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Report: Teachers Crave Digital Education Resources as Digital Learning Day Ramps Up
- By Dian Schaffhauser
The benefits of technology for education aren't just hype--at least not according to the teachers using it. Roughly three of four teachers say that technology lets them reinforce and expand on content, motivate students to learn, and address differences in learning styles. Sixty-nine percent of instructors believe that educational technology allows them to "do much more than ever before" for students.
Those are some of the results that surfaced in a national survey of pre-K-12 teachers sponsored by PBS LearningMedia, a Web site that provides free access to classroom-ready digital resources, including videos, games, audio clips, photos, and lesson plans. Two-thirds of respondents would like to see more technology for their classrooms, the research found, and in low-income schools the ratio was even higher, at 75 percent.
What technology is in use? Nine in 10 teachers have at least one computer in the classroom, and six in 10 have access to an interactive whiteboard. Tablet and e-reader access is up, from 20 percent of classrooms a year ago to 35 percent currently. Forty-five percent of respondents reported that they're using classroom technology to provide access to Web-based educational games or activities; a slightly smaller number use online video, images, and articles. Two-thirds of teachers said that technology allows them to demonstrate something they can't otherwise show.
"Technology is a critical part of learning and teaching in today's classrooms," commented Alicia Levi, PBS Education. "Teachers today need access to high-quality digital content to keep pace with schools' investment in interactive whiteboards, tablets, and other devices to maximize the educational benefits of technology in classrooms."
The survey compiled responses from 503 Web-based interviews with pre-K-12 teachers based in the United States, conducted in January 2013 by research firm VeraQuest. The results have a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
These research results come on the cusp of the second annual Digital Learning Day, which takes place on February 6, 2013 and offers a number of events intended to "make the case for the effective use of technology in education." Hosted by advocacy group Alliance for Excellent Education, the event features online and in-person events around the country, including a webcast of a "digital town hall" from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) that will feature teachers and school leaders sharing how they made the transition to digital learning in their schools. Besides listening in, online attendees will be able to participate in polling and chats.
Forty states and hundreds of local education agencies have announced their own Digital Learning Day events, from Ranson Middle School in North Carolina, which will be giving tours of its digital learning classroom activities to parents; to Pikesville High School in Baltimore, which will be hosting a "Don't Worry...Be 'Appy' Party" to allow the school community to share, learn, and explore mobile device apps; from the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, which is encouraging teachers and students to produce and share two-minute videos about their school experiences, to Florida Virtual School, which is hosting a STEM modeling competition.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.