Teenagers connected to digital environments – what happens when they get to school? Commonalities, similarities and differences from their perspective

Published: 
2019

Source: Education and Information Technologies

 

In light of the many major changes in teenagers’ lives of due to digital applications and the significant role they play in their lives, and since school is a place where they spend many hours, this study examined their perspective of how the digital environment is integrated into their school life. Participating in this mixed-method study were 233 Israeli teenagers who completed a questionnaire and of whom 45 were interviewed.

Findings show that what they have in common is extensive use of their smartphones and computers for study-related matters, they use many apps and social networks and belong to a variety of study-related groups. Similarities are that they have learned to need information and to obtain relevant information to solve problems or satisfy their curiosity. Differences lie in their comparison of the digital environments of their smartphone and home computer and those used in school, and to some participants the school environment seems outdated, slow, and scholastically and technologically unchallenging.

Method

This is a mixed-method study in which 45 teenagers were interviewed out of a larger number of subjects who completed questionnaires. The data were collected during 2017 and 2018.

Sample

Participants were 233 teenagers, 118 of whom were aged 13–15 and 115 were aged 16–18. There were 108 boys and 125 girls attending four different high schools in different regions in Israel.

Conclusion

For teenagers the digital environments at home and at school have the following commonalities, similarities and differences. What they have in common is the extensive use of the smartphone and computer for their studies; they use many different applications and social networks and belong to several study-related groups. What is similar is their need to find relevant information to solve a problem or to satisfy their curiosity or needs and that they feel they have high levels of computer skills. What is different is that when speaking about the digital environments they use in their daily lives, they were enthusiastic, saying that they were very helpful and that there are challenging applications. But this was not the case when they spoke about the use of digital environments in formal lessons. They compared the digital computer/ smartphone environment at home with that at school and for some of them the school environment is outdated, slow and technologically unchallenging.

This study reveals that young people want to include the smartphone and innovative digital learning environments n their school activities. They feel that doing so might lead to a positive change in their learning environment, which they would like to be challenging both in terms of content and in terms of technology.

 

Updated: Dec. 12, 2019
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