15 Things Intensive Remote Teaching Has Taught Me About Kids and Tech

person writing on a tablet
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com


  1. Strangely, Wi-Fi connections don’t fail when students are gaming – only when they’re working on their online schoolwork. It really is the weirdest thing.
  2. Kids really don’t cheat as much as they could. Sometimes I wish I could show them how.
  3. During face-to-face teaching, kids enjoy well-structured collaborative learning. Online it’s every student for themselves.
  4. Design matters. Most platforms publish the latest posts at the end of the post stream – latest is last. But kids are used to social media platforms where the latest posts are first. The adjustment is often too big for them to handle.
  5. Design still matters: Keeping app interfaces crisp and clean and uncluttered is cool. But for kids, hidden functions and menu items are like deep educational innovations during the time of COVID-19: they simply don’t exist. Even when a message clearly says “See more”, or uses an arrow or a menu overflow icon (the kebab or the burger), if it isn’t clearly labeled on the main screen, for them, it isn’t there.
  6. Kids are most definitely most assuredly most certainly not digital natives. They’re as afraid of tech as their teachers are. (Actually, I already know that there isn’t any such thing as ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’, but the thought belongs here.)
  7. Strangely, so many kids don’t know what to do about that squiggly red line underneath some of their words. Some seem to think it’s a sign of approval and aim for as many as they can get.
  8. No software is so intuitive that students can’t find a way to make it not work.
  9. Kids are far more afraid to tinker with tech and try to make it work than I thought. Was it just my generation who learned to conquer tech by playing around with the VCR timer to record mom’s shows?
  10. Even though it’s been with them for their whole lives it’s amazing how few kids can use Google effectively.
  11. Kids really don’t understand how to avoid plagiarism. And it’s our fault because we tell them to put it in their own words. We should be telling them to put it in their own thoughts.
  12. It’s amazing how kids are realizing how important it is to plan and manage their time. Like we’ve been saying all along.
  13. Learned helplessness is a very real issue with kids and tech. As it is with adults.
  14. Kids are funny. If they can find a way to get up to mischief online, they will. Like muting their teachers during online meetings – or submitting corrupted text files to get assessment extensions. I wish we could steer this instinct for naughtiness more effectively.
  15. Most kids are resilient, and they adapt, and they get it done. Because they’re awesome.



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