Technology is widely available to students in classrooms across the United States, a new study shows.
The study comes from the non-profit NewSchools Venture Fund and Gallup, a company best known for its public opinion surveys. It found that nearly nine in 10 U.S. public school students say they use digital learning tools at least a few days a week. And more than half of those questioned said they use digital technology to learn every day.
In the new survey, digital learning tools means technology. It includes websites, application software programs, and online classes, games, videos and programs.
The survey found that classroom technology gets high marks from educators. At least eight in 10 teachers and school administrators said they see great value in using classroom technology tools now and in the future.
A report on the survey and its findings was released earlier this month. It is called Education Technology Use in Schools.
Who took the survey?
Researchers questioned thousands of U.S. public school teachers and students, school principals and school district administrators. The educators work in schools with classes from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
The report found that across the country, digital learning “is everywhere and it’s very integral to learning,” Tonika Cheek Clayton told VOA. She is managing partner at NewSchools. The fund connects businesses with donors to finance new education technology programs.
Clayton says that most U.S. teachers – 65 percent -- use digital tools to teach every day. She adds that more than three fourths of teachers said the technology helps to improve their effectiveness in the classroom. Educators think it is especially effective in activities like research, information searches, reports and presentations.
Technology and future employment
When it comes to preparing students for future employment and careers, the study found that educators are likely to say technology is more effective than non-digital tools for connecting learning to students’ careers.
Derek Kelley of Virginia agrees. He coordinates technology for Fairfax County Public Schools, which serves nearly 200,000 students. He told VOA, “the important thing is to help prepare the students for real world experience” and knowledge about technology is something students need.
Kelley said technology is just one of many tools available to teachers. Because students learn differently, technology can help teachers support their students by offering different methods for providing information.
“Traditional teaching where the teachers (are) standing up, versus the role of technology in a classroom, I think both are important,” Kelley said. “And I think there needs to be balance.”
In the report, more than half of the special education teachers questioned said technology can help their students.
Tony Daniel, a special education teacher, agrees with that. He teaches children with learning difficulties at the Springfield Estates Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia.
Daniel says he uses technology tools “as a way to extend learning and really enhance how the kids are learning to give them a more hands-on experience.”
Daniel helps his students learn and do computer coding in class. At times, some of his students like using a pencil and paper, while others want to use technology. He said they have to be taught how to use technology.
“You really have to think about if that student’s needs are being met and not just you know, giving everyone a tablet,” he said.
Critics of technology in classrooms say that students are spending too much time looking at screens on their computers or electronic devices.
Concerns about technology overuse is something Derek Kelley’s office hears about from the community. “So we are making sure that there is a balance with student use of technology,” he says.
Tonika Cheeck Clayton said what is important is that nearly all of the teachers -- 90 percent -- limit technology use to less than half of the class time. That was true even for those who use technology every day.
What do the students think?
Nearly all elementary students say digital learning tools are fun. Most say the technology helps them learn things on their own and at their own speed.
Almost three-fourths of secondary students say the technology tools help them learn things on their own. Over half said they make school more interesting. Forty-two percent would like to use it more often at school, and only eight percent said they would like to use them less.
One thing everyone agrees on: technology is here to stay in American classrooms.
I’m Anne Ball.
And I'm Bryan Lynn.
Words in This Story
district – n. an area established by a government for official government business
kindergarten – n. a class for very young children
integral – adj. very important and necessary
versus – preposition. used to indicate two different things, choices, etc., that are being compared or considered
enhance – v. to increase or improve something
coding – v. to change (information) into a set of letters, numbers, or symbols that can be read by a computer
screen – n. the usually flat part of a television or computer monitor that shows the images or text : the part of a television or computer that you look at when you are using it