A Snapshot of the Implementation of Education Related Technology

in Nebraskaís P-12 Schools

 

Executive Summary of Preliminary Findings

 

Dr. Neal W. Topp, Dr. Neal Grandgenett, Dr. Robert Mortenson

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Dr. Cathleen Norris, University of North Texas

Dr. Elliot Soloway, University of Michigan

 

Introduction[1]

 

Nebraska educators are moving to integrate computer and Internet technology into the curriculum in schools and classrooms around the state. In order to get a picture of how this implementation is progressing, we invited the approximately 23,000 educators to log onto the Internet and take the Nebraska Educational Technology Snapshot Survey. In the 10 days of this Internet-based event, 14% of Nebraska teachers and administrators volunteered responses to the survey.Ý

 

The snapshot provided by these data is clear; Nebraska is making definite progress towards having K-12 school children use computers and the Internet.

 

But, it is also clear that educators feel that lack of access to the technology is still a major stumbling block. While Internet links are available in the classrooms, more computers are needed. And, while teachers are comfortable with operating the technology, they now indicate they need time to focus on integrating the technology into the curricula.

 

In what follows, then, we first describe how the snapshot survey was conducted and then we present additional findings from the Snapshot Survey.

 

The Snapshot Survey Process

 

This snapshot survey of Nebraska was a cooperative venture, including the Office of Internet Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Texas Center for Educational Technology at the University of North Texas, and the Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education at the University of Michigan.Ý It was sponsored in part by the Nebraska Department of Education and the Nebraska Educational Service Units.Ý This project was designed to survey educators during a 10 day period (February 11-20, 2000) and report on the data within a few days.Ý This short timeframe is important because of the rapid changes in technology.Ý

 

In order to encourage the educators of the state to complete the survey, the educational service unit sent emails, posted Web page notices, and made announcements in newsletters.Ý In addition, paper flyers were distributed to all schools to be placed in each teacherís school mailbox.

 

Over 3100 Nebraska educators completed the survey, with over 2350 teachers, as well as 250 administrators and 500 school support staff.Ý Responding educators were from all parts of the state, all school sizes, and all grade levels.Ý

 

Educators Beliefs about Technology in Education

 

Nebraska educators clearly see that technology is playing a key role in teaching and learning. Fully two-thirds of the teachers who responded to the Snapshot Survey indicated they believe, 1) that using technology in the classroom will make them better teachers and, 2) that they have the skills, as defined by the Nebraska Educator Competencies in Technology, to integrate technology into their classroom lessons.

 

Furthermore, teachers (96%) feel that their students benefit from using technology.Ý High percentages of teachers also believe that technology enables their students to produce artifacts that reflect higher-order thinking, increases their motivation, supports student collaboration, and helps students become more responsible for their learning. Moreover, teachers feel that having their students search the Internet is a useful learning activity. As one 5th grade teacher put it, ěWe have researched polyhedron, mathematicians, binomial theorem, Pascalís triangle, Rational Zeros Theorem, and much more. I especially like to use it for topics which are not adequately covered in the text.î Interestingly, teachers do not seem concerned with students coming upon inappropriate material on the Internet, but they are very concerned about the ease with which the Internet can enable plagiarism.

 

Most importantly, on one issue teachers spoke with a unanimous voice; they believe that parents support their efforts in working to integrate technology into the classroom. And, essentially all teachers reported that they believe their school principals also support them in that effort.Ý

 

Use of Technology in the Classroom

 

Acting on their beliefs about the value of technology for education, 39% of the teachers reported that their students use computers (but not the Internet) an hour or more a week, while an additional 40% reported their students use the computer about 30 minutes per week. Internet usage is distinctly lower; 17% of the teachers reported having their students use the Internet for an hour or more a week, while 40% reported having their students use the Internet about 30 minutes a week.Ý Teachers were willing to share their educational tactics and strategies as they provided 1187 Internet-infused lesson ideas.

 

Access to Technology for Curricular Uses

 

Almost all teacher-respondents (89%) indicated that they do indeed have convenient access to an Internet-connected computer for their use at school. Over one-third of the teachers report that Internet websites are their most frequently used resource for information about teaching with technology.

 

In the U.S., the trend now is not to create computer labs but to put Internet-connected computers into classrooms. This more flexible arrangement enables teachers to better orchestrate studentsí use of the technology.

 

What Needs Remain

 

Given the above, it is not surprising that teachers indicated that their most urgent need is more access to more computers for their students. Access to the Internet is not specifically an issue, since teachers believe that their rooms are wired; what they need, then, are more computers to hook into the Internet.Ý Teachersí training needs are no longer focused on just operating the technology, but rather they now need more time to fully integrate technology into their curricula, and more opportunities to interact with their colleagues around the use of educational technology.Ý

 

Concluding Remarks

 

Nebraska educators have indeed made progress towards integrating technology into the classroom. Their needs, as reported on the Snapshot Survey, indicate they are among the more technologically sophisticated users of educational technology. That is, we have found from previous snapshot surveys administered around the country, that as teachers become more technologically sophisticated with respect to using educational technology, their needs change. While they initially request more training in the operation of the technology, they progress to requesting more time to work the technology into the curriculum. Based on these findings, then, we might venture a prediction; as the state moves aggressively toward resolving the lack of sufficient access to technology, Nebraskaís educators are poised to help their school children reap the benefits to learning that technology can provide.Ý



[1] The Nebraska Educational Technology Snapshot Survey was a collaborative effort conducted by the Office of Internet Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Texas Center for Educational Technology at the University of North Texas, and the Center for Highly-Interactive Computing in Education at the University of Michigan. It was sponsored in part by the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska Educational Service Units, and the North Central Region Education Lab.