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How Digitally Enabled Educators are Using Technology and What They Want to Learn More About

by Kelly Walsh on April 6, 2014

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Survey Results: Today’s Tech-Aware Educators are Focused on Engaging Students, Learning About New Tools, and Enabling Active Learning.

Over the last month or so EmergingEdTech ran a survey seeking input from educators like you. The goal was to make sure we understand what you want to know about education and instructional technology, and what your biggest challenges are as an educator. The survey received nearly 160 responses (thank you!). Results are being shared results in two parts. This first post deals with the technology-specific questions, and a second shorter post will follow that focuses on the your most significant professional challenges.

First, let’s take a quick peek at the breakdown of grade levels and roles among our respondents.

Survey Results - Eductors Primary Roles GradeLevels

There was an “Other” option available for both of these questions. Among the “Other” Roles that were entered more than once were: Instructional Designers, Curriculum Design and Support, Faculty Development and Training, and Speech Language Pathologists. As for grade levels, “Other” responses that came up multiple times included “Special Education”, “Adult Education”, and “Trainer”, and “Parent”.

Findings

To what ends do you want to see technology used in the classroom? What do you and peers want to know more about. What are you struggling with? Survey says … !

“What Ways Do You Like to Use Technology to Enable Teaching and Learning?”

For this question, only one response rose clearly above all other – engaging students. Among all the other choices there was pretty uniform interest – between 44% and 62% of the respondents indicated that they found technology useful for all of the options offered, with only 2 exceptions (those are cited below).

The top selections were:

  • 72% selected “Better Engaging Students”
  • 62% selected “Communication (web pages, portals, email, etc.)”
  • 59% selected “Collaborative Activities”
  • 58% selected “Letting Students Create Content”
  • 57% selected “Teaching Specific Technology Skills”

Other choices receiving 50% of more included “Applied Learning Activities”, “Project Based Learning”, and “Making Learning Fun”.

It’s pretty cool that “Better Engaging Students” rose to the top so clearly. This can probably be expected from readers who come to a blog that has this goal as part of its tag line. An engaged student is clearly more likely to be a successful student, and one of the many benefits of today’s instructional technologies is their ability to engage when used effectively.

Interestingly, the choices with the lowest rankings were:

  • Only 30% chose “Preparing Students for Careers”
  • Only 27% selected “To Practice Reading and Writing”

The fact that, out of a group with a large percentage of people working in High School and Higher Ed, only 30% of the respondents think that technology in the classroom should play a role in preparing students for careers, is honestly a little concerning. If educators, particularly in the latter stages of schooling, don’t see the connection between the modern workplace, technology, and the skills being taught in the classroom, then how are students supposed to acquire these skills? Perhaps I am misinterpreting these responses, and maybe it was a poorly worded response choice give the wording of the question (what do you think?).

It’s also rather unfortunate that many educators don’t see technology as a tool to practice reading and writing, given the fact it is increasingly the platform on which reading and writing are done (as opposed to paper). Am I missing something in this interpretation?

This question included an option for “Other” responses, and there were a dozen of these provided. I am embarrassed to say that I overlooked a vital use of technology in the classroom, which is Assessibility, and this came up in ‘Other’ a couple of times. Other submissions included “Higher Order Thinking Skills”, “Improve Study Skills”, and “Guided Inquiry”.

“I Prefer Articles That …”

The goal with this question was to delve further into what you and your peers want to know more about when it comes to technology. Every topic received between 84% and 99% positive responses (i.e., either “Agree” or “Strongly Agree”), so it would appear to be a list of topics that teachers are quite interested in. Combining these two positive responses and ranking the list from most interest (98.5%) to the least (84.2%), we get:

  1. Introducing new tools for teaching and learning – 98.5%
  2. Help me understand what is new in education technology – 97.7%
  3. Introduce free tools and resources – 96.3%
  4. Discuss how other teachers are using technology tools and techniques – 95.5%
  5. Assess the effectiveness of different tools and techniques – 94.8%
  6. Focus on improving learning outcomes – 94.7%
  7. Teach me about productivity tools for the classroom – 86.3%
  8. Help me understand what NOT to do when teaching with technology – 84.6%
  9. Introduce and explain professional development resources – 84.2%

If we look at just the highest selections among the “Strongly Agree” responses – over 60% of respondents chose that specific response for choices 1, 2, 3, and 5 above.

The survey also received about a dozen “Other” responses, which varied widely. Some of these included focusing on higher education, providing more demographics for tool use and trends, side by side tool comparisons, homeschooling, assessing online teaching, and where to find grants. These are all great topics, so thank you to everyone who took the time to provide these specific responses!

“What Technologies Are You Most Interested In Learning More About”

Most of the technologies listed received between 70% and 90% positive responses, which probably reflects the fact that many of the educators who are online and willing to embrace technology want to learn more and get exposed to a wide variety of technologies and tools. Here’s how these break down:

Survey Results Most Interested in Learning More About

Conclusions (and Gift Card Winner!)

So, rolling together these findings, it looks to me like there are plenty of educators out there who want to keep learning about different ways to increase engagement using collaborative, active, and mobile learning. It’s pretty awesome to see this implied awareness of the value of active learning pursuits (interesting how it fits in with last week’s post on Learning Science + Technology = Education 3.0). These results are really encouraging. Now the question is … how do we encourage more teachers to get engaged with the possibilities that today’s technology can offer?

We’ll be following this up soon with a look at responses to the question, “What Are Your Biggest Challenges as an Educator?” in our next post.

In closing, allow me to congratulate the winner of the $50 Amazon Gift Card! I had my daughter pick a random number from across the range of recipients and congrats are due to (drum roll …) Stephanie Tingley from Youngstown State University in Ohio! Thanks so much to all of you who took the survey and provided this valuable feedback!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 Tech Savvy Teaching Tools That Your Students Will Love and Your Peers Will Envy
Bringing Together Learning Science and Technology to Envision “Education 3.0”
20 Warning Signs That you are Falling Behind the Times with Technology as a Teacher

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Boudreau April 25, 2014 at 9:03 pm

One more thought — a single comprehensive and timely education data standard that ensures usability is key to the success of these programs. States need to take advantage of the data analysis that is being made available, turning education data into actionable information that can transform the future of our workforce.

Linda Boudreau
http://www.DataLadder.com

Linda Boudreau April 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Great post, thanks for sharing. Technology in relation to data science is also impacting education significantly. Data-driven decision making is making a serious impact on the future of student achievement, especially with SLDS/P-20 initiatives. Data science can be applied to many domains of knowledge; in education, the ability to identify problem areas and link important data sets in order to make better decisions for the future of our students and teachers will be important.

Linda Boudreau
Data Ladder

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