Just what do teachers want when it comes to resources for their classroom and practice? The University of Southern California (USC) took to one of the most popular destinations for educators--the Twittersphere--to find out.
In August 2014, the USC Rossier School of Education surveyed 310 educator participants, primarily reaching out to the weekly Tuesday Twitter #edchat crowd. While only approximately half of survey responders were actually #edchat users, the findings (seen here) give insights into what a cross-section of educators--social media users or not--want from edtech, professional development, and the online learning experience.
Biggest Concerns: Technology in the Classroom and Professional Development
While subjects like Common Core and teacher tenure get frequently reported in the media, the largest percentage (65%) of survey respondents say that technology in the classroom is an area that requires attention in the near future, and 58% rated professional development as a second big concern. Only 27% cited Common Core, a surprisingly low number that puts it near the bottom of the barrel of priorities like classroom size (28%) and standardized testing (21%).
Get on Social Media, or Get Left Behind
Of the various professional development opportunities available, social media reigned supreme as the most popular way for educators to keep themselves up to speed on current issues in the education world. And while the report does note, “Most survey participants were pooled from social media websites, resulting in a sampling bias,” other sources of information educators use to stay afloat extend beyond social media--Internet search, blogs, academic/education conferences, and news articles all topped 70% (see graph to the right).
The majority of respondents (not surprisingly) listed Twitter as the most popular social media tool for both staying informed (77%) and acquiring teacher resources (66%). “For a while, I was co-moderating a chat for administrators,” says one administrator from San Mateo, CA. “As a result of those efforts, I now have a PLN that stretches across the country that pushes me to improve every day.”
But perhaps a more noteworthy stat is that only 4% of respondents say they do not use social media to stay informed on education. And in addition to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest all have a place in various educators’ social calendars. In fact, Pinterest takes second place as the most popular platform for teachers to find teaching resources (see below to the right).
The Professional Development that Educators Want--But Aren’t Getting
Within their respective teaching environment, educators are finding that formal training is hard to come by; only 54% of respondents reported adequate professional development opportunities at their schools/organizations (see to the right).
Nevertheless, educators are moving outside of their respective places of employment to seek the PD they need--so where could they use more online training tools and support?
- Soft skills like strategic planning, managing expectations and performance, business administration, leadership, and conflict resolution were all reported to be top priority for educators. One recommendation the report gives: “School administrators can provide soft skill education by utilizing resources available for professionals in other industries (i.e., online videos, courses or other resources).”
- Audio creation and livestreaming: The USC Survey asked educators about their proficiency in several key technology-heavy areas including microblogging, collaborative content, and file management. Audio creation with tools like Garageband and livestreaming events had the highest percentage of responders (over 20% each) who were interested in learning more, but needed “major support.”
- Proficiency in digital notebooks: 14% of responders expressed needing major support in this area, and while small, PD for tools like Livebinders and Evernote could easily fill this void.
Check out more findings and results here from the USC #edchat survey, or share your own thoughts on the sections listed above in our comments section below.