By next June, 99 percent of America’s public schools will be connected to the internet, according to a new report from market research firm Quality Education Data (QED). That’s up from 95 percent at the start of this school year—and it’s just one of the interesting findings of the new report, according to Jeanne Hayes, QED president.

QED’s “Internet Usage in Public Schools 2000, 5th Edition,” also reveals a change in exactly what teachers are using the internet for, Hayes said.

While past studies indicated that teachers use the internet primarily for research, this year’s study shows that 81 percent of teachers surveyed now use the internet to evaluate curriculum material.

“One of my favorite findings is the fact that teachers are now finding and evaluating curriculum material using the internet, rather than just using it for research. That really shows a move towards a more vibrant use of the internet,” Hayes said.

The new report also reveals that a growing number of educators are using the internet for lesson planning and professional development.

The study polled a random sample from QED’s National Education Database, which contains all public schools in the United States. The company conducted 400 telephone surveys with public school core curriculum teachers. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

The majority of those surveyed said the internet has played a positive role in educating U.S. children. Of the teachers who said they use the internet to teach, 38 percent said it has given them access to more instructional materials and resources.

The overall findings of “Internet Usage as a Teaching Aid” reveal that the vast majority of those surveyed, 80.8 percent, use the internet to evaluate curriculum material. Nearly 79 percent use the internet for doing research, and 72.7 percent use it for eMail and communication.

A little over half of the respondents, 53.2 percent, said they use the internet for professional development, 52.9 percent use it to create presentation tools, and 52 percent use it in lesson planning. Only 13.6 percent of teachers use the internet to make online purchases.

“The use of the internet seems far more widespread now for finding materials to guide curriculum. I expected more skepticism, but everyone really seems ready to move forward with the internet in the classroom,” Hayes said.

“Using curriculum materials found on the internet opens up resources never available to teacher,” she added. “This [study] shows the rapid adoption of web sites designed to deliver curriculum and professional development tools to teachers. We have also found that state departments and school districts are creating annotated links to curricular materials for their teachers—often including materials that correlate to state standards.”

The teachers who responded also were asked to define the impact of the internet on teaching. Of those teachers who use the internet in teaching, 31 percent report that the web gives access to better instructional materials and resources, and 27 percent of teachers indicated that the internet helps them and their students do better research. Only 18 percent reported that they do not feel they are teaching any differently as a result of the internet.

Another finding involves the use of internet filtering software by grade level. In 1999, approximately 58 percent of all elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools reported using filtering software. Those figures changed in 2000, most dramatically at the middle-school level. The percentage of schools that use filtering software stayed about the same at the elementary level, but jumped from 58.9 percent to 66.7 percent at the middle-school level and, less markedly, from 58.3 percent to 63.5 percent at the high-school level.

The report also examined the web sites that were most often recommended for student use. The site named the most was Yahoo, with 19.3 percent of teachers responding that they use it the most. That was followed by Yahooligans (8.2 percent), Ask Jeeves (8.2 percent), Scholastic (7 percent), Alta Vista (5.3 percent), NASA (4.1 percent), Discovery Online (2.9 percent), ERIC (2.9 percent), About.com (2.3 percent), and Dog Pal (2.3 percent). Nearly 51 percent of respondents named “other” as the site they visited the most for student use.

QED, established in 1981, is a market research and database company wholly owned by Scholastic Inc. and focused entirely on education.

Links:

Quality Education Data
http://www.qeddata.com

Scholastic Inc.
http://www.scholastic.com

By the Numbers: Internet Usage as a Teaching Aid
Type of use Percentage of teachers
  2000 1999
Evaluating curriculum materials 80.8% 63%
Research 78.7% 74%
eMail/Communication 72.7% 82%
Professional development 53.2% 55%
Presentation tool 52.9% 43%
Lesson planning 52.0% 57%
Online purchases 13.6% N/A
(Source: Quality Education Data, 2000)