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Teachers' Tools for the 21st Century: A Report on Teachers' Use of Technology
NCES: 2000102
September 2000

Teacher Preparation and Training

The 1999 Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) teacher survey of technology use asked public school teachers a number of questions regarding their preparation and training on the following topics: their feelings of preparedness, the extent to which various training sources contributed to their understanding of technology (e.g., colleagues, independent learning), their participation in a number of different types of professional development activities and the length of their participation, and the supports they received for participating in training activities.

Highlights

  • In 1999, one-third of teachers reported feeling very well or well prepared to use computers and the Internet for instruction, with less experienced teachers indicating they felt more prepared to use technology than their more experienced colleagues. For many instructional activities, teachers who reported feeling well prepared or very well prepared to use technology were more likely to use it or assign students to use it than teachers who reported feeling unprepared.
  • Teachers cited independent learning most frequently as preparing them for technology use, followed by professional development activities and their colleagues. Whereas half of all teachers reported that college and graduate work prepared them to use technology, less experienced teachers were generally much more likely than their more experienced colleagues to indicate that this education prepared them to use computers and the Internet.
  • Most teachers indicated that professional development activities on a number of topics were available to them, including training on software applications, the use of the Internet, and the use of computers and basic computer training. Participation was relatively high in these three activities (ranging from 75 to 83 percent), with more experienced teachers often more likely to participate than less experienced teachers. Teachers indicated that follow-up and advanced training were available less frequently, and approximately half of the teachers reporting that each of these two activities were available to them participated in them.
  • Over a 3-year time period, most teachers participated in professional development activities that lasted the equivalent of 4 days or less (i.e., 32 or fewer hours). Teachers who reported spending more time in professional development activities (9 hours or more) were generally more likely than teachers who spent less time in such activities (fewer than 9 hours) to report feeling well or very well prepared to use computers and the Internet for instruction.

Teachers' Feelings of Preparedness

In 1999, 10 percent of teachers reported feeling "very well prepared," and 23 percent reported feeling "well prepared" to use computers and the Internet for classroom instruction. At least half of teachers reported feeling "somewhat prepared" to use these technologies for instruction (53 percent), and 13 percent reported feeling "not at all prepared" to use these technologies for instruction (table A-5.5).

Teachers' feelings of preparation varied by their years of teaching experience.
For example, teachers with 3 or fewer years of teaching experience were generally more likely to report that they felt well prepared or very well prepared, compared with teachers with more years of teaching experience (45 percent compared with 31 percent of teachers with 10 to 19 years and 27 percent of teachers with 20 or more years of teaching experience-figure 5.1).

Preparedness and Teachers' Use of Technology
For many instructional activities, teachers who reported feeling better prepared to use technology were more likely to use it than teachers who indicated that they felt unprepared. Specifically, teachers who reported feeling well prepared or very well prepared were more likely than teachers who reported feeling unprepared to create instructional materials (88 percent compared with 50 percent), gather information for planning lessons (71 percent compared with 28 percent), access model lesson plans (47 percent compared with 12 percent), access research and best practices for teaching (52 percent compared with 11 percent), create multimedia presentations for the classroom (55 percent compared with 12 percent), and perform administrative record keeping (62 percent compared with 34 percent). They were also more likely to communicate via e-mail with colleagues, students' parents, and students outside the classroom, as well as post homework or project information (table 5.1).

Teachers' use of technology for classroom assignments is also related to their feelings of preparedness. For each classroom instructional activity, teachers who reported feeling well prepared or very well prepared were more likely than teachers who reported feeling unprepared to report assigning students to use these technologies. For example, 66 percent of teachers who reported feeling well prepared or very well prepared to use technology indicated that they assigned students to use computers or the Internet to solve problems or analyze data, compared with 47 percent of teachers who reported feeling somewhat prepared and 14 percent of teachers who reported feeling unprepared (table 5.2 ).

Teacher Preparation and Training

Because teachers' use of technology is related to their feelings of preparedness, it is important to understand teachers' training for technology use and how that relates to their feelings of preparedness. This section examines a number of different types of information about teachers' training and preparation, including their sources of training, the availability of professional development in their schools and their participation in these activities, and the support and guidance they receive to facilitate their training.

Sources of Training

The 1999 teacher survey on technology use asked teachers to report the extent to which a number of sources prepared them to use computers and the Internet, including college and graduate work, professional development, colleagues, students, and independent learning. The most frequently cited sources of preparation were independent learning (93 percent of teachers indicated that independent learning prepared them to any extent), professional development activities (88 percent), and colleagues (87 percent-figure 5.2). Furthermore, approximately half of all public school teachers reported that students and college/graduate work prepared them to use computers or the Internet to any extent (54 percent and 51 percent, respectively).

