Teachers Driving Web 2.0 Use in Schools Says National Research Survey

Bakersfield, Calif. and Cincinnati, OH (PRWEB) April 6, 2009

While many stakeholders are involved in developing policies on the use of Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 education, new research suggests that teachers are the most important group driving adoption. This is a major finding from a national research survey of more than 500 district technology directors. The survey was commissioned by Lightspeed Systems Inc., a leader in network security and management software for schools, and Thinkronize Inc., creator of netTrekker, America’s number one educational search tool, with support from Atomic Learning.

There is a persistent gap between how today’s “digital” kids learn in school and how they work and interact outside of school, a trend that underscores the critical need for districts to keep pace with technological advances and adapt to students’ learning needs. Education leaders are challenged with maintaining a high level of security and safety while allowing for creative and collaborative work in a 21st century classroom. To meet this challenge, Lightspeed Systems and netTrekker developed Safe Schools in a Web 2.0 World, an ongoing initiative to help schools implement Web 2.0 technologies safely and effectively to improve teaching and learning.

In the first part of the initiative, Interactive Educational Systems Design Inc. (IESD), an independent educational research firm, conducted the “National Online Survey of District Technology Directors Exploring District Use of Web 2.0 Technologies” in February and March 2009 to examine the current status, future plans, and ongoing challenges of Web 2.0 in K-12 education. The research survey broke down Web 2.0 into seven categories related to student instruction and learning environments, rather than treating it with a broad brush.

Teachers were most often identified as a key group leading the adoption of a wide variety of Web 2.0 technologies. Specifically, teachers were most frequently cited for driving the adoption of digital multimedia resources (78 percent), online learning games and simulations (65 percent) and teacher-generated online content (60 percent). They were also among the top three groups for student-generated online content (45 percent) and student use of virtual learning environments (42 percent). Another key group identified was students, who were most frequently cited as driving the adoption of social networking and student-generated online content.

“The research indicates that the movement toward Web 2.0 use to engage students and address individual learning needs is largely being driven in districts from the bottom up – starting with teachers and students,” said Dr. Jay Sivin-Kachala, vice president and lead researcher for IESD. “Furthermore, the results show that many districts are using or planning to use Web 2.0 tools in teacher professional development, which suggests that teachers will become increasingly comfortable with these technologies and better able to teach students how to use them safely and productively.”

Overall, the research confirms school districts are using or planning to use several types of Web 2.0 technologies, but reveals there is still resistance to using online social networking for instructional purposes. In 83 percent of districts, very few or no teachers use online social networking for instruction, and 40 percent of districts currently have policies that don’t allow use of this technology. However, some trailblazing districts have plans for adopting or promoting use of this technology.

Other key results of the survey include: