Teachers Report ‘Major Impact’ of Internet on Learning

By Victoria O'Dea & Mike Bock — February 28, 2013 1 min read
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The vast majority of middle and high school teachers who are involved in more high-level educational programs such as Advanced Placement and the National Writing Project say the Internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content and resources for their teaching, according to the results of a survey released today.

Technology plays a central role in their teaching and the development of their professional skills, but it also presents challenges for teachers, concludes a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, which examined how teachers are using digital technologies in the classroom and at home.

The survey—taken by 2,462 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers who instruct middle and high school students across the country, primarily in public schools—found that 92 percent of those surveyed said the Web has a major impact on their ability to teach.

“On the whole, we really came away feeling that teachers are pretty advanced in terms of tech use,” Kristen Purcell, director of research for the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, told Education Week.

In fact, the teachers in the survey tended to outpace the U.S. adult population in their use of digital technologies at work and home. According to the survey, a higher percentage of teachers own devices such as smartphones and e-book readers than the general adult population, and the teachers are more likely than typical adults to use social networking tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter. For instance, 78 percent of the teacher reported using social networking tools, compared with 59 percent of all adults, and 47 percent of the teachers own e-book readers, compared with 19 percent for all adults.

The report also revealed generational differences regarding teachers’ use of digital technologies:

  • 64 percent of teachers under age 35 describe themselves as “very confident” using digital technologies, compared with 44 percent of teachers age 55 and older
  • The oldest teachers are more than twice as likely as those under age 35 (59 percent vs. 23 percent) to say their students know more than they do about using the newest digital tools

But many teachers point out that age or even previous experience with technology should not prevent educators from learning how to integrate it effectively into their classrooms. It’s more about a willingness to learn and to innovate, they say.

Jennie Magiera, a 4th and 5th grade math teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, told Education Week: “I don’t think experience with technology immediately corresponds to success with technology in the classroom.”

The full report can be found here.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.