Teachers & Classroom Technology

by Amanda Davis, HFID Student at Bentley University

Technology in the classroom has come a long way. In the 1980s, teachers began using desktop PCs. Since then, education technology has expanded to include the internet, blogging and websites, laptops, podcasts, e-learning platforms such as Blackboard, interactive whiteboards and digital notebooks. Press coverage of the latest technology frequently declares that this technology will revolutionize education. Beyond the hype, what are the trends for technology adoption in the classroom? What enables or limits this adoption?

In the fall of 2008, an estimated 100% of public schools had one or more instructional computers with internet access; the ratio of students to instructional computers with internet access was 3.1 to 1 [1]. Over the 10 year span from 1995 to 2005, the percentage of schools with internet access rose from 8% to 97% [2]. 23% of all public school teachers have an interactive whiteboard in their classroom and 4% have a handheld device [3]. As of 2009, according to the Institute of Education Sciences’ survey Teachers’ Use of Education Technology in U.S. Public Schools, 40% of public school teachers ‘often’ use computers during instructional time during the day. 29% of public school teachers say ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ [4].

The high percentage of classrooms not using computers or the internet for instructional purposes, despite access, is alarming; numerous studies link the use of technology and higher student achievements. A 2005 study by Gulek and Demirtas, Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement, showed students with immersive laptop experiences earn significantly higher test scores and grades for writing, English-language arts, mathematics, and overall Grade Point Averages (GPAs) [5].

he Microsoft Corporation project, Anytime Anywhere Learning Project showed students in classrooms providing all students with their own laptops spend more time involved in collaborative work, participate in more project-based instruction, produce writing of higher quality and greater length, gain increased access to information, improve research analysis skills, and spend more time doing homework on computers [6].

A number of factors come into play for the adoption rate of education technology. According to Wilson et al in Adoption Factors and Processes, the main factors in technology adoption include: technology’s design and usability, the fit with local culture and practices, the associated costs, and the expected benefits of adoption [7].

As we approach Usability Day 2011, we should consider the variable we control – as designers and usability professionals – in increasing education technology adoption. We can improve the design and usability of systems, making it more appealing for teachers, parents and students to adopt. We can design products that help ease teachers’ transitions from traditional technologies to higher technologies. If we are able to do our part in increasing adoption rates and therefore student achievement, the next generation will be better off for it.

[1] "Fast Facts." National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Web. 14 July 2011. 

[2] "Number and Internet Access of Instructional Computers and Rooms in Public Schools, by Selected School Characteristics: Selected Years, 1995 through 2008." National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Web. 14 July 2011.

[3] “Teachers’ Use of Education Technology in U.S. Public Schools.” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Web. 14 July 2011.

[4] “Teachers’ Use of Education Technology in U.S. Public Schools.” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Web. 14 July 2011.

[5] “Learning with Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement.” The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment. Volume 3, Number 2. January 2005.

[6] “Anytime, Anywhere Learning: Final Evaluation Report of the Laptop Program: Year 3.” The University of Memphis, December 2033.

[7] “Adoption Factors and Processes.” Information and Learning Technologies, University of Colorado at Denver.

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