Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Teachers More Fluent in Digital Technologies than the Broader Population

If today’s typical classroom—with chalkboards, paper books, and other artifacts from the age of John Stuart Mill—seems like a terribly old-fashioned way to educate children, don’t blame the teachers. A recently released survey by the Pew Internet and American Life project found that today’s teachers are heavy technology users compared with the broader population, that they are better versed in digital technologies, and that humanities teachers actually use digital technologies in their classrooms more often than do math teachers.

Age plays a key difference in how teachers use digital technologies. Nearly half of teachers under the age of 35 said they have their students develop a Web site, wiki, or blog, or at least share their work online, compared with 34% of teachers over the age of 55. Younger teachers were also more likely to encourage the use of Web-based collaborative tools like GoogleDocs.

Surprisingly, teachers of language arts and social studies were almost twice as likely to have their students use online tools or participate in an online forum as were math teachers.

Teachers of all age groups were more likely to own a smart phone than the general public (58% versus 45%), to use a laptop (93% versus 61%), and to use a social networking site (78% versus 69%).

A large majority of surveyed teachers expressed concern that the digital divide seemed to be growing. Students from more-affluent households clearly had more access to digital technologies outside of the classroom than did other students.
In short, today’s education system may not be keeping up with technology, but it’s not the fault of teachers.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project