K-12 Teacher Survey: Tablets Are Beneficial But All Too Rare

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Teachers see tablets as beneficial, they just don't see enough tablets.

Teachers see tablets as beneficial, they just don’t see enough tablets.

by Beth Bacon

K-12 teachers see tablets as beneficial to children, but most schools still have no access to tablets, according to in independent survey of teachers in the United States by E-Books And Kids, a website I run that covers issues in children’s ebook publishing.

“I think the tablets could be very useful for learning. Unfortunately I believe it is unrealistic that my school could ever afford them,” notes one teacher in the survey.

Low tablet use found in US schools

The research found that tablet use is still far from common in K-12 education. Of the 229 educators surveyed, 78% reported no tablet use at their school. Only 10% of the respondents had tablets in their own classrooms. “I have 5 in my classroom of 28 students,” said one respondent. “I don’t have my own to use regularly,” said another teacher. The ideal one-to-one ratio of students to tablets is currently extremely rare.

The near future doesn’t seem to bring much change in educational tablet use. When asked if their school plans to acquire tablets in the future, if they don’t use tablets now, 66% responded “not that I know of.”  8% responded that their school plans to acquire tablets next year, 11% believed tablets would be available within three years. Some schools are beginning small pilot projects. One middle school teacher reports that a “select group will have access next year.”

Teachers admire tablets for independent and self-paced learning

Teachers perceive that integrating tablets can be beneficial in several ways. Almost half of the respondents, 49%, admire tablets for allowing independent learning. That same number, 49%, agree that tablets are an effective tool for helping students to learn at their own level and pace. A number of respondents made a note that tablets help reduce paperwork and allow teachers to spend less time processing students grades.

Almost half of the respondents, 47%, agree that kids’ love for tablets and technology helps make tablets a favorable classroom tool. One noted that “students are more engaged when using technology.” Others believe tablets “facilitate communication,” and give students “real world technology skills needed in life.” One teacher writes that tablets could be used as rewards for student success by offering  “access to an activity [on a tablet] as a reward for young children.”

Then there’s the convenience and portability of tablets. “Easier to carry than 20 books!” said one educator.

Because tablets are so popular with kids, teachers are generally receptive to using them in the classroom. “We need to teach them the way they want to be taught… not the way we want to teach them…” one educator noted.  Only 18% of the teachers surveyed were unsure of the advantages of tablets in the classroom.

Lack of budget for apps and ebooks top teachers’ concerns

The survey found that most common problem with integrating tablets into K-12 education is a lack of budget to purchase applications and ebooks. More than half, 58% of respondents, agree with the statement that budget limitations are an issue.

Evaluations and classroom integration are a concern with a small percentage of educators. 17% of the teachers surveyed are unsure how to grade their students on their tablet use. 16% of respondents agree with the statement that they “don’t understand how applications integrate with my lesson plans.” (Though several write-in comments menton the fact that tablet apps with integrated evaluation modules make grading easier and include their own lesson plans).

Enthusiasm for tablets among teachers

Most teachers seem willing to add tablets to the classroom experience. A small 7% of respondents  believe applications and e-books aren’t educational enough for classroom use. The biggest barrier to tablet use in the classroom is lack of access to the technology.

This survey of 229 respondents was performed in July 2012 via Survey Monkey by the staff at E-BooksAndKids.com. Classroom image by Shutterstock.

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