Originally posted on dailyedventures.com

My education is important to me because it’s the platform for my future endeavours, success and aspirations.Kelly Stewart, UK

If you want open and honest feedback about how our schools are doing, just ask a student. That’s exactly what we at Microsoft did recently when 15-year-old UK student Kelly Stewart participated in a week-long work experience at the Microsoft UK offices. Stewart attends the Didcot Girls’ School, a language-focused institution that is working to accelerate technology adoption. Her interviews with fellow students and teachers turned up some interesting insights, and Stewart shared these in a presentation to the Microsoft team.

“In recent months we have been striving to improve our technology use in order to give both students and teachers better opportunities – however it is very much a work in progress,” says Stewart. So how is this journey progressing, and what would the students like to see more of? Not surprisingly, students were keen on touchscreen technology, noting that interactive learning gets them more involved, makes the lessons more interesting and improves retention (vs. copying notes from a textbook). According to one of Stewart’s classmates, “Even the most stubborn learners can learn through interactive competitive games without even realizing it.”

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At the same time – here’s that brutally honest feedback again – they felt that teachers’ resistance to change is preventing students from learning how to adapt to the technology they’ll need for the future. “The reason we don’t even have newer software is because teachers can’t be bothered to learn something new, and even if we get it, they don’t learn or... don’t incorporate it into the lesson,” one student said.

In order to get a balanced view, Stewart posed the same questions to her ICT and computer science teacher. When asked about the biggest barrier in education technology, he confirmed that making teachers feel comfortable using the technology – and making them understand the benefits – continues to be a challenge. He noted that teachers must learn how to be more trusting with putting technology in the students’ hands as they are more likely to know more or pick up things more quickly. For example, giving them opportunities to use new technology to present work or set a task and let them decide what tools they will use.

Stewart’s teacher also highlighted simple technology tools that facilitate the teaching/learning process, like projectors, Microsoft Office applications and flipped learning. He also noted that “ICT for learning... is more powerful in the hands of the learners, as it allows them to do projects in creative ways that other resources wouldn’t be able to provide.”

In today’s Daily Edventure, we learn more about this ambitious student, and gain some helpful insights about how students perceive the progress of technology in their school. Enjoy!

Check out the video here.

What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?

My education is important to me because it’s the platform for my future endeavours, success and aspirations.

Can you tell us about a favourite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?

Miss King (my math teacher at my current school). She has helped me to achieve my potential!

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

Once I had to create a radio station, so I used my phone to record the script, then transferred the audio file on to Movie Maker, then created a radio station logo (still image) as the backdrop while presenting it to the class.

In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?

Interactive learning – putting the power of the technology in the hands of the students. For example, allowing the students to choose which technology they use for various projects.

Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?

While I think all are important, creativity and innovation are the seeds of an idea that can grow into something so much bigger.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

Just simple access to the Internet. In so many parts of the world this actually isn’t possible, and I feel we take it for granted.

What is your country doing well currently to support education?

The UK is a developed country with access to technology for the majority. There has recently been prioritization of computer programming in schools, and this I feel is very important for the future.

How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?

A key thing is to improve the teaching/learning experience, recognizing the important role technology plays in delivering our education. Through this, teachers will get the confidence to use the technology within the classroom.

About Kelly Stewart, Student, Didcot Girls’ School

Oxford, UK

  • Birthplace: Oxford, UK
  • Current residence: UK
  • Education: Student at UK secondary school (9th grade)
  • Website I check every day: TheStage.co.uk
  • Person who inspires me most: Taylor Swift
  • Favourite childhood memory: Holiday in Florida when I was five.
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Italy, Sorrento
  • When was the last time you laughed? Why? My cousin Adam (who has a strong London accent) came back from a trip to America, and told us that the guy in Burger King asked if he knew Ozzy Osborne.
  • Favourite book: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Favourite music: Country music
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Don’t ever succumb to peer pressure.
  • Your favourite quote or motto: “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”

If you’re interested in participating in a conversation about student voice, go to the Hot Topics page on the Partners in Learning Network.