66 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
So, using the data visualization tool schools can explore if student gender or Facebook status may be
related to students’ feeling of distraction in class.
Deceptively simple, the analyses of three survey variables actually encompasses a lot of data. The leftmost
column shows the data from all survey respondents. This leftmost bottom distribution shows that most
students generally reported neutral feelings towards being distracted by technology in class. Similarly,
the center of the leftmost column shows that across all of the participating IRC students, the majority of
students (60%) reported having a Facebook account while the top figure shows that an nearly even
number of boys and girls completed the survey.
The middle column shows only those students who reported “strongly disagree” to being distracted by
technology in their classes. The middle column in Figure 4 shows that the students who reported no
distractibility in class were somewhat more likely to be boys than the general surveyed population.
Similarly, those students who reported that technology was not a distraction in class had a lower
percentage of Facebook membership (48%) than the total student population.
The rightmost column in Figure 4 presents the results from only those students who reported they
“strongly agreed” that technology was a distraction in class. So, presented in this right column are those
students who were most distracted by technology in class. Again, boys report a somewhat more extreme
sentiment than girls, but what is really interesting is the Facebook variable. Of these students who
reported the greatest distractibility in class, 81% also reported having a Facebook account. Clearly, this
data suggests a relationship between students’ out-of-school technology practices and their in-school
experiences with technology.
Individual schools have further examined relationships in their data between attitudes towards
technology and the frequency of different practices across different cohorts of their teacher and student
populations. For example, are some groups of teachers or students using technology in a markedly
different way than the rest of the school? Such data can provide school leadership with empirical evidence
of their program’s success. In other cases, the data provides greater information and insight providing
leadership the opportunity to fine-tune professional development, infrastructure, and other resources.
It has been suggested that educational technology programs can function like a Trojan horse ushering in
more constructivist pedagogies and student-centric practices into the classroom. Similarly, the IRC seeks
to develop relationships with partner schools to demonstrate how data can be systematically collected
and used to inform and support school leadership, teachers, and the entire school community. This is by
no means a short-term goal and we recognize the many challenges, and obstacles in implementing any
major school reform or improvement effort. Although the technology use and attitudinal data we collect
here provides valuable information for each school working to sustain and evolve their educational
technology programs, the long-term value of the IRC is in helping schools evolve their culture and capacity
to take advantage of the data that is becoming increasingly available (Wurman, 1997).
Thus, the examples presented here can be looked upon as signposts in the long journey of evolving
teaching and learning. This Spring 2013 IRC data is noteworthy in that it provides partner schools their
most ambitious opportunity to document and explore such a wide range of student and teacher practices
and beliefs across their entire school community. Moreover, this inaugural data provided most schools