A select number of students from Rachel Carson Middle School were asked to participate in "Speak Up," a national survey about technology use among students earlier this month.
At the end of the day on Nov. 9, the students met and answered questions presented by Julie Evans, CEO of NetDay. NetDay is a company dedicated to connecting every child to a brighter future by helping educators meet educational goals through the effective use of technology, according to the official Web site.
Sitting at a long table in the library at Rachel Carson, 12 students answered Evans' questions about technology, 21st-century skills and learning today. Sitting in on the assembly were representatives from Cable in the Classroom, the CEO for the National Association for On-line Learning, the National Park Authority Foundation, Fairfax County Public Schools' School-based Technology Specialist, principal August Frattali and Steve Holmund, school-based technology specialist for Rachel Carson.
DURING THE SURVEY students discussed the amount of time they spend on the computer. The majority of the students surveyed use the computer or other forms of technology — cell phones, DVD players, iPods, videogames — in their free time to either decompress, or stay in touch with peers. Students used technology for everything from researching information for school projects and "Googling" random information, to downloading music and talking with friends over instant messaging programs.
This is the third year Rachel Carson has participated in the NetDay survey. Locally, results from the panel help school administrators and FCPS officials determine what works with students and what areas of technology need to be advanced. Although Rachel Carson already has multiple computer labs, the students surveyed all agreed the school needed more labs, laptops and faster access to the Internet.
"Once we get the results we will discuss them among our Technology Vanguard Committee," said Holmund about the process. "Because our PTA is very supportive of techology, as they raise funds, they will ask the Vanguard Committee what is needed to better the school's technology and that determines what we buy."
Since 2002, approximately 377,000 students kindergarten through 12th grade have been surveyed across the country. This information has been used to inform national, state and local policy-makers about ways to enhance technology and learning in the classroom. Information gathered from students is available on-line for participating schools to review the results from the students and teachers surveyed. Schools can use this information to better the use of technology in their individual schools, or across the school system. For more information, visit www.NetDay.org.