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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Fort Thomas Teachers and Parents Speak Up About Technology

Children can build collaboration skills with digital technology. Photo: Judit Klein via Creative Commons.

Parents and teachers agree on the importance of technology skills but have different priorities when it comes to teaching digital citizenship, according to a recent survey by Project Tomorrow.

Project Tomorrow is a national nonprofit education organization that supports science, math and technology education and skills preparation. This year, Fort Thomas was one of only a handful of Kentucky school districts that piloted the organization’s Speak Up survey on digital learning.

Some 388 Fort Thomas parents and 86 teachers took the survey. District Director of Technology and Information Diana McGhee shared results of the survey at the May school board meeting. 

Some differences in priorities

"We saw that educators and parents agree on what skills we need to be sharing with our students to be successful in 21st century. But we saw there was a disconnect between parents and teachers on digital citizenship," said McGhee.

She referred to a few of the 33 questions on the survey that dealt with digital citizenship.

Respondents were asked to chose from nine statements regarding which aspects of digital citizenship were most important. While there was agreement on the importance of knowing how to use technology for learning, parents emphasized the need for safety online.

Ninety-one percent of parents selected "Knowing how to be safe online and use safeguards to protect our information and ourselves" as the top priority, while 68 percent of teachers chose that statement as a high priority.

Parents also put more emphasis on "Understanding what are appropriate digital behaviors" and on learning how to protect onself online. Teachers put the most emphasis (74 percent) on "Appreciating that everyone has digital rights as well as responsibilities to the society at large."

In another question about use of online tools, 73 percent of parents selected "too much screen time." Yet, "seeing websites with inappropriate content" also was of high concern at 72 percent.

"I think you cannot neglect that 73 percent of our parents had concerns about online use of technology," said McGhee. She said the district needs to continue working with parents and educating the community about how to keep children safe online.

Agreement on technology skills for the future

When parents were asked who should have primary responsibility for teaching digital citizenship, they chose both parents and teachers at the top of their list. Teachers were asked how comfortable they feel teaching students digital citizenship concepts. Seventy-four percent said they were somewhat or very comfortable.

Overall, parents and teachers agreed on the skills students will need in the digital age including critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creativity and written and oral communication skills as well as technology skills. These are skills the district is incorporating in its new Portrait of a Graduate.

McGhee says she hopes to make more information about the survey available and has already agreed to give the survey again next year.

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