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

Barriers to Technology Use

In 1999, the barriers to the use of computer and the Internet for instruction most frequently reported by public school teachers were insufficient numbers of computers, lack of release time for teachers to learn how to use computers or the Internet, and lack of time in schedule for students to use computers in class (78 percent, 82 percent, and 80 percent of teachers, respectively -figure 6.1). In addition, 71 percent reported the lack of good instructional software, and 58 percent of teachers reported difficult Internet access as barriers. Furthermore, approximately two-thirds of all teachers reported the lack of adequate equipment, training opportunities, technical support or advice, and support regarding ways to integrate telecommunications into the curriculum as barriers (66 percent, 67 percent, 64 percent, and 68 percent, respectively). Fifty-nine percent also reported that a concern about student access to inappropriate materials was a barrier. Lack of administrative support was least likely to be reported as a barrier (43 percent). Among the barriers most frequently reported by teachers to be "great" barriers to their use of computers or the Internet for instruction in 1999 were not enough computers, lack of release time for teachers to learn how to use computers or the Internet, and lack of time in students' schedule to use technology (38 percent, 37 percent, and 32 percent, respectively).

Differences in Teachers' Reports of Great Barriers

Availability of and Access to Computers and the Internet

In order for teachers to integrate technology into their instruction, technology must be available and accessible to them. This section examines barriers to teachers' use of technology that involve availability of and access to computers and the Internet. More specifically, it looks at differences in teachers' reports of the lack of computers, lack of adequate computers, and difficulty accessing the Internet (38 percent, 25 percent, and 27 percent of teachers, respectively, reported these to be great barriers to their use of technology for instruction). Teachers' reports that not having enough computers was a great barrier varied by instructional level, school size, and school location (table 6.1). Secondary teachers were more likely than elementary teachers to indicate that not having enough computers was a great barrier (43 percent compared with 36 percent). In addition, teachers in schools with 300 or more students were more likely than teachers in schools with fewer than 300 students to report that not having enough computers was a great barrier (38 percent and 46 percent, compared with 25 percent). Moreover, teachers in city schools were more likely than those in rural schools to report that not enough computers was a great barrier (43 percent compared with 31 percent).

There were also differences in teachers' reports of outdated, incompatible, or unreliable computers being a barrier. For example, elementary teachers were more likely to report that this was a great barrier than secondary teachers (27 percent compared with 21 percent). Additionally, teachers in schools with more than 50 percent minority enrollments were more likely to cite outdated, incompatible, or unreliable computers as a great barrier than teachers in schools with less than 6 percent minority enrollments (32 percent compared with 22 percent).

Similar differences were found for not having easy Internet access as a barrier. Elementary teachers cited this barrier more frequently than secondary teachers (28 percent compared with 23 percent). Additionally, teachers in schools with more than 50 percent minority enrollments were more likely to report not having easy Internet access as a great barrier than teachers in schools with less than 6 percent minority enrollments and 6 to 20 percent minority enrollments (36 percent compared with 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively).

Lack of Time

Among the greatest barriers to the use of technology in instruction reported was lack of time. The section examines two types of time limitations. The first is the lack of release time for teachers to learn, practice, or plan ways to use computers or the Internet for instruction. The second is the lack of time in the schedule for students to use computers and the Internet in class.

Although teachers' reports of lack of training opportunities did not differ significantly by teacher or school characteristics (table A-6.3 table A-6.3 Continued B table A-6.3 Continued C table A-6.3 Continued D), release time did (figure 6.2 ). Specifically, teachers with more years of teaching experience (10 to 19 years and 20 or more years of experience) were more likely than teachers with the least experience (3 or fewer years) to report that a lack of release time was a great barrier (41 percent and 39 percent, compared with 25 percent). Additionally, elementary teachers were more likely than secondary teachers to report a lack of time in the schedule for students to use computers and the Internet in class as a great barrier (34 percent compared with 28 percent-table A-6.3 table A-6.3 Continued B table A-6.3 Continued C table A-6.3 Continued D).
 

Institutional and Technical Support for Using Technology

This section examines teachers' perceptions of the lack of administrative and technical support, as well as lack of support regarding ways to integrate computers and the Internet into the curriculum as barriers to their use of computers and the Internet for instruction.

The lack of administrative support as a great barrier varied by years of teaching experience. Specifically, teachers with 10 to 19 years of experience cited this as a great barrier more frequently than teachers with 20 or more years of experience (13 percent compared with 7 percent -table A-6.3 table A-6.3 Continued B table A-6.3 Continued C table A-6.3 Continued D). There were also differences in teachers' reports of the lack of support regarding ways to integrate telecommunications into the curriculum as a great barrier by minority enrollments. That is, 24 percent of teachers in schools with 50 percent or more minority enrollments cited lack of support regarding ways to integrate telecommunications as a great barrier compared with 15 percent of teachers in schools with 6 to 20 percent minority enrollments, and 13 percent of teachers in schools with 21 to 49 percent minority enrollments (figure 6.3 )

In addition, teachers in schools that did not have a technical coordinator in 1999 (20 percent -table A-6.3 table A-6.3 Continued B table A-6.3 Continued C table A-6.3 Continued D) were approximately two to three times as likely as teachers in schools with a technical coordinator to report the lack of institutional and technical support as a great barrier (figure 6.4 ). Specifically, 8 percent of teachers in schools with a technical coordinator cited lack of administrative support as a great barrier compared with 17 percent of teachers without this resource. Moreover, 15 percent of teachers with a technical coordinator perceived lack of support regarding ways to integrate technology into the curriculum as a great barrier, compared with 33 percent of teachers without a technology coordinator. Finally, 12 percent of teachers that had a technical coordinator available reported the lack of technical support or advice as a great barrier, compared with 39 percent of teachers without a technology coordinator.

Barriers and Teachers' Instructional Activities

Generally, teachers who perceived lacking computers and time for students to use computers as great barriers were less likely than those who did not perceive these conditions as barriers to assign students to use computers or the Internet for some instructional activities. For example, teachers who reported insufficient numbers of computers as a great barrier were less likely than teachers reporting that this was not a barrier to assign students to use computers or the Internet to a "large extent" for practicing drills (9 percent compared with 19 percent), word processing or creating spreadsheets (14 percent compared with 25 percent), and solving problems and analyzing data (6 percent compared with 13 percent-table 6.2). The pattern is similar for an additional barrier, lack of time in schedule for students to use computers in class, with the exception of Internet research-teachers who reported lack of time as a great barrier were less likely to do this than teachers who reported it as a small barrier.

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