How 2020 Shifted Perceptions of Technology in the Classroom

That’s what MDR learned after surveying nearly 1,000 K-12 teachers in October 2020 after this far from ordinary year in education. There are some silver linings to be found in education’s pandemic response, and we explored teachers’ experiences and attitudes.

Educators are highly positive towards technology in the classroom, with 54% indicating it was very useful.

The use of technology devices in the classroom has been steadily increasing for decades, but no one could have imagined how quickly some schools would approach 1:1 instruction within a matter of months.

The schools achieving 1:1 were much more likely to be high schools (41%) or middle schools (37%) versus elementary (22%). More schools and districts are likely to outfit students with technology devices — whether to use at home, at school, or anywhere else.

Connectivity was another major hurdle for schools to overcome to enable remote instruction; Internet access was a top priority for districts in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act spending. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that “The most common strategy is expanding temporary internet access points for students.” Short-term fixes like mobile hotspots and Wi-Fi-enabled buses parked in neighborhoods will ultimately need to be replaced with permanent broadband infrastructure to make connectivity an everyday reality, and some states are already making plans to do that.

Conferencing apps like Zoom (60%), Google Meet (34%), and Screencastify (32%) were cited by teachers as their options to create virtual classrooms. Translating in-person instruction to at-a-distance, and in some cases asynchronous, prompted many teachers to make greater use of education apps to engage students and maintain progress.

Along with some perennial favorites like Kahoot!, Quizlet, Remind, and ClassDojo, teachers mentioned six new educational apps they turned to in 2020:

  • Bitmoji
  • Edpuzzle
  • Epic Unlimited Books for Kids
  • Flipgrid
  • Jamboard
  • Nearpod

Teachers were assigned a heavy lift this year, and when asked what additional support they needed to meet the challenges of remote instruction, teachers overwhelmingly cited training and professional development. Nearly one-fifth of educators noted a desire for training related to the programs, platforms, and apps they were using — for themselves, parents, and students.

There is a clear need, and opportunity, for providers of EdTech to ensure the app onboarding process can work just as well outside the classroom as in, and with parents as guides or students onboarding themselves.

We asked and, as usual, teachers spoke up about their experiences and perceptions of technology. There’s much more to learn in our full report that brings together key findings, exclusive straight-from-the-teacher insights, and analysis. You can get the report and a handy infographic that highlights the key findings.