Report: Teachers Find Technology Mostly Helpful in Classroom

28 August, 2018

New opinion studies have found a majority of teachers believe technology is helping them do a better job in the classroom.

But the research also shows that many educators are concerned digital devices can cause physical and mental harm to students.

One study asked higher education teachers to give their opinions on the use of technology in the classroom. The study involved higher education teachers at public and private colleges and universities across the United States.

The 2018 Teaching with Technology Survey was published by the website Campus Technology. Of those questioned, 44 percent said technology made their job easier, while 29 percent said it made their job much easier.

While overall feelings about technology were good among college educators, an increasing number said technology could also be harmful. A total of 19 percent of those questioned said they felt technology had made their job harder or much harder.

Youth from Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County are excited to use Samsung technology in the renovated
Youth from Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County are excited to use Samsung technology in the renovated "Tween Tech Center" for the first time on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Jim Urquhart/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America)

The study also looked at how technology helped teaching effectiveness. A large majority of educators, 87 percent, said technology had positively affected their ability to teach.

Eleven percent said they felt technology had no effect on the quality of their teaching. Just two percent said technology had a negative effect on teaching.

Results of the survey also found teachers had good feelings about technology's effects on learning. Eighty-three percent said they felt technology had positively affected their students' learning. Just nine percent said technology did not affect student learning, while eight percent said they believed it had a negative effect.

In releasing the study results, Campus Technology reported that some teachers had expressed mixed feelings about the use of technology. These opinions came in the form of open-ended questions answered directly by educators.

The educators were not identified. One noted that the learning process can suffer if students depend too much on their devices. "People can easily get addicted to their devices, and using technology can change the way the brain develops - not always in a good way," the teacher wrote.

Another educator wrote: "Technology is accidentally increasing students' weakness in reading and figuring things out (or critical thinking). They confuse clicking with learning."

Another expressed that while technology had improved learning in some areas, it had also created "a false sense of security" in others. The teacher said more research should be done on how the use of technology compares to traditional teaching methods.

"For example, several recent studies have shown that taking notes with pen and paper improves student learning over taking notes on a laptop," the educator wrote. "For some students, the laptop is necessary. For the majority, it's a detriment to their learning."

Research organization Gallup published a study earlier this year on the use of digital devices by students in grades K-12.

In that study, 42 percent of teachers said the effects of devices on students' education was mostly helpful. About 30 percent of educators said they were neither helpful nor harmful to students. However, 28 percent said they thought the use of such devices was mostly harmful.

Earlier research has shown that a large majority of students at all age levels own a smartphone. An estimated 53 percent of elementary school students have their own digital devices. About 65 percent of middle school students are thought to own them, along with at least 82 percent of high school students.

The Gallup study also asked teachers to give their opinions on the possible harmful effects of digital device usage.

About 55 percent of K-12 teachers said the effects of digital devices on students' physical health are mostly harmful. Forty-two percent said they felt the devices are neither helpful nor harmful.

And about 69 percent of teachers said they feel digital devices are mostly harmful to students' mental health.

Parents were mostly more supportive than teachers of digital devices and their effects on school-age children. The Gallup study found that 87 percent of parents believe such devices are mostly helpful, while 13 percent said they are mostly hurtful.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

digital adj. relating to computer technology, especially the internet

positive adj. having good and happy thoughts about something

negative adj. not desirable or hopeful

addicted adj. physically and mentally dependent on something

figure out –v.

click v. to press on part of a computer to make it do something

laptop n. small computer designed to be easily carried

detriment n. causing damage to something

K-12 adj. relating to primary and secondary education. The U.S., Canada and other countries use the term to describe publicly supported school grades before the start of college