A survey of U.S. middle and high school teachers finds that ed tech has become central to their profession. At the same time, the internet, mobile phones, and social media have brought new challenges to teachers—and they report striking differences in access between lower and higher-income students and schools.
The survey comes from the Pew Research Center, which polled more than 2,400 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers last spring. When asked about the impact of the internet and ed-tech tools on their profession…
• 92 percent of these teachers said the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials.
• 69 percent said the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with other teachers.
• 67 percent said the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to interact with parents, and 57 percent said it has had such an impact on their interaction with students.
The survey found that ed-tech tools are widely used in classrooms and assignments, and a majority of teachers are satisfied with the ed-tech support and resources they receive from their schools. However, it also found that teachers of the lowest-income students face more challenges in using ed-tech tools in their classrooms.
Mobile technology has become central to the learning process, with 73 percent of AP and NWP teachers saying they or their students use their cell phones in the classroom or to complete assignments. Nearly half of teachers report using eReader devices (45 percent) or tablet computers (43 percent) in their classrooms or to complete assignments.
Teachers of low-income students, however, are much less likely than teachers of the highest income students to use tablet computers (37 percent versus 56 percent) or eReaders (41 percent versus 55 percent) in their classrooms or assignments.
Similarly, just over half (52 percent) of teachers of upper and upper-middle income students say their students use cell phones to look up information in class, compared with 35 percent of teachers of the lowest income students.
What’s more, just 15 percent of AP and NWP teachers whose students are from upper-income households say their school is “behind the curve” in effectively using ed-tech tools in the learning process—while 39 percent who teach students from low-income households describe their school as “behind the curve.”
And 70 percent of teachers of the highest income students say their school does a “good job” providing the resources needed to bring digital tools into the classroom; the same is true of just 50 percent of teachers working in low-income areas.
Teachers of the lowest income students are more than twice as likely as teachers of the highest income students (56 percent versus 21 percent) to say that students’ lack of access to digital technologies is a “major challenge” to incorporating more ed-tech tools into their teaching.