Fast Changing Web Trends – Student Snapshots

Besides being a teacher of High School Mathematics and History (I only know of one other teacher in the country who also has this combination) I have also just started my second year of teaching Web Design & Development to Year 12 (16-17 year olds), a course that I developed last year.

On the first day of the course the students are asked to complete an online survey – a Google Form of course. The final question in the survey asks the students to “List 10 words which come to mind when the word Internet is mentioned”. This is an individual task where students cannot consult other students. I then display their results by copying/pasting their answers to Wordle to form a Word Cloud, in which the words that are entered multiple times display larger than others.

This exercise in itself creates good discussion among students, however this is the first year that I have been able to compare the results to the previous year. The results (below) created great discussion and highlighted to students how quickly new tools are adopted and sometimes at the expense of others.

Snapshot taken beginning February 2009 (26 students):

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Snapshot taken beginning February 2010 (54 students – 2 classes):

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Most telling Trends (for teenagers)

  1. Facebook was a small player a year ago (smaller than bebo) but now is the most dominant (with bebo dropping)
  2. Using the web to access Information is not as strong
  3. YouTube whose 5th birthday is this week has grown further
  4. Email has emerged more strongly – possibly because of the trend towards webmail and away from PC based software such as Outlook
  5. Music has dropped significantly – can anyone suggest why this might be??
  6. Porn (top right in 2009) fails to get a mention in 2010 – I don’t know what to make of that
  7. Explorer (Internet Explorer) doesn’t rate a mention this year – probably because we rolled out Firefox 3 days earlier
  8. Google is still the dominant player for internet searching, well at least in New Zealand anyway

I know that this was hardly a scientific survey, but it did stimulate some interesting discussion.

Google Forms (survey tool in Google Docs) and Wordle (word clouds) are a powerful combination of tools that could be used effectively across a range of subjects in a variety of ways. If anyone would like to contribute their experiences or ideas then do feel free to reply to this post.


DorothyFebruary 20th, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Very interested in your survey – great way to display results BTW. May be non-scientific but confirmed my feeling with high school kids that the Bebo fixtion in NZ is being replaced by Facebook.

I can point you to the third teacher in NZ with your job combo. In order to get a job my daughter has had to start out in 3 departments, including your ones. Pretty hard on a BT I must say. Perhaps you should start a group….

GerardFebruary 20th, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Do you have a copy of the survey that I can use?

Mark CallagherFebruary 21st, 2010 at 8:33 am

Hi Gerard,
This link is to a copy of my questionnaire:

They are very easy to create in Google Docs – Just go to File –> New –> Form

If you want a copy to edit email me with your Gmail address and I will share it to you so you can take your own copy.

GerardFebruary 21st, 2010 at 5:35 pm

taskmaker [at]

GerardFebruary 22nd, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Just did the exercise with one of my year 9 classes,

Thought you might like your year 9 students to compare, 18 students in my class at a south auckland school.

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