Perspectives

Connected to learn: Teachers’ experiences with networked technologies in the classroom

By Bernie Froese-Germain and Richard Riel
March 18, 2016

To get a better understanding of how networked technologies are impacting teachers and their teaching practices, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) partnered with MediaSmarts in 2015 to survey K-12 teachers and school administrators who are teaching in a classroom setting across the country.

The survey explored the extent to which networked technologies are available in the classroom, the ways teachers are using networked technologies to support learning, the knowledge and skills teachers have developed to make the most of networked technologies as learning tools, and creative uses of networked technologies for learning activities.

A total of 4,043 teachers responded to the survey.

Key findings

Teachers are very positive about the role of networked technologies in the classroom.

Teachers use these devices frequently and feel they have a positive impact on learning: a strong majority of teachers agree “strongly” or “somewhat” that “networked devices make it easier for my students to learn” and “networked devices make it easier for me to match my instructional practice to students’ various learning styles”.

The vast majority of teachers has access to and uses networked devices in the classroom.

Virtually all teachers say their school has provided them with some kind of networked devices in the classroom. The most common networked devices supplied by schools are smart boards (interactive whiteboards), desktop computers and laptops/notebooks.

Most devices are provided fairly evenly in both elementary and secondary schools, with the exception of tablets, which are more commonly provided at the elementary level than the secondary level. Kindergarten teachers are most likely to report having access to desktop computers and tablets and least likely to be supplied with laptops and notebooks.

Teachers have generally not embraced social media for educational purposes.

Just over 1 in 10 teachers report they use social networking with their students for educational purposes inside the classroom and fewer than 1 in 5 teachers use these tools for educational purposes outside of the classroom.

Teachers feel it is very important to teach digital literacy skills and are generally confident in their ability to do so.

Over 9 in 10 teachers surveyed consider it “very” or “somewhat” important that students learn the full gambit of digital literacy skills.

The five most popular skills indicated by teachers as being “very important” were:

  • “staying safe online”
  • “appropriate online behaviour”
  • “dealing with cyberbullying”
  • “understanding online privacy issues and settings”
  • “verifying that online information is credible/relevant/accurate”.

Teachers are fairly confident in their ability to teach these skills as well: at least seven in ten teachers report being “very” or “somewhat” confident in their ability to teach each surveyed skill respectively.

Teachers are using networked devices in their classrooms to deliver content to students and to empower their students to create content.

  • More than 7 in 10 teachers report their students have accessed content through online videos, almost half through video games, and a third through digital comics or graphic novels.

  • Although almost 4 in 10 teachers have had their students create videos, they are much less likely to have students create content through other technologies.

Teachers want more support and autonomy in using networked technologies in the classroom.

While teachers are generally positive about using networked technologies as learning tools, they are less likely to feel they have the support they need to realize potential benefits.

Teachers were most concerned about:

  • the lack of technical support for maintaining and upgrading software, devices and networks (especially in remote and Northern schools);

  • the lack of proper training in how to use networked devices to meet curricular goals.

The majority of teachers experienced not being able to access websites needed for lessons:

  • Over 8 in 10 teachers have had websites they wanted to use for educational purposes blocked by school or board filters. For about 1 in 5 teachers, this happens “frequently”.

Teachers are more evenly divided on the support they receive from schools and districts:

  • Just over half of teachers “strongly” or “somewhat” agree they have sufficient support to help them learn how to use various kinds of networked technologies;

  • Half of teachers agree they receive sufficient support to help them use networked technologies to meet curricular goals.

Download the full report

Bernie Froese-Germain and Richard Riel are researchers at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF).

Publication:
Canadian Teachers’ Federation
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Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent over 238,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.

Editor In Chief: Francine Filion | Translation and Editing: Marie‑Caroline Uhel and Marie‑Hélène Larrue
Proofreading: Denise Léger
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