Student Perspectives on Digital Natives & Technology in Schools

Yesterday was the last #Edchat of the year and it definitely ranked as one of my favorites. During the 12pm EST/ 5pm GMT #Edchat, we discussed:

Is the idea of digital native really a myth? Do most kids today already have the skills and knowledge to master technology for learning?

We were fortunate to have students join this conversation. I would like to thank Tinashe Blanchet (@Mrsblanchetnet) and Angel Gelle Dozier (@Gellesastar) for having their students join the conversation. This was a unique opportunity to get the student perspective on the idea of the Digital Native Theory and some of their responses were quite surprising. I hope they will join us again for another #Edchat because discussions about education need to have varied perspectives from the various educational stakeholders involved.

What Do the Students Think?

As a moderator I took the opportunity of interviewing the students during the discussion to get their ideas on the use of technology in schools. These were some of the insights from the conversation:

  • The 6th graders seemed more excited about using Facebook and cellphones for learning
  • The high school students seemed to believe that these tools would be abused
  • Both groups confirmed that their parents for the most part were unhappy about the impact of technology in their lives

These insights suggest we need to educate both parents and students in the use of technology in schools. Gellesastar‘s 6th graders suggested we involve parents by having online PTA meetings so that the parents see how effective technology can be. I think teachers can be very proactive about getting parents and students to understand the benefits of using certain technologies for learning by holding parent workshops that demonstrate what technologies will be used and how, blogging about student projects, publishing student work, creating video tutorials that show parents how to use the technologies, and being transparent about how they use technology to help students learn.

Here are the responses from the high school students and 6th graders:

Students on Edchat 1Students on Edchat 2

@Gellesastar‘s 6th graders were so excited about the idea of learning through Facebook and cellphones they stood up and applauded in the classroom! They were even motivated to add more responses in a Google Doc. Here is the screenshot of that Google Doc:

6th grade responses


Ask your students the same questions. How do they feel about using cellphones or Facebook for learning? Do they believe they are digital natives?

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What are your thoughts about the students’ comments?

Screenshots taken from the collected conversations aggregated by!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


  1. Hi Shelly, thanks for this great summary of the chat. I find the students opinions really interesting to read, and as you say, it’s wonderful to hear their voices in this. I can definitely see myself referring to these quotes in an upcoming article on digital youth which I’m preparing. Thank you so much for sharing this here!

    • Nicky,

      Looking forward to reading your article! I find the students’ opinions really interesting as well! I’m really enjoyed the great reflections of the 6th graders. They seemed to have a very mature outlook.

    • Harry,

      Thanks so much for sharing these views! I think the students’ perspectives are quite interesting! I love that both groups highlight the importance of learning with technology but the technology is only a vehicle for the learning.

      • I meant to say instructional technology coordinators. We are working really hard to make sure instruction is the first word of the title. Many of our school in Arkansas are finally at the point were they are having to change the role of the tech coordinator or create a position. No more just fixing the hardware or working in the data closet. We still need this side of the fence too. But now infusion is so needed. Schools cannot keep saying no to web apps and mobile devices that can be used to enhance what students are learning.

        • I do believe infusion is important. However, I think right now many of my friends that are instructional technologists say they are too busy with the fixing hardware and filtering part of the job. Many of them also teach a few computer lab classes. They don’t have time to train teachers or help them with individual problems.

  2. Shelly,
    I find it refreshing that a discussion about education actually had students participating in it! I value your opinion as an educator…could you read my ebook about teaching and learning when you have time? I would love feedback from a master educator…


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