For the last year, Marketplace's LearningCurve team has been looking at the impact of technology on education. We've talked to students, teachers and ed-tech companies about the digital revolution taking hold in classrooms across the country.
We've explored the promise of individualized learning and the peril of student data-mining. We've delved into the economics of the corporate arms race to outfit the nation’s classrooms, and student interactions with devices and software in lockup.
Now we turn our attention to parents, many of whom have spent the last year exploring the ins-and-outs of educational technology themselves, alongside their children. We wanted to get parents' views of the shift, as their children do more school work on laptops and tablets, and become accustomed to emailing teachers and checking grades online.
In a national, online survey of parents of kids in grades 3 through 12 conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide, "Parents' Attitudes Toward Educational Technology," we found parents feel good about the growing use of technology in education, and most think it is improving the quality of education for their children.
Parents also think tech can be especially effective for courses in STEM — subjects like math and science. Most parents also think technology can help level the playing field between rich and poor children, with Hispanic parents especially apt to feel this way. But parents across all income levels and races still have concerns about issues like screen time and technology’s impact on critical thinking.
- 90 percent of children in grades 3 through 12 have access to use a computer for school work, with most using their own household computer.
- 98 percent of children use technology for their school work, including smartphones.
Most parents — 51 percent — think schools are spending the right amount of money on technology in the classroom. About four out of 10 parents would like to see schools spend more.
Parents are also comfortable with the amount of money they spend on educational technology for their own child. Seventy percent say they are spending the right amount on technology for their kid’s school work.
- 83 percent of parents say their child's school requires students to conduct research online.
- 68 percent say technology has increased their ability to help their children with school work.
Students from low-income households are required to do fewer educational tasks digitally than their high-income counterparts. For example, 70 percent of high-income students have been asked to turn in assignments online, while only 41 percent of low-income students have submitted work digitally.
Parents name teacher quality and class size as the education issues most important to them — student use of technology for school ranked third. They are also concerned about the amount of standardized testing.
- 80 percent of parents say tech has made it easier for them to be involved with their child's education.
- 78 percent of parents use technology to monitor their child's grades.
Parents also worry about their child's private information. Seventy-nine percent say they are at least somewhat, very or extremely concerned about the security and privacy of their child’s data. About three-fourths of parents worry about advertisers' access to their children, and the same amount — 72 percent — are concerned their child will find inappropriate content online.
In spite of these worries, parents remain very positive about the potential of the digital classroom. More than 71 percent of parents report technology has improved the “overall quality of education” for their child.