Traditional blackboard-and-book classrooms may not be long for this world. Sure, this may be a bold statement but take a look at some of the data.
Last year, investors pumped $1.87 billion into education technology companies, according to venture capital investment firm, CB Insights. That’s an all-time high and a 55% increase from the year before. If that’s not enough, consider that data from trade association CompTIA shows that 75% of educators see positive or very positive outcomes from technology used in education.
With all its apparent momentum, we wondered if technology in education has the support of parents.
Here’s what we learned.
It’s already begun
Before we even got into parents’ thoughts on the matter, we wanted to find out how prevalent technology in the classroom already is. We found that almost 85% of parents reported that their children already use some type of technology in the classroom—laptops, tablets, online courses, or grade-tracking software programs.
Broadly, most parents supported technology in the classroom. Only 10.5% of them said that less technology should be used in the classroom, while the remainder of parents were pretty evenly split between increasing technology and keeping it the same as now.
Digging into the data
Maybe it’s not exactly shocking that in the year 2015 there’s a lot of education technology being used and that in most cases, parents see it as a big positive. So we took a deeper dive to get even more specific.
We asked them what specific types of technology their kids currently use and compared those data to the types of technology they thought they should be using.
The difference was greatest when we asked about the use of online courses. At 20%, relatively few parents said their kids use online courses now, but roughly twice that number—41%—said they thought online courses should be used.
We found a similar, but slightly less drastic, difference when we asked about course management systems, which are online hubs for kids to communicate with teachers, check grades and assignments, and turn in homework. 49% of parents said their kids use them now, but 69% said they thought they should be.
Popularity vs. necessity
Where educational computer games and personal devices were concerned, there was less difference. About the same number of parents whose kids use those technologies said they should be used. Still, it’s interesting to note that despite the popularity of personal electronic devices for education, nearly 30% of parents thought they shouldn’t be used.
So what types of concerns do these parents have? 34% of parents said their biggest concern was how distracting technology can be, closely followed by 25% who said they were worried about data privacy. But the largest group of parents (43%) said they weren’t worried at all about technology in the classroom.
Meanwhile, the biggest benefit parents saw in educational technology was to make lessons more engaging. At 32%, it was chosen almost as often as the next two options combined: the ability to connect to real world experts and letting students interact better with teachers and get better feedback, each of which scored around 17%. Only 2% said there was no benefit whatsoever to technology in the classroom.
What’s the big picture?
Overall, the parents surveyed were pretty optimistic about technology in the classroom. More than 75% of parents said technology had a somewhat positive or very positive impact on their child’s education. Only 3% said it was very negative or somewhat negative. And more than 90% of parents said it was at least somewhat helpful in helping them with their children’s homework.
Bonus round: tidbits about our respondents
So who are these parents anyway? They’re from all over the U.S. and the majority of them are 30-44 year-olds, who make under $100,000 and send their kids to public school. 69% of them said their schools didn’t help pay for their children’s personal electronic devices.
Half of those who got help paying for their children’s electronic devices said their schools paid for all of it.
Tomorrow’s classrooms may begin to look a lot different from what we’re used to. Watch for changes as more parents, students, and educators get their hands on technology and start using it for all types of educational purposes. While the cost of using more technology in education may be a barrier, it seems likely that its role in the classroom will only continue to grow.
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