Perhaps without even knowing it, this seems to be the riddle many of our communities and schools are writing for our young people. Just how many communication streams, technologies, websites, platforms, etc. can we ask our youth to check on a daily basis just to know what’s what?
(To be clear, part of what is driving this is the rise of social media and the death of email use by young people, even as it remains the communications staple for much of the adult world. Only 6% of students check email daily and 39% never check it at all.)
One student I talked with recently actually added up his logins for me: he had 8 just to manage his school, social, and extracurricular activities. He told me he checked two daily and 3-5 on a weekly basis. Two of them were his chosen social media channels; one was an email account (used only by his school), and one was a class-specific platform. Another login specifically to check his grades was also in circulation. The rest were largely ignored to the point where he laughed about how many times he had had to reset has passwords because he so rarely logged in.
During our beta period, we worked with two-dozen local high school students as school ambassadors to help us listen, learn, and improve Zeumo for education. They helped us connect with teachers and other students to better understand what technologies were being used and what was actually working or not based on their experience. What we found were two primary sets of technology systems:
Regarding the institution-serving technologies, students have often heard of but have little-to-no engagement with them. (Teachers all know about them.) SMS’s, LMS’s, ISS’s simply aren’t built for students (and most teachers say not for them either!). Even those that might claim a student interface or “portal” clearly ignore the user experience, or just really don’t understand youth. (For the record, even the best student isn’t going to log in and navigate 6 clicks only to land on what is essentially a spreadsheet more than once.)
For the classroom, there are actually some really interesting products out there. But, if we choose to consider the student, I believe classroom management technologies suffer from two main problems:
Please ignore the finer points of my math here and follow my logic: A student spends 20% of his waking hours in school and has roughly five academic courses core to his education. So, each class makes up roughly 4% of the student’s time (to make for easy math, this is being extraordinarily generous, and assumes a student is focused solely on his core academics during that 20% of school time).
So, what login do you use, or are you at least asked or “required” to use, on a daily basis that is solely relevant to less than 4% of your life?
What if you had to keep a different phone or a different calendar for each individual client you had, or an entirely different email account for each person who supervised you, or who you supervised? What if your organization had a different website for each product you offer even when the products serve the same customer base? (If you do, we may have just identified a problem.)
And yet, this is the kind of technology noise we are inadvertently creating for students.
What if we could provide a single login and password where a student could safely aggregate multiple communications channels from their school and community (and not have to be connected with “old people” in their social media space)? What if schools could communicate with students on a platform they actually want to use (i.e. not PA systems or emails)? What if community organizations didn’t have to compete with Twitter and Facebook noise hoping their youth see important posts?
The Gallup Student Poll shows that only 44% of high school students are engaged, or you might say “logged in” to school.
So I wonder: How much more would a student log in, if a student had just one login?