How many new digital tools are teachers using now?

Newly adopted ed-tech includes learning management and assessments systems, and new parent communication tools
By: | December 15, 2020
With new ed tech, teachers stress ease of use for students, high student engagement and ability to easily differentiate instruction for students. (GettyImages/miodrag ignjatovic)With new ed tech, teachers stress ease of use for students, high student engagement and ability to easily differentiate instruction for students. (GettyImages/miodrag ignjatovic)

You knew your teachers were using a lot more ed-tech, but a new survey has quantified just how many digital tools they’re now using for daily instruction.

Seven!

What’s more, nearly three-quarters of teachers, spanning K-12, reported adopting several digital learning tools this school year that they hadn’t used in 2019-2020, according to a survey by Teachers Pay Teachers.

“There’s been a seismic shift, and education is at an incredible inflection point,” says Michelle Cummings, vice president of content for Teachers Pay Teachers, the online marketplace for teacher-created materials. “We’re not going back to the way things used to be.”


More from DA: FETC preview—Why education can’t return to normal post-COVID


More than half of teachers reported introducing three to five new digital tools this year.

The new ed-tech includes learning management and assessments systems, and new parent communication tools, Cummings says.

Perhaps not surprisingly, about half of the teachers surveyed are feeling overwhelmed by the new instructional technology, with many saying it takes about five hours to learn how to use a new tool.

That means teachers need ongoing and job-embedded professional development to smooth the adoption of new tools, Cummings says.

At the same time, a majority of teachers say digital tools are effective and keep students engaged, whether learners are in-person or participating in online learning.

Most teachers also said the following factors are very or extremely important when selecting digital tools:

  • Ease of use for students and teachers
  • High student engagement with the tools
  • Ability to easily differentiate instruction for students

“A hallmark of school districts that are finding good solutions for students are administators who have tapped into the genius of teachers to lead their schools into unexplored territory,” Cummings says. “I hope we use this incredibly disruptive crisis to make an extraordinary leap forward in education.”


More from DA: 3 alternatives to requiring video in online learning


Post-pandemic, digital tools will remain a critical part of K-12 education, even as students and staff get vaccinated and return in-person to classrooms, says Kelly Huff, director of secondary instruction at Alleghany County Public Schools, a rural district in Virginia.

Online learning will remain an option in her district when, for example, a high school student has to stay home to care for a younger sibling who is ill, Huff says

“COVID has taught us that we were doing things because that’s how they were always done,” she says. “It’s made us question if we need to do it that way.”


Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.