Teachers with fewer years of teaching experience were generally more likely than their more experienced colleagues to indicate that college/graduate work prepared them to use computers and the Internet to any extent. Eighty-four percent of teachers with 3 or fewer years and 76 percent of teachers with 4 to 9 years of teaching experience reported that college/graduate work prepared them to use these technologies to any extent, compared with 44 percent of teachers with 10 to 19 years and 31 percent of teachers with 20 or more years of teaching experience (figure 5.3).

Professional Development

The 1999 teacher survey of technology use asked a number of questions about professional development availability and participation. Specifically, the survey asked teachers if the following types of professional development activities were available to them and if they participated in these activities: use of computers and basic computer training, software applications, use of the Internet, integration of technology into the curriculum and classroom instruction, follow-up and/or advanced training, and use of other advanced telecommunications.

Availability

Teachers reported that professional development training on the use of computers and basic computer training was the type most likely to be available to them (96 percent), followed by software applications (88 percent), use of the Internet (87 percent), and integration of technology into the curriculum and classroom instruction (79 percent-figure 5.4). Teachers were least likely to report that follow-up and/or advanced training and use of other advanced telecommunications were available to them (67 percent and 54 percent, respectively).

Ninety-one percent of teachers in schools with 6 to 20 percent minority enrollments and 90 percent of teachers in schools with 21 to 49 percent minority enrollments reported that such training was available to them, compared with 81 percent of teachers in schools with 50 percent or more minority enrollments (figure 5.5 ). Furthermore, 94 percent of teachers in schools with less than 11 percent of the students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch, 90 percent of teachers in schools with 11 to 30 percent of students eligible, and 91 percent of teachers in schools with 31 to 49 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch reported that training in the use of the Internet was available to them, compared with 80 percent of teachers in schools with 50 to 70 percent of students eligible and 79 percent of teachers in schools with more than 70 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch.

Participation

Among teachers who reported the availability of each professional developmentactivity, participation during the last 3 years was highest in the use of computers and basic computer training (83 percent) and software applications (81 percent), followed by use of the Internet (75 percent) and integration of technology into the curriculum and classroom instruction (74 percent-figure 5.6). Approximately half of the teachers who reported that follow-up and/or advanced training or the use of other advanced telecommunications were available to them participated in these activities (55 percent and 53 percent, respectively).

In general, teachers with more years of teaching experience were more likely to report having participated in basic computer use and software applications professional development activities than their less experienced colleagues. For example, 87 percent of teachers with 10 to 19 years of teaching experience and 90 percent of teachers with 20 or more years of teaching experience participated in computer use and basic computer training activities, compared with 63 percent of teachers with 3 or fewer years and 77 percent of teachers with 4 to 9 years of teaching experience (table 5.3).

Time spent in professional development activities.

The 1999 teacher survey of technology use also asked teachers the number of hours they participated in professional development activities in the use of computers or the Internet during the last 3 years. Forty-three percent of teachers participated in such professional development activities for 1 to 8 hours, 34 percent participated for 9 to 32 hours, and 12 percent participated in such activities for more than 32 hours (figure 5.7). One in ten teachers indicated that they did not participate in any such professional development activities.

Preparedness and time spent in professional development activities

Teachers who spent more time in professional development activities were generally more likely than teachers who spent less time in such activities to indicate they felt prepared to use computers and the Internet for instruction. Specifically, teachers who reported spending more than a day (9 hours or more) in professional development were more likely to report feeling well prepared or very well prepared to use computers or the Internet than those who reported spending a day or less (fewer than 9 hours) in such activities (table 5.4).

Support and Guidance for Participation in Technology Training

In addition to asking teachers about their training and preparation in the use of technology, the 1999 teacher survey of technology use also asked teachers if the following types of incentives were available to them for participation in professional development: course credit toward certification, additional resources for the teacher or classroom, paid expenses, release time, stipends, or connection to the Internet from home.

Approximately half of all teachers reported that course credit toward certification and additional resources were offered as incentives to participate in technology training (56 percent and 46 percent, respectively-figure 5.8 ). About two-fifths of teachers reported having paid expenses (40 percent) and release time and stipends (39 percent) as incentives. In addition, about one in five teachers reported that connections to the Internet from home were offered (22 percent).

Teachers in small schools were more likely than teachers in larger schools to report the availability of such incentives as release time and paid expenses. For example, about half (53 percent) of the teachers in schools with less than 300 students reported the availability of release time, compared with a little over one-third (37 percent) of teachers in schools with 300 to 999 students and schools with 1,000 or more students (figure 5.9 ). On the other hand, teachers in medium and large schools were more likely than teachers in small schools to report the availability of connections to the Internet from home as an incentive to participate in technology training (22 percent and 24 percent, respectively, compared with 13 percent).

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