Survey: Ed-tech use falls short of desired goals

Despite the tough economy, schools still have been able to maintain ed-tech integration plans—though they’d like to do more.

Despite budget constraints brought on by a lagging economy, K-12 schools and colleges are holding steady when it comes to ed-tech use. But they’d like to be doing even better.

That’s the key takeaway, anyway, from a self-assessment of educational technology use conducted by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

The organization’s “2012 SIIA Vision K-20 Survey,” the fourth in an annual series of benchmarking studies, surveyed nearly 1,700 officials representing all levels of K-20 education. The self-assessment asks school and campus leaders to rate their progress toward SIIA’s vision for ed-tech use, represented in two ways:

(1) Seven educational goals, which describe the key instructional and institutional outcomes enabled through technology…

• Meet the individual needs of all students;

• Support accountability and use data to inform instruction;

• Deepen learning and motivate students;

• Facilitate communication, connectivity, and collaboration;

• Manage the education enterprise effectively and economically;

• Enable students to learn from any place, at any time;

• Nurture creativity and self-expression; and

(2) Five technology measures that indicate progress in implementing technology to meet these goals…

• Widely use 21st century tools for teaching and learning;

• Provide anytime/anywhere educational access;

• Offer differentiated learning options and resources;

• Employ technology-based assessment tools;

• Use technology to redesign and enable enterprise support.

This year, SIIA added three new questions at the beginning of the survey to get a deeper understanding of participants’ mindset:

  1. How well is technology currently integrated in your educational institution?
  2. What do you feel is the ideal level of integration for technology in your educational institution?
  3. How important is integrating technology into your educational institution?

Although about three-fourths of both K-12 and postsecondary participants rated the importance of technology integration high, only about one-fouth said they currently have a “high” level of integration, suggesting that ed-tech use lags behind ideal usage for both K-12 schools and colleges.

“This is because technology is moving so quickly, it’s hard to keep up with,” said Karen Billings, vice president of SIIA’s education division, during a webinar hosted by Connected Educator Month. “Yet, postsecondary institutions say they’re much close to their ideals than K-12 participants say. This is probably because, when it comes to technology use for learning, postsecondary [schools were] always ahead of K-12, and the students are older and are more prone to tech use on campuses.”

Many of the findings from this year’s survey were similar to those of last year’s survey. For instance, both K-12 and higher-education institutions ranked “enterprise support” as most important of the five technology measures, which Billings attributed to the need for accountability. Both types of institutions rated “assessment tools” as the lowest in importance among the five technology measures.

“This might change soon, thanks to the Common Core State Standards … movement,” said Billings.

The four ed-tech benchmarks with the highest current usage have remained the same for the last three years and are the same for both K-12 and higher education, SIIA said—led by security tools used to protect student data and privacy:

Regarding the seven educational goals identified by SIIA, K-12 schools are still further from reaching their ideals than colleges and universities, but both say they are closest to their ideal in “facilitating communication,” while both are farthest from their ideal in “nurturing creativity and self-expression.”

Although the results for K-12 schools and colleges are mostly similar, there are some slight differences, Billings said. For example, postsecondary institutions place a higher priority on “anytime/anywhere access” than K-12 schools, which is understandable given the campus atmosphere and students’ personal use of mobile devices on campus.

There also have been slight increases for both types of institutions in ed-tech integration for differentiated instruction, assessment tools, and information systems to track performance. Also, more institutions are closer to their ideals in broadband and security systems.

“Though participants still listed funding, leadership, time, and technology obsolescence as the main obstacles to reaching their ideals, the benchmark scores are consistent—indicating that, despite the tough economy, schools are still able to maintain technology integration plans,” Billings said.

“Also, judging by the … increases in broadband and security …, as well as the continued emphasis on enterprise tools, we might assume that school, district, and large campus goals are easier to manage than individual classroom goals.”

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