Educators report low confidence in ed-tech research

Although many educators rely on vendor-supplied reports for information on education technology tools, most educators have doubts about vendors’ ability to perform reliable research, according to a new survey.

Ninety-one percent of educators in the Education Research Perspectives Survey say they rely heavily on general web searches, and almost half of those surveyed say they rely on vendor reports, for information on education technology tools.

The survey of tech-savvy teachers and administrators was conducted by ISTE and the Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX) and queried more than 1,100 teachers, district staff, school administrators, and technology leaders from all 50 states.

Vendors and media outlets are some of the most frequent sources of ed-tech information, along with general web searches. However, only 24 percent of surveyed educators say they believe ed-tech vendors are well-equipped to conduct reliable ed-tech research–and just 10 percent believe the same for media organizations.

Educators’ low confidence points to a clear need for stronger research.

“Educators and students alike lose out when it’s unclear which solution works best for a given classroom or learning need–and when it’s hard to find reliable research to make informed choices about ed tech,” says ISTE Chief Learning Officer Joseph South. “This survey points us in a direction towards what resources need to be made available to schools and districts.”

The majority of respondents (69 percent) keep up with ed-tech research regularly, and more than eight in 10 reported they are “very comfortable with ed tech and believe in its potential to positively impact teaching and learning.”

Educators say they are are most likely to discuss ed-tech research when talking with colleagues about a recommended tool (70 percent) and during collaborative planning time (64 percent).

Respondents believe local schools and districts (67 percent), as well as research (65 percent) and education nonprofits (63 percent), are best equipped to “conduct valid research about the effectiveness of different edtech tools and disseminate those findings.”

“The results of this survey reinforce the need for new approaches to gathering and sharing reliable data about education technology,” says Bart Epstein, CEO of JEX. “Many educators seek better and more objective data about ed tech–but often struggle to navigate a complex, fragmented network of information.”