Technology

Software Group: Schools Aren't Keeping Up With Teachers' Tech Desires

By / Jul 2, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

According to new survey results from the Software and Information Industry Association, there’s often a big gap between where educators want their schools to be with technology offerings and where they actually are, especially when it comes to bandwidth and devices.

The buzz around the role of technology in education is growing, but, according to one association, the resources aren’t always there.

The latest edition of the Software and Information Industry Association’s (SIIA) “Vision K‐20 Survey,” released Monday, highlights the issue, noting that online testing, in particular, is still a challenge for roughly three-fifths of educators surveyed. Part of the problem? Not enough internet bandwidth and not enough devices for students.

“The survey indicates that educators in both K-12 and postsecondary have a desire to integrate technology at a much higher level than they currently have, but need support and assistance to make that happen,” SIIA states in the report’s summary [PDF]. “As technology evolves and technology solutions expand, there may be new opportunities to reach ideal goals with more cost-effective and less hardware-dependent solutions.”

Among the study’s other findings:

Educators want better technology integration: Teachers often want a level of tech integration that’s far from where their institution actually is. Some of the biggest gaps are in assessments, technology training for educators, and online tutoring. (Some tech players, such as Google, are working to correct this problem.)

Bandwidth not keeping up: At postsecondary institutions, internet bandwidth is not meeting the ever-increasing demand for fast connections. This is holding back some of the more high-profile uses of technology, such as virtual classes and interactive software. “2014 results indicate that K-12 participants may be experiencing unequal access to adequate bandwidth, and postsecondary participants may be aware that bandwidth is not meeting the increasing needs at their institutions,” the study states.

Safety near the top of the list: Even though schools are lacking in many other categories, they’re doing the best with prioritizing safety. Two security-related issues—protecting data and protecting privacy—rank near the top of the list for both K-12 and postsecondary respondents.

BYOD matters for K-12, too: While the numbers vary based on the type of school, many institutions are learning to embrace the bring-your-own-device trend, with half of all secondary schools supporting it in 2014, and more than 80 percent of districts preparing to allow mobile devices within the next five years. But that doesn’t mean that all types of mobile devices are supported across the board: E-readers, tablets, and laptops are generally OK for many districts, but smartphones are less so.

Ultimately, the study emphasizes that for all the weak points, educational institutions are doing a lot right—and aspire to do even better.

“This year’s survey results show an increase in many metrics. The need for more educational technology continues to expand,” MMS Education CEO Susan Meell said in an SIIA news release. “Educators recognize the importance and express the desire to implement more digital learning in schools, districts, and universities nationwide.”

The full report is available on the SIIA website [PDF].

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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