E-Learning Software Tops Educator Shopping List

When it comes to choosing what technology will be added to schools, e-learning and classroom management top the list. While half of schools already use e-learning software and online homework portals, another 29 percent expect to add or update that in their classroom arsenals. The story is similar for classroom management software. Half of classrooms have it; and 19 percent expect to get it or upgrade what's in place.

Game-based learning and mobile apps for learning have found homes in four of 10 classrooms, with another three in 10 predicting that they'll be bolstering mobile app usage for learning and two in 10 intending to build up the use of gaming in their classrooms.

CompTIA's recent report, "The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology," examines these and other results from a survey conducted in September among 400 educators and administrators in K-12 settings.

According to the survey's findings, the larger the school, the greater the adoption. For example, the report stated that among schools with more than 1,000 students, 58 percent currently use classroom management software; that count is only 45 percent in schools with fewer than 499 students. The use of social media for learning or communication is also more prevalent at larger schools: 52 percent of schools with more than 1,000 students reported that they use some form of social media; only a third of schools with 500-999 students said the same.

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and flipped classrooms are also more common in larger schools. Overall, however, only 23 percent of schools reported using flipped classes; and only 17 percent said they are trying MOOCs.

While most schools (57 percent) don't say they use social media, among those that do, Facebook predominates, particularly for community outreach, parent communication and to create online communities for students.

Influence over tech-related decisions resides not with teachers but with administrators (the principal and vice principal), the school board and the IT organization. According to the report, most middle and high school teachers said they are "moderately influential" in the process. Parents have "very little influence."

The report offers advice to education technology companies selling into schools regarding how to formulate a "more successful sales approach." Therefore, school technology influencers may expect a bigger focus on how products "more easily track students' academic progress electronically with software that allows for data collection that can be analyzed over time." That's a capability that's on the shopping list for 60 percent of K‐12 teachers, according to survey responses.

Two other topics that may surface in those sales conversations: enabling teachers to collaborate on documents with each other, parents and other school systems; and e-learning functionality for "fostering closer student contact." Those features were cited as attractive benefits by 56 percent and 52 percent of respondents, respectively, especially among those working in larger schools.

"These tools facilitate online homework, accommodate students out for extended sick periods and make online collaboration between students and teachers easier," said Carolyn April, CompTIA's senior director of industry analysis. "In many ways the education process is mirroring the way corporate America functions: remote access capabilities, teacher and student mobility and a 24/7 availability environment."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.