Ed Tech Research

How Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom

A report from Columbia University researchers explores what types of technology teachers are using in the classroom and its effectiveness.

How Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom 

While more educators are using technology in the classroom every day, there is no monolithic way that teachers are implementing new forms of learning, according to a study from Columbia University researchers published in the journal Teachers College Record. The study finds most teachers fall into four buckets: dexterous (24.2 percent), evaders (22.2 percent), assessors (28.4 percent) and presenters (24.8 percent). The study is using information from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Fast Response Survey System from 2009 in a report entitled Teacher’s Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools.

“There is a tendency to say that there are good users of the technology and bad users, but I found the opposite,” said Kenneth Graves, lead author of the study. “We need to stop pushing the ideal technology and start thinking about what teachers need and how context influences what teachers are using as opposed to seeing technology as a neutral act that doesn’t have any outside influence.”

Dexterous teachers report that they are comfortable with any type of technology and are ready to learn more through professional development. This is in contrast to evaders who are resistant to technology in any way. Presenters are teachers who use technology to aid with lectures and also guide students on how to use presentation software to produce written texts and presentations. Assessors are the most comfortable using technology for drill and practice software for use in areas such as math or reading.

The researchers found that teachers in low-income schools are more likely to be assessors and less to be presenters than dexterous. The study determined that low-income schools are more likely to have teachers who use technology in less meaningful ways.

Graves said he hopes that his study will help school administrators determine what is best for professional development.

“If you are principal and you know that you have a school of assessors and low-income students, it’s difficult to justify purchasing smartboards for every classroom,” said Graves. “You need to use context for the way that you purchase technology not based on trends. This perspective hasn’t been talked about in schools much where there is a data informed way of doing technology leadership in schools.”

Graves’s work is funded through grant from the American Educational Research Association. He said that he has plans to publish more research related to how school principals are using technology and looking at how to solve the digital divide through a “social justice lens.”

A full copy of the article is available for purchase here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.