Teaching in 2030: barriers to tech use

Wednesday, 08 July, 2020

Teaching in 2030: barriers to tech use

Recent fast-paced change has led Microsoft to partner with The Economist Intelligence Unit to develop the Staff of 2030: Future-Ready Teaching report. Over 1000 early-career and student teachers in primary and secondary schools from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Poland, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed to gauge attitudes toward curriculum reform, teaching practices, technology and the workplace environment.

The use of technology

A majority of respondents (60%) think that new teachers will increase the use of technology in the classroom by 2030, yet only 38% feel their training is equipping them to use digital technology. The report’s authors find this a worrying number given that digital competency is now entering curricula globally and that technology is anticipated to play an increasingly important role in the classroom. 

The report says curricula are evolving to equip students for the fast-paced challenges and opportunities of online life. For example, online citizenship — such as teaching students critical thinking skills so they can detect ‘fake news’ and misinformation — is entering schooling. Online ethics around cyberbullying, trolling and hate speech are also becoming part of the teaching agenda, while efforts to help young people learn about privacy and data security are increasingly warranted as they spend more time online.

About half of the respondents believe that technology should augment rather than replace teaching, with the top three perceived benefits identified as offering more engaging learning experiences (36%), enabling self-directed learning (31%) and preparing students for a tech-centric labour market (30%). 

The top four barriers to achieving positive educational outcomes using technology in the classroom were lack of sufficient technology tools for students (36%), insufficient technology training for teachers (35%), inadequate technical support (31%) and a lack of teacher time to prepare to use technology in the classroom (30%). These all significantly outranked lack of leadership support, technology complexity and unreliable internet as barriers to positive outcomes. 

Optimism fades

The report focused on up-and-coming teachers as the two youngest generations (millennials and Generation Z) will comprise nearly 70% of the workforce over the course of the next decade while the previous three generations are still in the workplace. Generation Z currently sits in the classroom as K–12 students, in higher education institutions training to be teachers, and in the staffroom. As the largest generation ever, members of this cohort will soon be in the staffroom in large numbers.

The survey detected notable difference in attitudes between student teachers and early-career teachers and found that optimism fades when trainees start working. Student teachers tend to find positive potential benefits in technology use including a reduction of time spent on administrative tasks. They also rank the importance of innovation in teaching and learning higher than their early-career counterparts. 

For further information, to download the full white paper or to watch a video overview, visit the Microsoft Education website here.

Image credit: stock.adobe.com/au/zsirosistvan

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