Read the GoGuardian Report here.
In short a huge amount of Chromebook use is being spent on educationally questionable video games, low level assessments, and YouTube with the two highest trending websites for over 5,000,000 learners (after G Suite for Education) being CoolMath Games and Renaissance Learning, the parent company to Accelerated Reader and other assessments.
Let me say it again. The two highest trending websites (after G Suite for Education) for over 5,000,000 learners are
CoolMath Games and
Renaissance Learning, the parent company to Accelerated Reader and other assessments!
Have you ever really visited CoolMath-Games.com? Maybe I am missing something but I struggle to see how most of these games are even math-related, let alone going to build skills? Yes, there is a ton of strategy and logic involved and kids dig the site because they're always asking if they can use it in STEM. Sorry guys, we have a lot more engaging ways to build both math, strategy, and logic.
But...but...it's got Math in the name so it has to be educational, right? I think that alone is a big reason why teachers allow it to get so much traffic...and that kids are quiet for long periods of time while playing on it. Sure, there are worse things they could be accessing, but when this site dominates the study it shows us that the current state of Chromebooks in the classroom is really stuck at the lowest common denominator.
Now, I am not as hugely opposed to Accelerated Reader (Renaissance Learning) as some in the educational technology community are. In the right doses as a SUPPLEMENT to a reading program and used only when students are free to choose their own books I have no problem with it. However when it shows up as the second most trending site in terms of hits and time spent on it, then that shows that far too many schools are making it the core of their reading programs. That could be a whole series of future blog posts. There are other assessments like Star Reading and Star Math that are likely contributing to this number. It would be interesting for GoGuardian to share out that breakdown. Still it's a gut punch to see activities like these taking up such a chunk of how kids are using technology in the classroom.
Okay, first rant over! The study overall is quite interesting and definitely does a thorough job at dissecting where students are spending their time online with Chromebooks. The 2017 Benchmark Report: An analysis of emerging trends in Chromebook usage looks at what sites are being used most by students in three age brackets as well as what sites are most used by subject area. According to the report, "(The report) gives you an inside look into student device usage to inform best practices and provide a benchmark for your school’s technology programs. The Benchmark Report analyzes the aggregate device usage of 5 million K-12 students across the country."
GSuite for Education is by far the most utilized set of sites by Chromebook users and GoGuardian sets it aside from other non-Google sites, breaking down how the different parts rank. With 62.1% stated as Google Docs, it's my assumption that includes Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings. I would like to see the percentage that each of those is used but the cynic me thinks it is highly likely that a huge chunk of that 62.1% is typing term papers like it's 1985...albeit using a really tricked-out Smith Corona. I do not mean to poo poo the use of Google Docs one bit though. This shows that all of the great aspects like sharing of docs and access anywhere are being used in great doses. Just over a year ago, I chronicled many of the advantages that the free suite offers. It's also important to remember we don't need to live in the "redefinition" realm of the SAMR framework and that technology should support sound pedagogy and Google Docs really can do that.
What surprises me and frankly saddens me a little bit too is that so few of these students' teachers (8%) are using Classroom to manage their Chromebook environments and that Google Drive is only accessed 2.5% of the time.
|GoGuardian breaks down how Google's GSuite apps are being utilized in the classroom by 5,000,000 US K-12 users.|
Now we get to Rant #2. YouTube grabs almost 21% usage in the Google category. Yes, there are endless numbers of videos that can teach you just about anything. When we cut access to YouTube this Fall at one of my elementary schools due to students being off-task with it, we found out how much we rely on it for independent learning and quickly opened it back up (filtered of course). Still I would love to see a breakdown of the actual types of YouTube videos being watched by students on their Chromebooks. My heart really wants a disproportionate number to be educational but my head leads me to believe that kitty cats, dumb web series, and music videos are probably leading the pack.
To be fair this study is not all doom, gloom, time wasters, and drill and kill. Both Scratch and Code.org popped up numerous times with Scratch garnering a #5 trending overall ranking. It's good to see these computer science sites getting lots of use by Chromebook users. Teachers are also doing their best to gamify a lot of learning as Kahoot came in at the top of a number of categories. Another favorite site of mine that places highly is the set of science simulations from PHET at the University of Colorado. Also, the study opened my eyes to several new sites I hadn't previously visited so definitely spend some time going through the lists.
What bugs me the most (Rant #3): For 23 years I have been evangelizing the use of edtech tools that foster student creativity and I have recently been preoccupied with a suspicion that because fewer and fewer schools are buying Macs for students that ground is likely being lost in the battle to promote high level uses of classroom technology. When I opened GoGuardian's email with the study all of those fears were validated. I was saddened but not really surprised. Zero sites for creativity are listed in the study. We know fewer kids are getting to create with Keynote, iMovie, and GarageBand due to device choice, but it doesn't look like they're getting many chances to use any of the Chrome-based alternatives to these apps either.
No Soundtrap. No Canva. No WeVideo. No Pixlr. No Emaze.
Creativity is so important and being able to convey a concept in multimedia is a skill all industries are demanding now. A local school board president was asking me about what's next in edtech and the discussion led to content creation. He holds a high-up position with a multi-national company that creates automobile interiors and he agreed.
"Everything, no matter the concept now has to be pitched in a highly visual and easy to understand way. Just using PowerPoint basic slides won't cut it anymore," he shared.
We need to be fostering those skills now.
|At least there's Scratch which provides tremendous opportunities for students to develop creativity while building computer science skills. For me its popularity is the brightest spot in this study.|
We can and must do better.