Teachers: We Want More Control over Ed Tech Decisions
- By Dian Schaffhauser
American teachers want much more say over what education technology comes into their classrooms. A survey conducted by a teacher marketplace and an education technology "accelerator" found that while only 38 percent of teachers currently have a role in the decision-making process of ed tech, 63 percent want to be in charge of those decisions. Right now, almost half say those choices are decided by education leaders at the school, district or regional levels.
The survey was conducted among 4,300 teachers by TES Global, which runs tes.com, an online community and marketplace for teachers, and the Jefferson Education Accelerator, founded at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education to help develop and scale ed tech solutions.
Considering who's making most technology decisions, it probably isn't surprising to learn that budget is a major driver. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they believe cost is the primary influence on ed tech selection — much more so than student outcomes (22 percent) or teacher buy-in (9 percent).
The teachers also said they're not the only ones left in the dark. A scant 12 percent of respondents reported that school-based technology experts currently make decisions; however, a solid third (33 percent) said those individuals "should" play an important role (second only to themselves).
Nearly half (49 percent) added that parents should play the smallest role in making decisions. District leadership isn't far behind; 24 percent of respondents put them at the bottom of the list for making decisions related to ed tech.
The survey found that teachers typically either learn about new technology by researching it themselves or relying on their peers in the same school or district (38 and 37 percent, respectively).
Six in 10 teachers (62 percent) said they would like a shortlist presented to them from which to make their choices; nearly three in 10 (26 percent) said they would prefer to make all the decisions without somebody else first narrowing their options; and almost half (48 percent) said they care most about identifying what products to test or deploy.
However, many teachers would also like special training to know how to evaluate and use new technologies. Forty-five percent of respondents said they didn't believe that their professional development programs prepared them to evaluate or use tech in their classrooms.
"Nobody is better situated than classroom teachers when it comes to observing which education technologies are driving meaningful improvements to student learning outcomes," noted Bob Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education and chairman of the Jefferson Education Accelerator. "Decisions about which ed tech products and services should be in our classrooms should be heavily influenced by teachers who have access to evidence of their impact."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.