September 21, 2017

Schools and Tech: Not There Yet

By Walter Minkel

In a recent study, technology coordinators from more than 800 school districts across the nation told interviewers that many teachers are still unprepared on how to integrate technology into classroom instruction. The study, entitled “Are We There Yet? Research and Guidelines on Schools’ Use of the Internet,” was conducted by the National School Boards Foundation and sponsored by AT&T, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Plato Learning, Inc. Meanwhile, many school districts have made great strides in joining the digital age by installing computers and wiring classrooms. However, schools need to bridge great barriers before realizing a return on their investments in technology, and the biggest barrier is the task of training teachers to use computers and the Net in their daily work with students.

Particularly vexing for school librarians, who often play a central role in linking technology to the curriculum, was their omission from the study. Although research and searchi
ng—two of librarians’ core areas of expertise and teaching—were cited among the most oft-used functions of technology in the school, their connection to librarians was never mentioned.

Ninety technology coordinators interviewed were from the largest 100 school districts (25,000 students and up), while 398 represented medium-sized districts (2,500 to 24,999 students), and 323 were from districts with less than 2,499 students.

Schools need to work on expanding the use of the Internet for both teaching and learning, the survey says. The Internet is still viewed primarily as a research tool. Conversely, 63 percent of those surveyed said they are offering Internet-based staff development.

Robin Thurman, director of the National School Boards Foundation, found “kids knowing more about technology than teachers” particularly interesting. The study, which also contains strategies for maximizing technology budgets, is available at