Preliminary results from the 2022-23 Speak Up Research Project
Self-directed and personal – how teachers are learning about new technologies today
Featured blog post from Dr. Julie A. Evans
For many years, Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Research Project has reported on a developing trend where teachers are taking a more active role in their own professional learning – seeking out experiences and experts to inform their thinking and practices, and not relying as much on school or district provided professional development events or conferences. This same self-directed approach is also true when teachers want to learn about new technologies, apps and websites that they can use in their classroom. They no longer see that twice a year PD Day or the annual conference as the only places to learn about new technologies. Rather teachers are much more self-reliant today using their professional networks and own research skills to get up to speed on the latest technologies for classroom usage.
Based upon preliminary data results from the 2022-23 Speak Up Survey for Teachers, 77% of classroom teachers say they learn about new technologies for the classroom through recommendations from other teachers at their school or within their district. This makes sense. Teachers have long trusted their colleagues for advice about instructional practices and now are turning to these same trusted sources who can share their real-world perspective on how well certain apps or websites work in their classrooms. It also reflects how savvier teachers are in general about technology today. In 2005, only 1 in 3 teachers said they looked to their colleagues for recommendations about new technologies. Most likely that was because teachers’ knowledge and skills with technology were just emerging and so many “computer using educators” relied more on outside experts to provide those recommendations.
It is also interesting that 64% of teachers say they are finding out about new technologies through their own online research, another good indication that teachers are more comfortable today with both online research and their own abilities to know what technologies will work best in their classroom environment. Similarly, teachers are also tapping into their social media channels (38%) for digital learning ideas, reading blogs (28%) and checking in on education news sites for the latest trends and products (19%).
Teachers still value structured events such as conferences (29%) and school and district professional development events (45%) as meaningful experiences and sources of recommendations for new technologies, but simply to a lesser degree than in the past. The same is true for relying upon external experts to provide those tech recommendations. Some of the traditional sources for ed tech product information are less valued today by teachers such as the education associations they belong to (16%), and even their state department of education (4%). Reflecting that the expertise for technology use in the classroom is often already in the classroom, teachers are more likely now to say they are getting ideas about the best technology to use within instruction from their students (26%) than their own district technology department (22%).