How teachers use digital technology

Common Sense Media surveyed more than 12,000 K-12 teachers to better understand how they are incorporating digital competencies in their curricula, how they use digital tools, what access they have to technology, and what technology-integration policies schools have in place.

Among their findings:

  • Around 70% of teachers teach at least one digital competency, with 60% covering such topics at least monthly. The most common topics covered were digital drama, cyberbullying, and hate speech.
  • Teachers’ biggest concerns about technology was that students cannot critically evaluate content they encounter online. This was followed by concerns about technology tended to distract students from learning.
  • Sexting was reported as an issue among 27% of high school teachers, 19% of middle school teachers, 5% of grade 3-5 teachers, and 9% of K-2 teachers.
  • Video streaming was the most commonly used technology among teachers, followed by productivity and presentation tools. Digital creation tools were among the least used, even though teachers considered these among the most effective in building students’ skills in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.
  • Only 40% of teachers considered the professional development they received on technology use to be “very” or “extremely” effective,” and about one-third of teachers reported not using technology tools purchased by their districts.
  • Teachers in Title I schools were more likely to report having a majority of students without at-home technology access, and these teachers were more likely to avoid assigning homework that required access to technology. Approximately a third of respondents said a lack of access to computers and the internet at home would limit their students’ learning.

The full report provides details on which specific digital competencies are being taught, breakdowns on the use and value of certain tools according to subject area, and findings for different grade levels, school types, and levels of diversity.

Source: Vega, V. & Robb, M.A. (2019). The Common Sense census: Inside the 21st-century classroom. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media.


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