Classroom Technology Access High, But Use Low, Report Says

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A report from AdvancED states that despite widespread use of digital tools such as tablets, smartphones, laptops and digital education content throughout the nation, findings suggest that students are not using these devices for classroom learning, even in areas where classrooms are well-equipped:

"After conducting over 140,000 direct classroom observations in K-12 schools in the U.S. and across the globe, AdvancED has uncovered that there are still relatively few classrooms in which students' use of digital tools and technology is a regular part of a student's school experience."

The report, "The Paradox of Classroom Technology: Despite Proliferation and Access, Students Not Using Technology for Learning," states that despite a number of examples in which students across the country are using technology to further their learning, such examples are almost nonexistent within the classroom.

Researchers analyzed three years of direct K-12 classroom observations in 39 states and 11 countries for the study. Few classrooms were found that make use of technology as a regular part of a student's educational experience, with more than half, 52.7%, showing no such evidence of technology to collect, evaluate, or use information for learning. In addition, 75% of classrooms were found to not use technology to solve problems, conduct research, or perform group work.

Classroom observations are performed by trained and certified observers for AdvancED as a part of the continuous improvement process. Each observation lasts for a total of 20 minutes. In that time, observers use the learner-centric eProve Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool that allows them to collect data pertaining to the activities that learners are engaging in, as well as their discussions and interactions, the resources they use for learning, and their behaviors and dispositions throughout the learning process. In total, there are 30 ELEOT items that observers rate on a four-point scale, with four being "very evident" and one being "not observed."

Three such items specifically focus on student technology use, including the use of digital tools to collect, evaluate, or use the information for learning; using technology to conduct research or solve problems; and using technology to communicate or work collaboratively.

Of those, 52.7% of classrooms observed did not show evidence of collecting information for learning through digital tools. In addition, 63.3% did not show evidence of using digital tools to conduct research, and 64.6% did not show evidence of using digital tools to complete group work.

Author Ludwig van Broekhuizen states that teacher support for technology use is increasingly important in order to allow the effective integration of technology within lessons, as well as for collaboration between teachers and students. He states that technology has the power to become the "great equalizer" as long as students have access to technology both in and outside of the classroom setting.

He states that teachers need the support and training to understand how to integrate technology into their classrooms and begin to see technology as a help, rather than a hindrance, that could be used inappropriately by students.

"When students are genuinely engaged in their learning around topics that connect to their lives and interest them, they are much less inclined to engage in off-task behaviors with or without access to technology. It is when students lose themselves in their learning that we have accomplished what we set out to do for them in the first place."

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