Ed Tech Trends
Study Exposes Teacher Rift on Digital Device Usage in Schools
- By Dian Schaffhauser
American teachers tend to see student use of digital devices as being slightly more positive than negative. However, they also believe smartphones, tablets and computers are having a bad influence on the physical and mental health of students too.
That's the latest finding from Gallup in a web study completed by nearly 500 adults aged 18 and older who teach K-12 students.
Forty-two percent said the effects of digital devices on education was "mostly helpful"; 28 percent considered it "mostly harmful." The gap related to physical and mental health was far wider: 55 percent thought digital devices were primarily detrimental to physical health, compared to 4 percent who said the opposite; and 69 percent said the same for mental health, compared to 4 percent reporting the opposite.
Among high school teachers, specifically, a near-equal share views the impact of device usage as helpful or harmful (36 percent vs. 34 percent). However, younger teachers are more likely than older educators to take a positive outlook. Slightly more than half of those under 40 (51 percent) said devices were mostly helpful in education; just 36 percent of those over 40 said the same.
The parents of school-aged children were even more optimistic than any group of subset teachers. In a separate survey a whopping 87 percent reported that the effect of the devices would mostly helpful to their students' education; and 13 percent said it was mostly hurtful.
Gallup called the findings "potentially significant," claiming that without teacher support, technology uptake in education "won't by fully realized." The researchers' suggestion: Teachers need more training. Since digital device ownership is only expected to continue growing, the report advised, " schools must take appropriate action--including professional development programs for teachers on using digital devices in classrooms."
The report and complete findings are available on the Gallup website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.