While we could debate forever the most effective classroom applications and how much schools can or will spend on technology, an online survey of about 500 educators by information technology advocacy association CompTIA points to one simple another impact that may be overlooked: student productivity.
The study, called IT Opportunities in the Education Market, found that approximately two-thirds of educators believe students are more productive today than three years ago due to the use of technology. A higher percentage, close to 80 percent, agreed that technology has had a ‘net positive’ impact on overall education results, processes and performances.
Some context: I was inspired to write this post at this particular moment during the holiday weekend because sitting about 10 feet away from me is my friend’s 15-year-old daughter, who just finished uploading some information for a summer class she is taking to fulfill her physical education requirements for next year. This teenager could use an extra study period during the school year, so she has arranged to do some work in the summer as a result.
But “summer school” isn’t the same as when I was a child: when it meant sitting in a steamy classroom while all your friends were at the beach or at the town. Technology has enabled motivated students like this girl to keep her brain AND body active during her summer vacation.
Which technology do educators believe have been most transformative? Without question, it seems to be wireless networks or access. According to the CompTIA study, 80 percent of schools are supported by wireless service today.
Another technology that will get more attention in the year to come is classroom management software. Approximately 70 percent of teachers say they are using this sort of application or are planning to do so within the next 12 months. That’s good news for schools who want their teachers to spend more time engaging with students; the theory is that this sort of software will help them cut down on the administrative processes that we all know can get in the way of the education process.
The not-so-good news, of course, is that most states aren’t exactly flush with cash right now. Among the obstacles to deploying technologies in an education setting are budget cuts and capital expenditures. What’s more, approximately one-quarter of the teachers and one-third of the administrators expect that climate to get worse in the coming year.
So it will take creative solutions — and emerging technologies that can help cut other costs — to get the right technologies in place. Two examples of technologies that fit the bill, according to the study, are cloud computing and unified communications. For example, the CompTIA research found that one in four institutions at the higher education level had adopted or were planning to adopt cloud computing services in the next year. Among K-12 schools, approximately one in four plan to deploy unified communications technologies within the next 12 months, the CompTIA research found.