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Poll: Teachers, parents want more technology

Teachers and parents said access to broadband has wide implications for student success.

Results from a new poll suggest that parents and teachers support more use of technology to improve students’ education and real-world skills. The poll comes from the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission, a non-governmental organization exploring the opportunity to use technology to improve education in the United States.

The survey reflects responses from 812 K-12 public school teachers and 883 parents of K-12 public school children in August 2012. This included an over-sampling of low-income parents.

Both parents and teachers said they believe U.S. public schools have some catching up to do when it comes to technology use. Many believe the nation is behind the curve when it comes to other parts of the economy and other countries.

See also: “New group aims to spur technology’s role in education

In fact, a majority of both parents and teachers said more investments in technology are worthwhile at the local, state, and federal levels. Sixty-three percent of teachers said that additional investments are “definitely worth it,” and 32 percent said they are “probably worth it.” Similarly, 65 percent of parents said these additional investments are “definitely worth it,” and 26 percent said they are “probably worth it.”

Respondents said technology can be helpful in addressing many education reform goals, including:

  • Providing more individualized and flexible learning.
  • Offering more hands-on learning opportunities.
  • Helping students become more engaged in their own learning.
  • Making closer connections between the classroom and the real world.
  • Exposing students to experts outside the classroom and different perspectives on issues.

Parents and teachers alike said that broadband technology is important to student learning and achievement, and they acknowledged that students who do not have access to broadband service are at a disadvantage.

Seventy-four percent of teachers and 82 percent of parents said it is very important for schools to make good use of technology. Fifty-four percent of teachers and 64 percent of parents said that technology will be increasingly important in preparing young people for the future.

When compared to other sectors such as business, 74 percent of teachers and 59 percent of parents said they believe that U.S. public education is somewhat behind the curve in the way it uses technology. Twelve percent of teachers and 17 percent of parents said U.S. public schools are far behind the curve, and 26 percent of teachers and 29 percent of parents said that the U.S. is ahead of the curve.

The survey asked teachers and parents if they would support investments in technological devices instead of investments in traditional textbooks if given the choice. Eighty-nine percent of teachers and 76 percent of parents said they would support an investment in an internet-connected device instead of purchasing new science textbooks.

Student engagement emerged as a large issue in the survey, with 92 percent of teachers and 89 percent of parents saying that helping students become more engaged and active participants in their own learning is a critical or very important objective.

What’s more:

  • 91 percent of teachers and 85 percent of parents said making closer connections between the classroom and the real world is critical.
  • 86 percent of teachers and 83 percent of parents responded that exposing students to different perspectives or ways of thinking about topics is critical.
  • 86 percent of teachers and 87 percent of parents said students should have access to more hands-on learning opportunities.

A majority of both teacher and parent respondents said technology also can…

  • Offer real-time feedback on student performance.
  • Help tailor individual/flexible learning to each student.
  • Offer more hands-on learning opportunities.
  • Offer closer connections between the classroom and the real world.
  • Make students more active and engaged.
  • Extend learning opportunities beyond school hours.

Low-income parents are even more likely to place importance on technology’s potential to positively impact the various learning goals identified in the survey.

The majority of teacher respondents said they need more training to effectively use technology: 47 percent said they receive a fair amount of training but need some more, and 35 percent said they receive a little training and need a lot more. Five percent said they receive no training, and just 13 percent said they receive all the training they need.

The poll release serves as a prelude to the LEAD Symposium on Technology in Education, a day-long gathering of education, technology, and policy leaders to discuss the current barriers and opportunities involved in the adoption of technology in K-12 education. The event, which will take place on Sept. 11 at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, will conclude with a discussion with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.

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Laura Ascione

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