Two different surveys, released by Microsoft and DreamBox Learning, find both parents and teachers would like to see more support for tech in classrooms — just in time for back-to-school.
In survey results released Wednesday morning, Microsoft said 67 percent of U.S. parents are somewhat or very concerned that federal and state governments aren’t doing enough to equip schools to build kids’ digital skills. So who else should help? Technology industry giants. The survey also found 75 percent of parents believed big tech companies should be involved in helping kids build those digital skills.
Teachers, too, could apparently use more help with education technology. Especially with younger students.
A separate nationwide survey of educators released by PBS and Bellevue, Wash.-based DreamBox Learning found that 52 percent of PreK-2 teachers feel they don’t have the support they need to effectively use educational technology. Of those same early childhood educators, 70 percent want more devices for their students and classrooms.
Of all the surveyed roles and grade levels, PreK-2 teachers expressed the most need for support and hardware. By comparison, 45 percent of teachers in grades 3-8 felt they didn’t have enough support, and 56 percent of grade 3-8 teachers called for more devices.
The DreamBox/PBS survey was conducted by the Education Week Research Center with PreK-8 teachers and district and school leaders. The Microsoft survey conducted by YouGov was of U.S. parents with children under the age of 18.
Both surveys were generally supportive of technology use in classrooms. Microsoft’s found that 86 percent of parents believed computers and educational software were helpful to their child’s education. Some 38 percent worried their child was spending too much time on tech at school. In contrast, 63 percent were concerned about their kids spending too much time on tech at home.
DreamBox’s study found that 93 percent of educators believed that using technology for instructional purposes was an effective way to provide what it called differentiated or personalized learning experiences that adapt to student needs.
“Educators view educational technology as a tool to implement instructional approaches they value,” said Holly Kurtz, director of the Education Week Research Center, in a statement. “Almost all educators categorized differentiated instruction and personalized learning as valuable or very valuable.”
Neither DreamBox nor Microsoft is a neutral player in the edtech arena. DreamBox, which recently raised $130 million in new funding, sells an adaptive K-8 digital math program. Microsoft promotes STEM education with Minecraft: Education Edition and is adding iPad support to the popular school tool.
The new surveys come against a backdrop of dramatically increased venture investment in education technology companies at all age levels and in all market segments.
Seattle-based market research firm Metaari recently estimated that $8.24 billion was invested in what it called “learning technology” firms in the first half of 2018, with 437 companies funded globally during that time frame. Of that total, most of the money went to consumer- and corporate-facing firms, with a significant amount to companies based in China. Approximately $794 million, or 9.6 percent of all funding, went to PreK-12 companies.
“We are well on track to shatter the record set in 2017,” said Sam Adkins, chief researcher at Metaari. “The investments made to learning technology companies in 2017 were the highest in the history of the learning technology industry by an extraordinary margin.”