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    Students and Teachers Agree that Digital Tools Make Schoolwork More Fun

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2006 First published in CUE BC Newsletter September 2006

    Along with computers and the Internet, students and teachers are increasingly making use of other digital tools such as digital cameras and scanners. High-quality colour printing is becoming commonplace in student work.

    Between June 29th and July 5 2006, HP and Ipsos Reid polled 709 Canadian students (age 11-17) and 848 teachers about their beliefs about the usefulness of  'digital tools'. Among the results:

    about three-quarters of both students (76%) and teachers (77%) feel that using digital tools enables students to make their schoolwork stand out.
     Nearly all (92% of students and 89% of teachers surveyed) agree that these tools “help students to gain an advantage when it comes to school work”. 83% of teachers and 73% of students stated that use of these tools “encourage students to do school work”.
    Almost the same majorities (again, 92% of students and 85% of teachers) feel that using these digital tools help students “create and deliver a higher quality of work”. Fully 98% of BC students believed that using these tools let them “hand in better quality work”.
    According to the survey, both teachers (93%) and students (87%) believe that using these tech tools allow students to have more fun while doing schoolwork, and to be more creative (90% of teachers, 91% of students), while creating more professional-looking schoolwork (87% of teachers, 93% of students).

    77% of teachers and 83% of students state that using digital tools let students 'put more time and effort into projects'. (Is this a positive belief- that digital tool users, being more creative, having more fun, and seeing more professional-looking results happily spend more time on their schoolwork or is it negative- that getting the darn things to work properly requires spending more time and effort?)

    For a large majority (71%) of students, in fact, digital tools are no longer frills-- they're necessities to get schoolwork done to an acceptable standard. (Inquiring minds might wonder: if these tools are necessary for most students to use, how do they 'set student work apart from their classmates'? It might seem that not using digital tools would set student work apart, though perhaps not in a positive light).

    While most students (77%) and teachers (83%) feel that students are “trying to find chances to use digital tools in their school work wherever possible”, for a number of students, access to these tools remains an issue. While 84% of students claim that they use digital tools in their schoolwork, 22% note that if they had more access they would always use such tools and 68% say that with more access they would often use them.

    A majority of teachers (76%) and students (68%) rate digital cameras as the most useful digital tool for schoolwork. Students and teachers rated science the subject area providing 'the best fit' for digital tools and math the area providing the worst fit.


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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at