Lack of Funding Creates Barrier to Using Tech in Class

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Lenny Gonzalez

Although most teachers have access to computers in their classes, only one in five say they have the right level of technology, according to a recent PBS national survey of teachers grades pre-K-12.

Limited budgets were cited as the biggest barrier to accessing technology, according to 63 percent of teachers. In low-income communities, lack of funding was cited for 70 percent of teachers as the biggest obstacle.

Not surprisingly, educators who work in affluent school districts have more support from parents and school boards for providing tech tools for classrooms compared to those in low-income neighborhoods -- 38 percent versus 14 percent said they received lots of parental support; and  38 percent versus 21 percent said the same for school board support.

PBS is leveraging the report to call attention to its library of free digital media available for use by teachers. The PBS Learning Media is a repository of more than 16,000 digital assets, including lesson plans, background essays, and discussion questions for pre-K-12 educators that align with Common Core State Standards.

Here's more from the report:


While the vast majority of teachers have access to computers, less than two-thirds (59 percent) have access to an interactive whiteboard, a newer technology that can be used more broadly for classroom lessons. Teachers in affluent districts are also twice as likely to have access to tablets as teachers in middle and lower income districts.

Still, teachers' opinion about the ability of tech to enhance learning is universal; 93 percent believe that interactive whiteboards enrich classroom education and 81 percent feel the same way about tablets. This attitude towards technology transcends grade level, the income levels of the student population and the types of communities where they teach.

According to the survey, tech resources used most often in the classroom include: Web sites (56 percent), online images (44 percent) and online games or activities (43 percent). Increasing student motivation (77 percent), reinforcing and expanding on content being taught (76 percent) and responding to a variety of learning styles (76 percent) are the top three reasons teachers use technology in the classroom.

"Over the past decade, we've seen broadening adoption and deeper integration of digital media in classrooms for all age groups, with teachers enthusiastic about the power of new technologies to foster learning," said Rob Lippincott, Senior Vice President, PBS Education. "It's clear most teachers are embracing technology and need more resources, and PBS is committed to offering innovative tools and resources to support learning in classrooms across America."

The survey was conducted by VeraQuest Research and sampled 500 teachers within the United States between December 14 and December 20, 2011. Respondents for this survey were randomly selected from an online panel to be representative of teachers in the U.S.