Edweek discusses a June report released by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers that surveyed close to 2,000 K-12 public school educators from across the US. It finds that although there have been increases in technology in schools overall, there are still “significant disparities” when it comes to access to computer tools and networks. It also reportst that while many schools have computers, they are often out of date and unreliable. Here are some more statistics that are reported:
- 83% of educators report having 5 or fewer computers in the classroom; > than half report no more than 2.
- > half surveyed use computers for daily administrative tasks
- about half use them to daily communicate with other educators (communicate what?)
- about 40% use technology to monitor student progress (electronic gradebook?)
- about 37% use technology for research and information gathering
- about 32% use it to teach lessons
- < a fifth of teachers surveyed use technology daily to post student and class information online or to communicate with parents electronically.
- a majority feel that professional development that they received was most effective for noninstructional tasks (hence, the second bullet point here)
- a majority were “highly optimistic about the impact of technology on their jobs and on their students” and that technology positively impacted student motivation
- 89% said they view technology as essential to teaching and learning.
What’s missing here?
- No mention of teacher personal learning networks to share and collaborate
- No mention of teachers using technology to further their own professional development
- No mention of students using computers for learning in powerful ways
- No mention of students using networks for collaborative learning
What I find most curious is that the survey itself is so minimalistic in terms of what technology can bring to the teacher-learner. If focuses on access and administrative tool use, research, and teachnolgy as a teaching tool. It does not see the larger picture of the need for systemic change, the need for lifelong teacher learning and growth, and the full potential of networks and computer technologies. What is sad is that it would appear that we, in general, are failing at such a basic level. Although there are certainly pockets of innovation and change, they are not sweeping in scope. Here is a quotation from the report’s executive summary:
“The findings of this study reveal that although all educators and students in public schools
have some access to computers and the Internet, we have few assurances that they are able to
use technology effectively for teaching and learning.”
Well, that’s certainly less than encouragine, isn’t it.
So, we have schools lacking in current tools, lacking in networked access, lacking in professional development, lacking in vision, lacking in systemic change, and overwhelmed with the incredibly diverse burdents placed upon them. What do we need then? Leaders. We need leaders who are willing to put their necks and reputations on the line district by district, building by building. We need leaders who have a powerful vision of what learning can and should be and who can effectively communicate it to others. We need leaders who can inspire by example. We need leaders who reward risk-taking. We need leaders who understand the learning potential afforded by new tools and learning networks. We need leaders who understand what meaningful learning is and looks like. We need leaders (at all levels, including governmental) who value all forms of assessment – not just formal standardized assessments. We need leaders to support urban schools. We need leaders who understand the value all pedagogies. We need leaders who help their teachers be all that they can be.
We need LEADERSHIP. Without it, we will continue fulfilling this report’s outlook – “The findings of this study reveal that although all educators and students in public schools have some access to computers and the Internet, we have few assurances that they are able to use technology effectively for teaching and learning.”