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Survey Reveals Ed Tech Is Progressing, if Slowly

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has released the results of its third annual national education technology survey, and the major findings indicate that American primary and secondary schools and colleges are definitely showing progress in ed tech implementation, but that the pace of that progress is slow and grudging.

In 2008, the SIIA established Vision K-20, its own template for institutional progress in United States schools in five primary areas of technology, including ease of access, availability of 21st-century tools, differentiated learning, assessment tools, and enterprise support. That same year, the group initiated its annual ed tech survey to track how well the aggregated nationwide education community was progressing towards the Vision K-20 goals in the aforementioned areas.

The methodology of the survey is a questionnaire consisting of 20 self-assessment items gauging each institution's strength in each of the areas of technology, as well as seven overall goals for Vision K-20:

  1. Meet the needs of all students;
  2. Support accountability and inform instruction;
  3. Deepen learning and motivate students;
  4. Facilitate communication, connectivity, and collaboration;
  5. Manage the education enterprise effectively and economically;
  6. Enable students to learn from any location at any time;
  7. Nurture creativity and self-expression.

Each question has answers covering four levels of strength. If a respondent chooses the highest level, the question is scored at 100 percent; for each lower level, the score is deducted by 25 points, with a minimum score of 25 percent.

According to the 2010 findings, overall progress has improved over 2009 in four of the five areas measured. However, the average increase in scores tracking that progress was less than 1 percent. In other words, based on the questions the survey poses to educators and technology administrators about their respective institutions' advancements in tech knowledge and accessibility, the education community is moving toward the goals of Vision K-20 at a very slow pace.

"America's students are moving ever more quickly to 21st century technologies, but education leaders and institutions are not responding with the educational framework needed to keep pace with either the opportunity or the needs," advised Karen Billings, vice president of SIIA's Education Division.

Not surprisingly, the survey indicated that a paucity of financial resources has adversely impacted technology growth. "This year has been even more challenging for education, given the economic downturn and decreased budgets.  With scarce resources, it becomes even more critical for institutions to use technology to more efficiently achieve their educational goals and outcomes," Billings noted.

Additional findings included:

  • Colleges and universities generally score higher in average measures of progress than K-12 schools.
  • Benchmarks with lower average scores in previous years' surveys showed greater gains in 2010.
  • Larger institutions tended to show greater progress than smaller institutions; location (urban, suburban, rural) did not prove to be a significant factor.
  • The benchmarks with the highest levels of overall achievement, as opposed to improvement over previous years, were: security tools to protect student data and privacy and high-speed broadband access for educational, administrative, and communication needs. Both benchmarks had an overall score of 84 percent.

The full report of the survey's findings is available 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.