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Teachers embrace digital learning technologies

Paul Brislen, Editor. 01 June 2017, 7:32 am

A survey of primary and intermediate school teachers and principals finds that most believe digital technologies are enhancing classrooms and student learning. 

The New Zealand Council for Education Research (NZCER) is an independent statutory education research and development organisation and last year it surveyed primary sector educators around the country on the impact of digital technologies in the classroom.

The results show that at primary and intermediate schools at least, digital tools are being used throughout the curriculum.

More than 90% of teachers say they use digital technologies "often or sometimes" when practising subject-specific skills; 80% use the internet in class for research and 70% create documents and slideshow presentations as part of the teaching cycle.

Only 19% report teaching coding or programming skills "often or sometimes" although 43% would like to see this happen more often.

The report comes as the government invests hundreds of millions of dollars in both connecting schools to the Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) network but also pours money in to Network 4 Learning (N4L), the government body charged with helping schools become more digitally enabled.

Under the N4L banner, most schools now have strong internet connections but many report financial struggles keeping up with hardware requirements and in-class devices and infrastructure. The need for smart whiteboards, projectors or large screen TVs sitting in as display monitors as well as devices for students and a desire to provide an equitable opportunity for all students in the classroom remains a concern for principals and school boards as they allocate budget and resources.

Concerns were raised around the ongoing encroachment into teachers' personal lives and time that technology brings, and of course the new realm of cyber safety is a concern to teaching professionals. 

Thankfully only 10% of respondents believe the benefits of digital technology are outweighed by the time taken to upskill. Generally teachers use the internet and digital technologies to research for classroom projects, to collaborate with other teachers within school (90%) and beyond the school (61%) and to share teaching resources (62%). Around 63% of teachers belong to an online professional learning network (PLN).

The full report is available here.


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