Equity Issues

Concerns Over Homework Gap Hinder Technology Adoption

More educators want to be trained on how to incorporate technology into their daily teaching practices, but a new report from Project Tomorrow shows that they are concerned how their students will be able to access those tools outside the classroom. Forty-three percent of teachers surveyed want to be effective with the use of technology in their classrooms, but "they need confidence that their students will have out-of-school access to technology tools and the internet."

The report finds the percentage of students impacted by the homework gap has decreased in grades 6-12 from 20 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2019. However, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans, who authored the paper, writes that we should not be satisfied that one out of eight students today may need to complete their homework "at a McDonald's on a family member's smartphone."

"Given that learning today is really a 24/7 enterprise with access to an abundance of learning resources online, students who lack out of school access are also most likely not participating in the rich self-directed learning experiences enjoyed by students with appropriate connectivity at home. Inherently, this is another level of inequity in education," said Evans in her report.

Project Tomorrow's Speak Up Research Initiative surveyed over 343,500 students, parents, teachers and administrators during the 2018-2019 school year to get their feedback on digital learning for the report. In addition to addressing concerns surrounding digital learning, the two other sections of the report focus on how teachers are actively using technology tools in their classrooms and three hurdles that teachers face when implementing those tools.

To address concerns over equity, more school districts have invested in loaning WiFi hotspots to parents and putting WiFi hotspots on buses.

Other findings related to teacher needs include:

  • Only one fifth of classroom teachers say they are very comfortable with using technology to facilitate student collaborations, integrating mobile devices into instruction or differentiating instruction using digital tools.
  • Thirty-nine percent of most teachers are not comfortable at all with technology-enhanced instructional practices.
  • Thirty-eight percent of teachers with one to three years of experience want to get a curated set of resources and 42 percent of those same teachers want classroom strategy tips.
  • The majority of parents (82 percent) think effective use of technology is important for their child's future, but their top concern is that technology usage varies too much from teacher to teacher.

The full report is available on Project Tomorrow's website.

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.

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