The Brand in the Classroom



By 12/10/2010

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An interesting survey by Harris Interactive came out this month, one that may have quirky implications for teachers, particularly at the secondary level.  (Press release here).  It’s called the Youth EquiTrends Study, a poll of 5,077 8-24  year olds administered last August.  They drew their sample of 13-24 year olds by online means, 8-12 year-olds through the parents.

The researchers aimed to identify “brand equity” among the young, that is, a brand’s overall strength as judged ”by a calculation of Familiarity, Quality, and Purchase Consideration.”  Respondents were asked to rate between 98 and 125 popular brands of goods, relaying how well they know them, how high is their quality, and would they buy them.

For 8-12 year olds, the findings aren’t surprising.  It’s all entertainment and junk food:

1. Nintendo Wii
2. Doritos
3. Oreo’s
4. M&Ms
5. Disney Channel
6. Nickelodeon
7. Nintendo DS
8. McDonald’s
9. Toys R Us
10. Cartoon Network

    Lots of screen time here, all for play and diversion.  At least Nintendo gets them off the couch and burns some of those Oreo’s calories.

    For the next age group, 13-17 year olds, a different screen time emerges, along with a drop in junk food (although one of them still tops the list).

    1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
    2. iPod
    3. Google
    4. M&Ms
    5. Oreo’s
    6. Subway
    7. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
    8. Target
    9. Sprite
    10. Microsoft

      Note the appearance of Google at Number 3.  It isn’t something you buy or eat or watch, really.  It’s not a show or a TV channel, and you don’t shop for it in a store.  It’s something you do.

      Most importantly for teachers, Google is a central learning resource in and out of the classroom.  For their homework, especially research assignments, students go to Google their as a first resort.  Is this the first time ever that young people have given brand loyalty to a tool so much a part of their schoolwork?

      The significance grows in the next age group, 18-24 year olds, where Google rises to Number 1 and is followed by another tool often used by teachers for instructional purposes.

      1. Google
      2. Facebook
      3. iPod
      4. Gatorade
      5. Target
      6. Subway
      7. Apple
      8. iTunes
      9. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
      10.Oreo’s

        Once again, as far as I know, no other brand has ever proven so popular in both work and play, or adjusts so smoothly from school hours to leisure hours and back again.

        This is an advantage in that teachers can coax students to conduct inquiries using a tool that they already love, as opposed to those clunky old World Book Encyclopedias in the library.  But it is a disadvantage in that Google in the classroom (and Facebook, too, for those teachers who implement them) carries with it a set of habits and expectations that students have built around them in out-of-school hours.

        When students consulted library books and resources to complete their homework, diversions stopped.  They couldn’t use the books to communicate with buddies or download music.  The books were for one thing–learning.  Work and play didn’t meld.

        Now they do.  This is worse than the old problem of students doing homework with the television on, books open and papers spread out while Friends unfolds across the room.  The older way is a form of multi-tasking, yes, an ineffectual one.  The newer one, though, is multi-tasking of a different kind.  With the laptop and Google, Facebook, etc., in action, multi-tasking of work and play takes place with the same instrument.

        The new challenge, then, is this: with Google so popular and trusted and beloved, can teachers reduce the idle and distracting behaviors of the service and increase the intellectual behaviors of it?

        - Mark Bauerlein




        Comment on this article
      1. Janet says:

        Great food for thought on branding. Teachers, as long as they come to terms with their own fears about technology, can certainly leverage the brand of Google. It has been a struggle for the last decade or so to teach students to find reliable sources on the internet. The next struggle is how to create structured environment for students to research in this non-linear world.

        Perhaps, just perhaps, we the teachers, need to adjust to this seemingly ADHD instant gratification world of Google, updating our practices.

      2. [...] The pervasiveness of brands in culture can be seen in all countries and with all age groups. a survey of school children and college students from a couple of years ago describes top brand recognition. Though this article describes that teachers should take advantage [...]

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