrooms.

B.Fanton, UIG via Getty Images

Pens and notebooks, you may be on the way out as the main tools of classroom learning. At least according to one study, technology is catching on in a big way.

New survey data out Thursday from online-learning site Quizlet shows that teachers and students have a largely positive view of tech in the classroom.

In November 2016, Quizlet surveyed 12,525 students and 10,800 teachers in the US and found that 69 percent of students say devices help them learn and 66 percent said apps help them learn. And when comparing Generation Z (those born after 2000) to millennials, the newer batch of students are 28 percent more likely to feel that tech helps them learn more quickly than the old familiar tools like worksheets and lectures.

On the whole, teachers came across as more enthusiastic -- they're 32 percent more likely than students to say learning tech is a good use of classroom time. They also think it's more fun for students. Eighty-three percent of teachers surveyed by Quizlet think devices make learning more fun, compared with 63 percent of students.

Quizlet doesn't see any drop-off ahead.

"The availability of high-speed internet combined with the proliferation of smartphones and inexpensive devices like Chromebooks has made technology ubiquitous in the classroom," said Quizlet CEO Matthew Glotzbach.

The survey looked at apps like Newsela, Khan Academy and Socrative, as well as hardware like personal computers and tablets -- think Chromebooks and iPads.

Technology in the classroom has become a hot issue as educators try to find a way to not only teach kids digital literacy but also get them interested in the field of computer science. In January 2016, President Barack Obama pledged $4 billion to fund computer science in schools. Meanwhile, the White House estimates only a quarter of K-12 schools in the US cover computer science.

Computer science aside, a March report from FutureSource Consulting said shipments of personal computers in the educational sector, from kindergarten through high school, rose 12 percent globally from 2014 to 2015. Google has been a beneficiary: Chromebooks alone accounted for about 50 percent of device sales in the education market through 2015, that same report said. In November, Google announced it would bring Google Expeditions, its virtual-reality field trip project, to 1 million students in the UK next year.

The long-term effects of tech in the classroom have yet to be seen. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in September 2015 that though students who used computers at school did moderately better in testing, students who used computers frequently at school actually did worse.

"The results also show no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science" in countries that heavily invested in information and communication technology for education, the OECD report said.

In any case, technology has become a daily fact of life for many people, students and teachers included. That familiarity has ripple effects.

"The more comfortable you are with technology, the more positive you're going to be about it," Glotzbach said.