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Report Shows U.S. Schools Can't Meet Technology Demands of Teachers, Students

Few people will be surprised to learn of research that shows K-12 institutions throughout the United States have become heavily dependent on technology, and that this dependency continues to increase with each passing year. What may surprise even the most jaded among us, however, is that, given that many view this a "good" dependency with a wealth of immediate and long-term benefits for teachers, students, and staff, we're doing an inadequate job of feeding the habit.

At the FETC 2011 show in Orlando, FL, PBS and research firm Grunwald Associates released a national research report on digital media usage among educators entitled "Deepening Commitment: Teachers Increasingly Rely on Media and Technology." The report is based on a survey conducted in August 2010 of 1,401 preK-12 teachers from various regions and demographics throughout the United States. Its primary conclusions are:

  • Teachers are, owing to both interest and circumstance, increasing their use and knowledge of technology in the classroom; and
  • U.S. schools provide an insufficient capacity of computing devices and technology infrastructure to support teachers' Internet-based instruction needs.

"We have witnessed student improvement when a multi-platform, media-rich curriculum is combined with professional development," said Rob Lippincott, senior vice president of education for PBS, "and are encouraged that teachers are increasingly integrating technology and digital media to increase engagement, promote creativity and differentiate instruction."

Other notable findings of the report based on the August 2010 survey of 1,401 preK-12 teachers from various regions and demographics throughout the United States:

  • 97 percent of K-12 teachers use digital media in classroom instruction. Sixty-two percent report using it frequently, and 24 percent report using it daily.
  • 46 percent of teachers surveyed cited cost as the main barrier to using fee-based digital resources, while 33 percent cited time constraints.
  • Three out of four teachers stream or download TV and video content, up from 55 percent in 2007.
  • Approximately two-thirds of survey participants indicated they believe digital resources help them differentiate learning for individual students; an equal proportion said such resources increase student motivation; 68 percent said video content stimulates discussion; 47 percent said it stimulates student creativity; and 31 percent said it is more effective than other types of instructional resources or content.
  • 48 percent of teachers found value in student-created Web sites, while 37 percent valued student submission Web sites.
  • Of the 197 pre-K teachers surveyed, 82 percent reporting use of digital content. Half of pre-K teachers indicate that fee-based content is not age-appropriate for their students.
  • 69 percent of preK teachers value digital cameras for allowing them to be more creative, while 62 percent say the devices aid them in being more effective.
  • Teachers use interactive whiteboards more than any other technology, and those without access to devices cite them as their first choice among desired technology. Educators also see strong potential for educational use in laptops, tablets, e-readers, and handhelds.

Roughly one-fourth of those surveyed reported membership in an online teacher community, citing connection, collaboration, and shared resources as key reasons to belong.

The complete report is available for download here.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.

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