Will Teacher Enthusiasm About Digital Learning Put an iPad in Every Backpack?


Today is Digital Learning Day. Didn’t realize it? You’re not alone. Do not, however, mistake the lack of awareness about the day with a concurrent lack of enthusiasm about the role of technology in educating preK-12 students. According to a recent PBS Learning Media survey, a whopping three-fourths of teachers believe technology allows them to reinforce and expand on content.
The teachers surveyed have high hopes for the promise of technology in education. While 74 percent of teachers see technology as a student motivator, two-thirds want more tech in their classrooms, and that number rises to three-fourths for teachers in low income schools.

Teachers in the survey see technology as a way to bring more content to students, while accommodating students differing learning styles. Sixty-five percent of teachers reported that technology allows them to demonstrate something they cannot show in any other way.

“Technology is a critical part of learning and teaching in today’s classrooms,” commented Alicia Levi, PBS Education. “Teachers today need access to high-quality digital content to keep pace with schools’ investment in interactive whiteboards, tablets and other devices to maximize the educational benefits of technology in classrooms.”

PBSMedia’s infographic shows that educators embrace technology across the board:


The PBS survey didn’t measure the iPad as a standalone category, but the data still implies the that the outlook for continued iPad adoption in schools is rosy. The survey measured grouped tablets and e-readers into a single category, but while the iPad still dominates the tablet market, it’s still reasonable to treat the terms as synonymous, at least until we hear about districts implementing 1:1 programs with the Nexus 7. Future surveys may need to separate tablets from e-readers to tease out the relative influence of both devices.

Teachers in the survey report that the most beneficial aspects of integrating tablets and eReaders in classrooms include apps, visiting educational websites, and the use of educational e-books and textbooks.  These responses all favor the likelihood of greater iPad adoption in schools. When comparing digital devices in an educational setting, the iPad is certainly the go-to device for edu-apps. As the Internet becomes an accepted method for students to conduct research, the iPad offers a more personal and quicker way for students and teachers to access information on the web than a shared personal computer would. Finally, the iPad also works as an e-reader for textbooks or any other classroom materials. The iPad’s flexibility allows it to serve an educator’s needs better than e-readers or desktop computers.

The infographic groups tablets and eReaders together, and these two relative new kids are only in 35% of classrooms. By Digital Learning Day 2014, however, that number should rise, considering that this year’s response represents a 20 percent increase over what teachers did a year ago.

I’ve written about my children’s school district’s planned 1:1 iPad initiative, but after visiting my daughter’s school yesterday, I observed the iPad is already commonly in use throughout the school. Second graders used the iPad for a research project in the classroom (rather than trekking to the computer lab at a scheduled hour), while outside in the hallway the Speech Language Pathologist used an iPad as replacement for a paper and pencil screening measure.

Schools represent a market that’s too big for Apple to ignore, and as the consumer market becomes saturated with tablets, it is likely that the education market will follow a similar pattern. We can also look to the adoption of personal computers, whose penetration in the schools of those surveyed was 90 percent, as a potential model for iPad adoption.

Teachers, are there iPads in your classroom yet? Are they forthcoming? How long will it be before K-12 educators put an iPad in every backpack?

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite