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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Slow K-12 Tech Taking Pressure Off Hi-Ed?

Many assume that students enrolling in college a decade or so from now will have high expectations for classroom technology based on their hands-on experiences in elementary and secondary schools.

However, a new annual survey of teachers and instructional specialists conducted by Education Week indicates K-12 academic technology may not be ramping up all that quickly at this time. The survey report, Technology Counts 2016: Transforming the Classroom, found that close to three-quarters of the respondents enjoyed working with new educational technology, yet for the most part their classes were using tech solutions for only mundane activities such as practice drills and reviewing lesson content.

“These findings echo previous research showing that, despite an influx of technology in schools, many teachers still mainly rely on digital programs to supplement traditional instructional strategies rather than to support more creative, inquiry-based learning,” the report stated. “But the results also suggest that digital learning in some form is ingrained in many classrooms, and that there is momentum toward new practices.”

For the first time, the 2016 survey included a Tech Confidence Index to determine teachers’ levels of confidence in performance, funding, policymaking, and public support for K-12 educational technology. On a scale of zero (most negative) to 100 (most positive), the respondents scored an average of 43 for the present—a relatively lukewarm level of confidence—but the average score rose to 55 when respondents were asked about the near future.

Why has K-12 technology adoption been so slow?

“The teacher respondents indicated that having too few digital-learning devices in their schools and a lack of tech-oriented professional development remain barriers to more regular use of classroom technology,” said the report. “In addition, wireless-connectivity problems and computer breakdowns are still far from infrequent, according to the responses.”

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