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Do other countries value classroom technology equally?

A new survey takes stock of how often technologies such as smartphones and interactive whiteboards are used across the globe

Technology use is becoming more prevalent in classrooms and for academic work outside of school, but it still varies widely by country, according to a new global survey.

Half of students participating in the survey say they use a desktop computer during lessons, and more than one-third say they still use a chalkboard in class.

Nearly two-thirds of students use smartphones for homework, according to the Cambridge International Global Education Census Survey. The survey includes feedback from 10,209 teachers and 9,397 students across the world.

Smartphones are sometimes a point of contention across the world. In 2015, New York lifted a 10-year ban on phones in schools, while in September of 2018, the French government imposed a ban on mobile phones in state middle schools.

Nearly half (48 percent) of surveyed students use a desktop computer at school, 42 percent use a smartphone, 33 percent use interactive whiteboards, and 20 percent use tablets. Students in China use tablets the most, with one in two students using the devices.

Technology preference varies greatly among different countries–74 percent of U.S. students use smartphones and 92 percent of Indonesian students use interactive whiteboards, for instance, while students in India learn with more traditional methods. In fact, students in India are the least likely to use smartphones in lessons (16 percent versus the global average of 42 percent).

Despite differing views about personal devices and their place in the classroom, the survey makes it clear that new technologies are quickly becoming an established norm in classrooms.

Because technology impacts how students do homework, it heightens concerns about the stubborn at-home internet and device access gap. Sixty-five percent of surveyed students use a laptop to complete homework, but pen and paper haven’t disappeared–in fact, 98 percent of students say they still use the old-school tools.

With students across the globe using more technology for learning, the challenge for teachers and education leaders will be to pinpoint how technology can support learning instead of replacing it.

Despite U.S. rumblings on the value of college and whether such a massive financial investment is worth it, more than 90 percent of surveyed students say they want to enroll in higher education.

Careers advice or counseling is the most-offered support service, with more than half of teachers (55 percent) saying their school offers this. This is highest in India (72 percent), Malaysia (70 percent), and Pakistan (65 percent), while in Argentina, just three in 10 teachers (30 percent) say this is something their school provides.

University and college advice or counselling is also popular, with 41 percent of teachers saying their school offers this–rising to approximately half of teachers in Malaysia (53 percent), the U.S. (50 percent) and China (48 percent). Almost one in five teachers worldwide (18 percent) say their school provides vocational training.

Almost one in five teachers (18 percent) say their school does not provide any of the support services mentioned above–suggesting that while non-academic support is now widespread in schools, it is not a universally established feature of education.

The report focuses on 10 countries–the United States, China, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Indonesia, and Argentina.

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