Public school educators today are bridging the digital divide unlike ever before with 90 percent of school districts using electronic white boards in almost every district school, 64 percent of districts providing schools with wireless Internet access, and more than 60 percent of districts using document cameras.
According to a new survey by MCH Strategic Data, 54 percent of U.S. school districts surveyed use tablet computers and e-readers or both with an additional 10 percent expressing plans to purchase the devices in the next year or two. This finding makes tablet computers and e-readers the fastest growing of the technologies surveyed.
The data was obtained during telephone interviews with representatives from 34 percent of public school districts (5,146 districts). These districts represent almost 34 percent of public school students nationwide. MCH conducts studies involving K-12 and early childhood education school programs, and other social institutions.
“The digital tools available to teachers and students today are endless,” says Daniele Massey, who teaches math at Vilseck Public High School located in the U.S. Army Garrison at Grafenwoehr, Germany. “We have access to social media, e-mail, video teleconferencing … all types of digital innovations.”
According to the survey, 47 percent of school districts use distance learning in some capacity, while only 21 percent have Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs in which students use their own devices in the classroom. Cloud computing and Student Response Systems (SRS) clickers were also present in about 50 percent of districts surveyed.
Massey, 35, says incorporating SRS clickers, e-readers, smartphones, and laptops as teaching tools is important in reaching today’s students who have grown up with most of these digital devices.
“In today’s classroom, a teacher’s ability to connect with students has become much easier with the use of technology,” she says. “There’s no turning back.”
Massey has been teaching for nine years. Over the last several years, she started using the “flipped mastery classroom” style of teaching where students watch online video lectures at home on their own time. Class time is reserved for solving math equations independently, in small peer groups, or one-on-one with a teacher. Massey creates her videos with the SMART recorder on her SMART board.
“The flipped style incorporates the technology into the learning process,” she says. “The technology is not just an “item of the week.” It’s not just a trend.”
At Vilseck, the use of digital technology in Massey’s classroom has shown results: in the first year, math exam scores improved by nine percent and the number of failures decreased progressively each quarter.
Massey has a blog on her Web site for students and parents to ask questions and make comments. The Web site is another progressive way she uses new technology to interact with students, some of whom, she says, suffer from math anxiety.
“Some of my students, like many others, cringe at the thought of learning math,” says Massey, a member of NEA’s Oberpfalz Federal Education Association. “Technology helps to alleviate their fears and engage them in innovative ways.”
A copy of the survey results can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.