According to a survey, by Pew Research, of teachers who instruct American middle and secondary school, technologies have become central to their teaching and, at the same time, the internet, mobile phones, and social media have brought new challenges to teachers.
Teachers note these things about the overall impact of the internet and digital tools on their teaching and their classroom work:
The survey finds that digital tools are widely used in classrooms and assignments, and a majority of these teachers are satisfied with the support and resources they receive from their school in this area. However, it also indicates that teachers of the lowest income students face more challenges in bringing these tools to their classrooms:
Mobile technology has become central to the learning process, with 73% of AP and NWP teachers saying that they and/or their students use their cell phones in the classroom or to complete assignments:
Similarly, 52% of teachers of upper and upper-middle income students say their students use cell phones to look up information in class, compared with 35% of teachers of the lowest income students.
Just 15% of AP and NWP teachers whose students are from upper income households say their school is “behind the curve” in effectively using digital tools in the learning process; 39% who teach students from low income households describe their school as “behind the curve.”
70% of teachers of the highest income students say their school does a “good job” providing the resources needed to bring digital tools into the classroom; the same is true of 50% of teachers working in low income areas.
Teachers of the lowest income students are more than twice as likely as teachers of the highest income students (56% v. 21%) to say that students’ lack of access to digital technologies is a “major challenge” to incorporating more digital tools into their teaching.
These teachers see disparities in access to digital tools having at least some impact on their students. 54% say all or almost all of their students have sufficient access to digital tools at school, but only a fifth of these teachers say all or almost all of their students have access to the digital tools they need at home.
“How many of your students have sufficient access to the internet and other digital technologies they need to effectively complete school assignments…”
Sufficient Access to Digital Technologies (% of Respondents)
All of Almost All
Source: Pew Research Center, 2012
Digital tools are critical to AP and NWP teachers’ lesson preparation, networking and professionalization. Among the key findings in this area:
Despite their heavy tech use, 42% of AP and NWP teachers say their students usually know more than they do when it comes to using new digital technologies. Just 18% feel they know more than their students. This is despite the fact that 56% of AP and NWP teachers are “very confident” when it comes to learning how to use the latest digital tools, and another 39% say they are “somewhat confident.”
These are among the main findings of an online survey of a non-probability sample of 2,462 middle and high school teachers currently teaching in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, conducted between March 7 and April 23, 2012. Some 1,750 of the teachers are drawn from a sample of advanced placement (AP) high school teachers, while the remaining 712 are from a sample of National Writing Project teachers. Survey findings are complemented by insights from a series of online and in-person focus groups with middle and high school teachers and students in grades 9-12, conducted between November, 2011 and February, 2012.
For more information from Pew Research, and access to the complete PDF file, please visit here.