More than three-quarters of top education officials around the world believe technology can play a major role in how students learn and how teachers educate, according to a global survey commissioned by Cisco and conducted by Clarus Research Group, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm.
Telephone interviews were conducted with 500 education administrators and information technology decision-makers in 14 countries on five continents. The countries surveyed were Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. One half of the survey respondents were K-12 school officials, and half were college and university officials.
Critical Teaching and Learning Issues
The survey shows that educators across the globe see three critical learning issues:
Preparing students to compete in a global economy and helping to ensure their employability after graduation were cited by 83 percent of respondents as key concerns. Today's students need a core school program that prepares them to engage in an increasingly connected ecosystem, requiring an understanding of how to use technology to compete effectively and become productive members of tomorrow's workforce.
Most educators, 85 percent, see technology playing a "large role" in how students learn. They also cited the impact technology can have in encouraging student engagement and participation.
The need for programs and curriculum that enable students to develop skills in team and project-based learning was noted by 86 percent of the educators. Improved communications with parents, faculty and staff is considered critical.
Importance of Key Technology Issues
Internet abuse, collaboration, and cybersecurity are top technology issues.
Educators rated protecting students from Internet abuse very high; close behind were using technologies to collaborate better, developing stronger cybersecurity on campus, and using technology to reduce administrative expenses.
Increasing efficiency, using more video, and broadening data-driven assessments were also highly rated.
The survey revealed that educators also see technology as a means to "do more with less" and to become more efficient. They are also aggressive with plans to implement more video and embed the technology and media in the learning process. They are also seeking more impact from investments in data-driven assessments and decision-making systems.
College officials across the globe want expanded online international education.
Looking ahead five years, 65 percent of the college and university officials surveyed say online international programs are a "major opportunity" for them, as those can result in a greater "virtual" student body and can enrich learning opportunities by diversifying faculty, students and expert viewpoints.
Education and a Networked Economy
These survey results point to a new "connected learning" networked economy, which calls for technology skills development to increase global competitiveness within education. Technology can address these educators' concerns in many ways; for example:
By personalizing teaching and learning to address the level of proficiency of each student rather than leaving students behind or going at the pace of the slowest learner. Teachers have found that using networked PC or online approaches to teaching math allows the students to progress at their own pace, freeing teachers to focus on students who need more help on a given concept.
Technology can provide innovative approaches to education while reducing the overall cost of providing education. For example, using telepresence to educate remotely improves accessibility, reducing the cost of delivering education to all students.
Video and collaboration technologies are rapidly allowing educators to be more effective and productive in teaching, anytime, anywhere. This can increase productivity by reducing travel between schools or even countries, decreasing the cost of travel downtime. "Presence" technology is becoming an emerging factor in teacher training and staff development areas; at the same time, increasing the availability of collaboration tools is fostering new "project-based" learning environments.
What are educators in regions around the world finding most important to them?
A heavy majority of education officials across the Asia-Pacific region believe that improved communications with students is a top priority. Investing in improved research infrastructure and capabilities was also key. Education officials in this region believe technology will play a critical role in preparing the workforce of the future.
European education officials see funding, online security, a greater international presence, and stronger research capabilities and infrastructure as chief concerns. Additionally, 68 percent of top European college and university officials say online international curricula are a "major opportunity" to expand learning programs, globally.
Senior education officials in emerging markets see preparation for a global economy, student attendance, and employability as the top teaching issues they face today. Among all the regions of the world, Latin America rated highest on overall aspirations for education and the positive effect it can have on society.
A survey of similar attitudes conducted in 2010 found that among U.S. educators:
More than half (53 percent) of the administrators and information technology decision-makers in K-12 institutions, community colleges and universities say they are likely to invest in video technology over the next year to make their schools "more effective and efficient."
Most respondents (84 percent) believe that technology will play a large role in "improving how students learn."
A similar number (82 percent) believe that technology will play a large role in "helping prepare students for the workforce of the future."
After "retaining good students" -- which ranked first -- U.S. respondents feel that the most important administrative and strategic issues facing schools are:
o Communicating better with students and parents
o Providing physical safety on campus
o Providing online network security
o Taking advantage of new technology
o Improving the ability of teachers to use technology, media and computing tools
o Communicating better with faculty and staff