How do teachers use technology?

Pew Internet and American Life recently published a report on How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in the Classroom. The good news is that teachers seem to be using technology…

Asked about the impact of the internet and digital tools in their role as middle and high school educators, these teachers say the following about the overall impact on their teaching and their classroom work:

  • 92% of these teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching

  • 69% say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with other teachers

  • 67% say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to interact with parents and 57% say it has had such an impact on enabling their interaction with students

I was surprised how many use phones in the classroom…

  • 73% of AP and NWP teachers say that they and/or their students use their mobile phones in the classroom or to complete assignments

  • 45% report they or their students use e-readers and 43% use tablet computers in the classroom or to complete assignments

The bad news is that there seems to be quite a gap between use in wealthier versus low-income communities…

In addition, they report that there are striking differences in the role of technology in wealthier school districts compared with poorer school districts and that there are clear generational differences among teachers when it comes to their comfort with technology and its use in their classrooms.

Interesting to see the difference between urban and rural teachers…

Teachers of the lowest income students are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to the digital tools they need, both in school and at home. In terms of community type, teachers in urban areas are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to digital tools IN SCHOOL, while rural teachers are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access AT HOME.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

3 thoughts on “How do teachers use technology?

  1. One of the problems I see is the access to the contacts to leverage technology as much as the access to the physical technology itself. Let me explain. I once tried to explain to a radio talk show host that getting schools wired (Cat 5 or Cat6, or Coaxial cable) for the Internet is easy. Getting them the actual connectivity to the Internet (ISP, Access Devices, DSL Modems, DOCSIS Modems, FTTP Terminals) is harder, the hardest task of all is getting access to equipment (Computers, Switches, Routers) that are not old and worn out. I went through the Washington DC public school system K-11, 12 (this is a long story), which was no picnic, the books were old, the equipment was even older. One thing got me through all of this with some sense of optimism and understanding, was the thought of one day being able to correct all of this. Well, as an adult who is in the industry, and has even in some small way has had an effect on the field of technology, I am still at a lost when it comes to this subject because I now have both sides of the story. On one side, any wiring or connectivity to the Internet for public schools is going to have to be controlled by the state (installed by state personnel); private industry should not have to support public interest, unless the private companies supporting the government are going to get something out of it (incentives).
    Now, support of and providing equipment for the project is the hardest part of this process. As I said I went to public schools during most of my educational career, and let’s just say as hard as it is for me to admit this, but I went to school with some real “posterior orifices” (feel free to omit this if you must). You, know, the guys who steal stuff just because it is there. If you do supply equipment to the public schools you better expect for most of it to end up damaged or stolen, sounds harsh right. Well, it is a reality of life; people who are poor are more likely to steal (to support themselves) than those who are not poor, is it Politically Correct? No, it is not, but as a person who learned to sleep on his back so that if anybody broke in to the house, I would be prepared to take action, I tend to have a unique perspective on this. The question from me is How will someone guarantee or assure the safety and continued functionality of the equipment? If not is the school system prepared to support the replacement of the equipment? If these questions are answered then how will the teacher being supportive of the class manage system upkeep and teach the class, or will a private firm maintain the equipment? So many questions before the first paths are put in.

  2. Henry,

    Thanks for your unique perspective. Last month I was touring various schools, community centers and other places and this came up as well – in terms of the portability and walkability of iPads. Not being on the frontlines, I must admit I don’t give it much thought.

    It is a tough conundrum – I think attractive equipment may walk away in all neighborhoods, but some are better able to recover from the loss. I remember someone having equipment that only worked within the walls of the school or something like that but that doesn’t seem very practical.

    Maybe the next generation buildings will be smarter – that may help – but that help will be tomorrow not today. Maybe someone reading this will have some ideas for today.

    Thanks for a thoughtful comment! Ann

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