To support ed tech, schools need to rethink budgets, infrastructure

Faculty and IT staff ranked limited budget as the top barrier to more tech-based learning.

As schools seek to provide more interactive, engaging, and personalized learning, newly released survey results reveal they need to radically rethink their budgets and infrastructure to support this new learning model.

Two-thirds of students want to use technology more often in their classrooms, and 76 percent of IT staff said faculty members show increasing interest in implementing educational technology.

But 87 percent of IT professionals said they would need to upgrade their infrastructure before they can incorporate much more technology in their classrooms, and almost nine in 10 faculty members anticipate problems moving away from the traditional lecture model.

In May and June of 2012, technology provider CDW-G administered a survey to 1,015 high school and college students, faculty members, and IT professionals about the trend towards new learning models that emphasize educational technology, problem-solving, and individualized instruction. CDW-G presented the survey results June 26 as a report entitled “Learn Now, Lecture Later.”

The company previously released research reports on the “21st Century Classroom” in 2010 and 2011, but it observed “an explosion of different devices to engage both students and teachers” in the last year, said Joe Simone, director of K-12 sales for CDW-G.

Simone attributed the sudden “spike” in ed-tech adoption to the ubiquity of touch-based devices such as tablets and smart phones.

“The way people interact with technology in and out of school is very different than just two to three years ago,” he said, noting that consumers now “expect physical touch.”

Schools are trying to “make more of a constant” between the technology that students use outside of school and the equipment available to them in school, Simone said.

Under the traditional learning model, the technology available at home to middle class and wealthier students often “outpace[s]” what schools are able to provide, agreed Mark Washington, director of technology for Port Huron Area School District in Michigan.

Surveyed high school students and faculty ranked laptops and tablets—two devices often available at home—as the technologies they would most like to see used more in classrooms.

“Schools need to have resources equal or better than what [students] have at home,” Washington said.

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