Results of 2012 Student IT Survey – Impacts on strategic planning

The summer term at The Costello School is an important time for us to take stock and reflect on the technology and resources our students have and often bring in to school. For the past two years we have completed an annual technology survey of our students to gain important management information on device ownership and technology penetration at home. The survey consists of a number of key questions shaped around key themes; computer access, broadband, mobile technologies owned, mobile phones, social media, perceptions of technology and its use as well as perceptions on how technology is supported and used to support learning at the school.

The survey is very easy to administer, it is written as a threaded survey using a form within GoogleDocs, with the link being emailed out to all students. A focus fortnight is allocated within the school for the completion of the survey which sees all students being giving time to complete it during one of their IT lessons. This year 621 students completed the survey, representing a good spread of students across all year groups and both genders. This 60% sample is useful at making some general comments and helps to plan strategic developments at the school.

Compared to last year laptop ownership has once again increased with 52% of students owning their own laptop. Only 2% of students do not have access to a computer at home and the survey allows us to identify these students and make specific provision for them. 12% have access to a shared laptop and 22% use the family computer when they need to. Rising laptop ownership does highlight the need for digital parenting sessions as many students have free access to the Internet in their bedrooms with little understanding about the possible implications by some parents.

Software owned and accessed by students is interesting and it is clear that the continued promotion of open source alternatives in school is important to ensure that students have access to software that is used within the curriculum. 92% own WP software, spreadsheet – 74%, 80% presentation. When looking at more specialist software titles, including graphics, video and music software, about a third of students own each type. 22% of students have programming software, a statistic that surprised me as I thought it would be somewhat low than this. It will be interesting to see how this is affected by the introduction of GCSE Computing at the school in September 2012.

3% of our students do not have access to broadband, often this is accountable to the geographical location, residing in an outlying village. 46% of students were unsure of the speed of their broadband connection, reflecting their stance as an end consumer, but when speed was known 64% of the students claimed speeds in excess of 20 mbit. It is clear that teachers should be planning media rich, high quality resources for students to access from home, including video as they have the capacity to access it. This does suggest a need for some further CPD for staff to ensure that students are engaging in high quality resources over the Internet.

We continue to see an upward trend in the sheer volume of technology found in the home. 31% of students have some sort of tablet, Apple Macs still only account for 12% of desktop devices but 53% own an iTouch and 30% a iPod Nano. 72% own a digital camera, 46% own a scanner, 53% a video camera. The level of consumer technology owned by students really needs to be more closely understood by teachers as much more engaging home learning tasks can be set utilising the myriad of technology that is commonplace in the home. Digital video, podcasting are all mediums that need to be explored.

The proportion of students who own a mobile phone remains fairly consistent to last year at 97%, 56% of which are on contract and therefore have data allowances built in, indeed many students who were on Pay As You Go tariff’s also commented on the fact they had data allowances. Schools really do need to rethink their stance on access to social media from school devices when the majority of students can already access them through their own device and data channel. Is there now more of a case for schools embracing more open access to Facebook? Smartphones account for 67% of all phones with Blackberry handsets being the most popular (28%) – probably due to the popularity of blackberry messenger, Android handsets – 25% and iPhones – 12%. Texting is as popular as ever, with 39% of students sending 100-500 texts a month, 27% send more than 500 texts a month. 66% of students who have a wifi capable phone have used it to connect to the school pubic wifi. 70% of students were willing to give the school their mobile number so they could be informed of examination information and other school info. Phones and other handheld mobile devices are being used to good effect across the school to support learning, 62% of students have used them to access the web for further research to aid class work and 67% have used them to take photos, 38% to record video but only 12% to record audio and create podcasts. This will become a specific development point in 2012-13. Students are big fans of using their mobile device to access social media – Facebook 72%, Twitter 40%, YouTube 71%.

81% of the students use YouTube and Facebook, in real terms Facebook penetration is higher as Y7/8 should not be on Facebook (although many are – again further evidence for digital parenting sessions). This year Twitter use is much higher, with 40% of students using the service. Very few (3%) use other services such as Flickr or Slideshare. 49% of students use social networking sites everyday with 25% using them a few times a week. 5% of students stated that they did not necessarily feel safe when using social networking sites. As the survey is not anonymous personalised intervention for these students will be in place in September.

Students gave us some very good ideas and feedback on how to enhance our official Facebook presence for the school. It is clear that they want more time investment into this from the school as they want as much info to be aggregated into Facebook as possible so it becomes their social hub. Ideas included – daily status updates with everything that is going on, examination reminders, signposting revision and support services, even more use to showcase student successes.

Technology continues to dominate the social scene for many students with 33% spending more than 16 hours a week online using technology, a further 35% spending 12-16 hours. 94% of students enjoy using technology and see it playing an important part in society. 63% of students could make clear links between how technology could make them a more effective learner and 78% of students said they picked up on new technology/web apps very quickly giving a very clear indicator to teachers that they really need to push the envelope and develop much higher expectations of what students can do using technology. Technology is more of a barrier to many teachers now than students and this is something that effective CPD must address. Teachers do not have to be, or should not be worried about having to know how to use the latest apps and software. First and foremost they should be interested in the learning outcome, not the route by which the student has taken to get to the outcome.

A lot of careful thought and consideration has gone into the strategic planning of infrastructure and training at Costello. Staff are acutely aware of the changing societal dynamic and the role that technology plays and work hard to develop their skills accordingly. 56% of students said that we have excellent IT facilities and infrastructure at the school, backed up with effective IT Support when any issues arise. Students feel that we have more than enough desktops across the site, but may benefit from having a few more areas that have access to net books. Students would like to see more macs in place and teachers knowing more about technology to really push how they use it in the classroom. 75% of students felt that they had benefitted from using subscriptions services like GCSEPOD and IAMLearning and are keen to see the new mobile App for GCSEPOD in September. Every year we put in a question relating to a major IT project in the next year that impacts on the curriculum. Top slot this year was a digital video studio with full chroma keying facilities – 39% of students voted for this, followed by a bank or iTouch’s to go into the Learning Resource centre, preloaded with apps and revision content. In third position were graphics tablets to go on the macs in the learning resource centre to support Art. 57% of students would also like to see a more focused IT club being set up, that develops IT skills through fun and engaging projects.

So, all in all a very interesting survey again this year that has certainly given us some important key messages to hang our strategic thinking on this year.

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