Sunday, August 26, 2012

findings from a national survey of teachers grades pre-K-12 that sheds light on the rising role of technology in America’s classrooms, as well as barriers teachers face to accessing the “right” digital resources.  Ninety-one percent of teachers surveyed reported having access to computers in their classrooms, but only one-in-five (22 percent) said they have the right level of technology.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of teachers cited budget as the biggest barrier to accessing tech in the classroom.  In low-income communities, this is an even greater challenge as 70 percent of teachers reported it as the greatest obstacle.  Teachers in affluent communities also have greater parental and school board support for tech in the classroom compared to those teaching in low-income communities.  Thirty-eight percent vs. 14 percent cited high levels of parental support and 38 percent vs. 21 percent for school board support.

While the vast majority of teachers have access to computers, less than two-thirds (59 percent) have access to an interactive whiteboard, a newer technology that can be used more broadly for classroom lessons.  Teachers in affluent districts are also twice as likely to have access to tablets as teachers in middle and lower income districts.  Still, teachers’ opinion about the ability of tech to enhance learning is universal; 93 percent believe that interactive whiteboards enrich classroom education and 81 percent feel the same way about tablets.  This attitude towards technology transcends grade level, the income levels of the student population and the types of communities where they teach.  

According to the survey, tech resources used most often in the classroom include:  websites (56 percent), online images (44 percent) and online games or activities (43 percent).  Increasing student motivation (77 percent), reinforcing and expanding on content being taught (76 percent) and responding to a variety of learning styles (76 percent) are the top three reasons teachers use technology in the classroom.

VeraQuest Research. (2012).Teacher survey. Washington, DC: PBS.

Tech device use study

Devices Add More Value When Used With Interactive Whiteboards

A study involving more than 300 educators from around the world reveals that using both interactive whiteboards and personal devices such as tablets or PCs in the classroom provides more value than using either on its own because it enhances the ability to shift easily between whole-class, small group and individual learning.

The survey also found that instructional technology works most effectively when it is combined with teacher training, high-quality digital content and implementation best practices. The study was conducted by Filigree Consulting, an independent consulting firm specializing in technology research, on behalf of SMART Technologies Inc.

According to the study results, 70 percent of the educators who had a high-level of collaborative learning adoption combined with best practices reported receiving above average returns on their technology investment, including gains in student achievement. By contrast, nearly half of the educators who had implemented instructional technology without a developed strategy reported below average returns.

Filigree Consulting. (2012). Instructional Technology and Collaborative Learning Best Practices: Global Report and Recommendations. Calgary, Canada: Smart Technologies.

Teacher quality report

A new report gives what's probably the most comprehensive look to date at the teacher-quality legislative and regulatory action that has kept statehouses busy since 2009, when the federal Race to the Top competition put an emphasis on reworking teacher-evaluation policies.
One of the report's takeaways: While all 21 states require student learning to count in teacher evaluations, some states don't require such evaluations annually or don't specify how much weight student achievement should be given. In general, the report shows, states have done less to prescribe how the evaluations will affect things like tenure, seniority, and teacher preparation.
This is a phenomenon that also touches on the No Child Left Behind waivers that more than half the states have received. To receive a waiver, states had to pledge to update their evaluation systems to include measures of student growth, among other things. However, states' bids weren't very clear on what consequences those evaluations would carry.
Mead, S. (2012). Recent state action on teacher effectiveness. Boston: Bellwether Education.

ACT college-ready study

ACT Finds Most Students Still Not Ready for College
Student performance on the ACT essentially held steady this year, with slight improvement shown in the math and science parts of the college-entrance exam.Still, 60 percent of the class of 2012 that took the test failed to meet benchmarks in two of the four subjects tested, putting them in jeopardy of failing in their pursuit of a college degree and careers.
ACT. (2012). Condition of College and Career Readiness 2012. Iowa City, IA: ACT.

Information literacy needs

An ethnographic study of Illinois college students found that despite being “born digital,” today’s undergraduates struggle with researching scholarly information. Further, they do not recognize their own limitations. Students reported that Google is their most regularly used search tool, but most did not know how to build a search or how to limit search results within it.
College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know.

Edited by: Lynda M. Duke and Andrew D. Asher. ALA, 2011.