Survey: Teachers Say Tech Distractions More Concerning than Privacy, Security

Most teachers in the United States are more worried about the potential for technology in the classroom to distract students than they are about privacy and security, according to a new survey from Instructure. Respondents also said, however, that they are optimistic about technology's potential to improve learning outcomes, increase access to education and boost the efficiency with which it's delivered.

The online survey polled more than 650 K-12 and higher education teachers in the U.S. and more than 2,000 educators from industrialized countries worldwide in December 2015.

"According to the study, U.S. educators believe technology's potential for distraction will wane as digital culture and infrastructure mature in the next five years, giving way to other concerns like privacy and security in 2020," according to a news release. "However, these present and future apprehensions don't stop many U.S. educators from allowing personal electronics in their classrooms. U.S. teachers have a higher tolerance for personal devices in the classroom than do British and Australian teachers. In fact, the study shows that 48 percent of U.S. educators say students can bring technology to class for educational purposes, and one in seven U.S. educators allows any electronic device as long as it doesn't distract other students."

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 94 percent of respondents from the United States said that technology's effects in the classroom are an overall positive;
  • 92 percent of U.S. respondents said that technology has made education more accessible;
  • 81 percent of respondents in the U.S. said that technology has made them a more effective teacher;
  • 84 percent of teachers polled in the U.S. said that technology makes teaching more efficient;
  • About 40 percent of U.S. teachers surveyed said that technology saves them at least three hours each week;
  • 93 percent of respondents from the United States said that advancements in technology are important; and
  • Only 5 percent of U.S. teachers polled said they were indifferent to advances in technology and only 3 percent told researchers they rarely or never try new advances in technology.

"With this study we wanted to discover how educators around the world perceive the technology they and their students use on a daily basis," said Jared Stein, vice president of research and education at Instructure, in a prepared statement. "It is enlightening to find that the most pressing concern among educators was distraction, outranking issues like privacy and security. While privacy and security are critical issues, these findings suggest teachers are focused on how, not whether, technology should be used."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].