More Teachers Use Tech For Administration Than Actually Teach With It

Closing the gap between administrative and instructional use in grades K-12 appears to be more a question of where computers are located in the school, as opposed to just the number of computers available, a new study says.
Seventy-six percent of teachers in a recent survey believe that computers are essential teaching tools but more use technology for administrative purposes than for instruction.

CDW Government Inc. released results of its 2005 Teachers Talk Tech survey Monday. The survey, which polled 1,000 randomly chosen K-12 public school teachers across the country in March and April 2005, found that more than 70 percent of teachers believe computers are important drivers of student learning.

"Sixty percent of teachers believe that students' academic performance improves with the use of classroom computers, but just 38 percent say they have the right balance of computers to students in their classrooms," Chris Rother, CDW-G's vice president for education, state and local sales, said in a statement. "Closing the gap between administrative use and instructional use appears to be more a question of where computers are located, as opposed to just the number of computers available.

Only 54 percent of respondents said they integrate computers into their daily curriculum, and more than 61 percent of teachers said they don't have enough computers in their classrooms. More than half of teachers believe there should be one computer for each student, and nearly one third say there should be one computer for every five students, according to the third annual survey.

"In the feedback we have received, teachers have told us that when they have three or four students sharing one computer, then they start chitchatting about other things and they're not really focused on getting their work done," Rother said in an interview Monday. "If a school can bring in some wireless carts and teachers can check the carts out for their schedule, so the entire class can be online together, it makes class management that much easier and makes it appear that the ratio is better."

Elementary school teachers were the most likely to use computers for instruction, and are 20 percent more likely to have access to computers in the classroom than their counterparts in middle schools and high schools, according to CDW-G a subsidiary of Vernon Hills, Ill.-based CDW Corporation.

"Where we have seen it be successful, typically it's in a school with a pioneering teacher who promotes it to their peers, where it's almost viral," Rother said.

E-mail, attendance and posting information on school intranets are popular among teachers, with 86 percent reporting those activities. Seventy percent of teachers in middle schools and high schools e-mail parents, and 52 percent use intranets for attendance.

More than 85 percent of teachers said they are well trained on Internet, word processing and e-mail software, but 27 percent have little or no training on integrating computers into instruction.

"While the resulting productivity improvements are good news for educators and administrators, the focus on administrative applications may reduce efforts to leverage technology to improve classroom instruction and learning," Roth said.

The study also found that the impact of technology on teaching styles increases with tenure, indicating little or no resistance to technology in the classrooms of more experienced teachers.

Time spent on teacher technology training did not increase from 2004 to 2005, but the number of teachers rating their computer skills as "advanced or expert" nearly tripled from 6 percent to 17.5 percent. About 30 percent of teachers said they had no technology training in 2004 or 2005, but less than 3 percent rated themselves as "beginners."

Nearly all teachers (93 percent) said they believe administrators support technology in schools.