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Survey Finds Strong Support for Educational Technology
Most educational leaders around the world support technology in education and believe it is increasingly transforming teaching and learning, according to an international survey commissioned by Cisco and conducted by Washington, DC-based Clarus Research Group. The survey revealed that education is transitioning to the new "connected learning" networked economy, which requires technological skills development for increased global competitiveness in education.
Clarus conducted telephone interviews with 500 educational administrators and information technology decision-makers in 14 countries across five continents. Half of the respondents were from K-12 schools, and the other half were from colleges and universities.
The majority of people surveyed indicated they see potential for technology to improve student employment prospects, distance education opportunities, student engagement, communication and collaboration, and research capabilities. Most also said they see technology as a way to reduce costs. However, online security rates high on the list of concerns.
The three teaching and learning issues affected by technology rated most critical were teamwork and project-based learning, student engagement, and preparation for the workforce.
Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated a need for programs and curriculum that help students develop teamwork skills. The survey concluded that increased availability of collaboration tools is helping to foster teamwork and project-based learning.
Eighty-five percent of respondents reported they believe technology plays an increasingly large role in student engagement and participation. They said most students seem to enjoy using technology in the classroom and also indicated technology enables teachers to tailor lessons to the needs of each student, rather than leave some students behind or pace teaching for the slowest learners. Teachers who have used computers to teach math, for example, found that the technology allowed students to progress at their own pace while also freeing the teachers to spend more time with students who needed extra help.
Eight-three percent of respondents considered educational technology critical to preparing students to compete in a global economy and ensuring their employability after graduation. Those surveyed said technology must be incorporated into the core curriculum so students will be ready to engage in the increasingly connected "workforce of tomorrow" that requires them to understand how to use technology effectively.
Other issues of importance identified in the survey included:
- Using technology to improve communications with students, parents, faculty, and staff;
- Protecting students from Internet abuse;
- Strengthening on-campus data security;
- Using "presence" technology in teacher training and staff development;
- Using technology to reduce administrative costs and improve cost-efficiency;
- Embedding video and multimedia in the learning process;
- Investing in data-driven assessments and decision-making systems; and
- Expanding online international education.
The priorities of survey respondents varied by region. Those in the Asia-Pacific region focused on improved communications with students, improved research infrastructure and capabilities, and preparing the workforce of the future. European respondents focused on funding, online security, international presence, research infrastructure and capabilities, and online international curricula. Respondents from emerging markets focused on preparation for a global economy, student attendance, and employability. Latin American respondents had the highest hopes overall for educational technology and its positive effects on society.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at email@example.com.