three young girls look at a smartphone
Access to technology at home is a roadblock for student learning, a recent study has found. Source: Shutterstock

Nothing is constant except change, and the same can be said about education where technology continues to shape the way students learn in the classroom across numerous countries.

Despite its important role in facilitating students’ growth and teachers’ delivery of the syllabus, findings from the recent Schoology survey has found that a lack of student access to technology at home is a roadblock for student learning.

The report, titled The State of Digital Learning in K-12 Education, obtained responses from over 9,000 education professionals, primarily from the US, but also from 65 countries, to shed light on the state of digital learning in K12 education.

Researchers found that nearly 42 percent of respondents reported that the biggest barrier to student learning is their lack of access to devices at home and that this is especially true in rural and urban areas.

“There are myriad obstacles to effective student learning across schools and districts. But the top three obstacles respondents claim are a lack of student access at home, lack of time, and a lack of devices,” the authors said.

“This is interesting when we consider the fact that more than 50 percent of respondents said their school or district is 1:1, and more than half of them allow students to take devices home.”

Meanwhile, the report said the top two challenges faced by teachers in 2017-2018 were tech bloat (i.e. juggling too many tools), and their students’ lack of access to technology.

Schoology uncovered that the number of teachers who felt like they were juggling too many tools increased by nearly 8 percent this year, taking the place of student access to technology as the biggest challenge for teachers in 2018.

This is an interesting juxtaposition to teachers’ biggest priority for the coming year – to implement new edtech tools into their classrooms – when their two biggest problems relate to juggling too many tech tools and a lack of student access to technology.

These findings suggest several things, including that teachers need a more strategic approach when incorporating technology in the classroom to ensure it facilitates and not hinders their ability to teach students.

Meanwhile, the report notes that “many of the digital learning problems uncovered by this research are tied back to lacking infrastructure, budget, or access at home. This is not something teachers can solve on their own.

“Administrators do recognise this as a major concern. When asked about their greatest challenges in 2017-18, the second-most listed one was technological infrastructure.”

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