Teachers’ digital media use on the rise

More teachers are adopting digital technology into their instruction, according to a PBS survey.
More teachers are adopting digital technology into their instruction, according to a PBS survey.

Teachers are making significant progress in adopting digital media and using the internet for instruction, according to findings from a new survey released Jan. 5 by PBS.

The survey, “Digitally Inclined,” aims to provide information about instructional needs and trends to education leaders, policy makers, and the media industry.

The survey, compiled by education research group Grunwald Associates, includes data collected from pre-K educators for the first time. The annual survey has been conducted since 2002 to examine educators’ media use.

According to “Digitally Inclined,” 76 percent of K-12 educators said they use digital media in the classroom, up from 69 percent in 2008. Of those teachers, 80 percent are frequent or regular users, though digital media use is less common among pre-K educators, with only 33 percent reporting that they are frequent or regular users.

“The significant increases in the usage, frequency, and access to digital media in the classroom over the past several years, along with the research showing that integrating multimedia and technology into instruction can boost student achievement, is driving our strategy to produce the most effective media for learning,” said Rob Lippincott, senior vice president of education for PBS. “We’re especially pleased that PBS has emerged as the No. 1 source of educational TV and online content among pre-K teachers in the survey.”

The survey found that in addition to being the top web site choice of pre-K teachers, PBS is also the go-to source for recording and downloading content.

Other key findings include:

• K-12 teachers increasingly access video online. While teachers narrowly prefer using purchased or recorded DVDs, 72 percent said they stream or download content from the internet, up from 65 percent in 2008. About 29 percent of pre-K educators use this method.

• Teachers’ use of video is one indication that they are becoming more strategic in selecting short chunks of electronic content and targeting its use for specific purposes. A large majority of pre-K and K-12 teachers strongly agree that TV and video content are more effective when it is integrated with other instructional resources in the classroom. A majority of teachers said they are more likely to use video segments rather than entire programs, with an average segment length of about five to 10 minutes.

• Teachers are increasing their use of games, student-produced presentations, and social media. Pre-K and K-12 teachers value many different types of digital media, with games and activities for students to use in school (65 percent) topping the list. Teachers increasingly value student-produced multimedia, student-created web sites, blogs, and social media communities as well.

• One-quarter of K-12 educators said they belong to an online community specifically for teachers, and those who use social networking sites said they are comfortable with a variety of online activities. Results are similar for pre-K educators.

The findings could herald positive changes in pre-K and K-12 education, Lippincott said in the survey report. These changes could include more engaging, creative, and collaborative learning environments and new and different resources that support rigorous, inquiry-based learning, as well as new tools for students to produce content and take charge of their learning.

Other changes could include more effective instruction for students with different learning styles and abilities, as well as more positive and flexible forums for collaboration and professional development, built around communities of interest and expertise rather than around geography alone, Lippincott wrote.

To help teachers continue to use multimedia in strategic and effective ways to improve student learning, PBS is a developing a Digital Learning Library, which is a collection of digital learning objects, such as video, audio, images, and interactive simulations designed for classroom use. The library is scheduled to be available through PBS member stations nationwide later this year.


PBS “Digitally Inclined” report (PDF)

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