By Nigel Roberts, NewsOne
Students in low-income school districts face another challenge in closing the digital divide.
An Education Week survey found that teachers who are least confident about education technology tend to work in high-poverty and urban schools.
The study, based on a survey of 700 teachers, is part of a larger survey on educators’ perspectives on the present and future status of educational technology in K-12 schools. Overall, the main study found that teachers “face systemic challenges in adapting their instruction to new technologies in transformative ways.”
Teachers who are less confident about classroom technology are less likely to use a range of classroom technology tools, compared to teachers in more affluent school districts who expose their students to the latest computer applications.
The teachers who are dubious about education tech also reported greater barriers to using technology in the classroom. These barriers include too few computer devices in school, a lack of teacher training, and not enough guidance from school leaders.
These findings, according to the researchers, “offer yet another reason to worry about the evolving digital divide in K-12.”
The Pew Research Center quantified an aspect of the divide dubbed the “homework gap.” Pew estimated last year that about 5 million households with school-age children can’t afford Internet service.
With many teachers giving assignments that require internet access, not having broadband at home creates a significant disadvantage, which the researchers say disproportionately affects Black and Latino children. President Barack Obama has proposed an initiative called ConnectALL to address that issue.
Education Week’s survey painted a picture of these teachers who have no confidence in classroom technology.
Surprisingly, they are no different from the teachers working in affluent school districts: Both groups of educators largely embrace innovation; they have similar demographic backgrounds, and have comparable experience levels.
So, what made the difference? It was the teaching environment that influenced the educators’ perceptions, according to the researchers.