Are schools prepared for the digital classroom?

Are schools prepared for the digital classroom?

Six out of ten (65 percent) teachers and school administrators from across the country attending the ASCD Critical Transformation Show & Conference believe the printed textbook will soon be completely replaced by interactive and e-learning tools, according to a survey sponsored by CompassLearning during the three-day conference ending today, March 8th.

The survey, which was conducted by market research firm PURSUIT among a random sampling of 287 educators at the conference, echoes findings from a recent report by the Gates Foundation and Scholastic in which only 12 percent of teachers see improved academic achievement through traditional textbooks.

However, this new study shows not nearly as many teachers as school administrators see the demise of the traditional textbook. While 73 percent of administrators at the school and district level say the textbook is becoming a thing of the past, only 53 percent of teachers share the same opinion.

Even so, teachers and administrators alike do not believe they are adequately prepared for student needs in the digital age. In fact, 70 percent believe their schools and districts are only somewhat prepared for necessary adaptations to the classroom.

Both an expectation of a shift to e-learning tools in the classroom and a sense of not being prepared are highest in the South. Three out of four (75 percent) educators from southern states believe the textbook is going away and 78 percent report their school districts in the South are only “somewhat prepared,” the highest across all regions.

Adaptation of Technology in the Classroom is Important
Educators know change is coming. Most (68 percent) say that by 2015 at least 60 percent of instruction time in the classroom will involve interactive and e-learning methods. Nearly a third (31 percent) believe it will be as much as 80 percent or higher.

Not surprisingly, almost all attendees interviewed say the use of e-learning tools in the classroom must increase (91 percent), and that the adaptation of such technology in the classroom is “extremely” or “very” important (92 percent).

“Conference attendees are clear in their recognition of the needs of today’s students and they see real opportunity for improvement,” says Maury Giles, Principal at PURSUIT. “Many we interviewed wanted to talk more about the methods they are testing, and even indicated it was a key reason they were at the conference.”

Educators Want to Learn about Technology
Not surprisingly, “technology in the classroom” and ‘instructional technology” were considered two of the most important topics conference goers expected to learn more about. In all, the conference highlighted 10 issues. The other most important topics were ‘assessment and evaluation” and ‘professional development.'”

A majority of conference attendees believe help is on the way in federal stimulus funding earmarked for enhancing education through technology. Sixty-three percent say their district plans to use the money to increase the use of e-learning tools in the classroom.

Connecting Beyond the Classroom
Attendees also want to use educational technology beyond the school day. Eight in ten (81 percent) say it is important to make such tools available to students and parents outside of the classroom and into their homes.

“Consistently, attendees noted that their students are immersed in technology outside of the classroom and that this is an opportunity to extend the learning period beyond the school bell,” says Giles.

Many educators are already using social networking tools to make such connections. Nearly half (43 percent) of teachers interviewed have a YouTube account and many report using it to share video content with students. Three out of four (73 percent) of teachers say they have a Facebook account, 23 percent have a Twitter account, and 19 percent have a MySpace account.

Whether using these tools today or not, a clear majority of educators at the conference (74 percent) believe teachers should be more engaged with students and parents through social networking tools.