Red Lion survey shows tech divide between parents, teachers

Junior Gonzalez
  • A survey polling nearly 2,100 students, teachers and parents was shared during Thursday's board meeting.
  • Parents and students overwhelmingly preferred a hybrid classroom environment that incorporates technology.
  • Nearly 80 percent of teachers said they used a traditional teaching format, a reverse of parents' desires.

The Red Lion Area School District is considering making changes after seeing a dramatic shift among students and parents who now prefer an education model that relies heavily on technology and the internet.

That shift was one of the key findings in this year's annual survey of parents, students and teachers. The results, released at last week's school board meeting, also suggest most educators aren't keeping up with those changing attitudes, relying instead on traditional teaching methods.

Red Lion Supervisor of Instructional Practice & Technology Integration Timothy Smith explained the survey and its results at Thursday’s meeting.

Created by the organization Project Tomorrow, the survey aims to better inform educators on the needs and desires of the communities they serve, he said. The questionnaire. available from last October to January, received responses from 1,938 students, 73 teachers and 75 parents.

Respondents answered a range of questions from general inquiries, such as what devices they own, to specific questions about how they prefer to see classes taught in the district.

Parents: Parents were asked what college and workplace skills they found to be important for their children to learn. The majority (87 percent) of parents chose critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Other options included the ability to learn new skills independently and the ability to work with a diverse group of people.

The consensus was even greater on implementing instructional technology in the classroom. Ninety-two percent of parents said they found computer integration to curriculum as either important or extremely important to their child's academic success.

Parents had few concerns about their child’s personal information not being sufficiently protected (10 percent). Instead, parents were more concerned about how the use of technology varies from teacher to teacher (59 percent).

Nontraditional: The survey also asked parents what form of education they found to be best for their child to succeed in school.

Out of the three options — traditional, blended (partial in-class instruction and online curriculum) and flipped (majority online instruction and classroom time devoted to discussion and remediation) — the nontraditional learning methods were preferred by parents. More than 81 percent of parents chose either blended learning (54 percent) or a flipped classroom (27 percent).

“Blended learning and flipped classrooms have revolutionized the way we learn because today’s modern learners learn differently,” Smith said.

Students: Students indicated technology should be an essential part of the classroom. An average of 78 percent of students from third to 12th grade said a Google Chromebook or laptop would increase the potential for academic success at school.

Smartphone apps to learn, complete and turn in assignments were popular among most students (more than 70 percent). Not surprisingly, an overwhelming number of high school students already own a smartphone (95 percent).

A slight majority of students said incorporating technology better increased their control and understanding of the curriculum.

Online learning also helps relieve the burden of falling behind, according to students. A majority said using technology to work at their own pace would help them with learning.

Teachers: Teachers were asked similar questions, including what kind of classroom instruction method they used. Most are still on the side of an old-fashioned classroom setting, with 79 percent saying they use the traditional instructing format.

Smith said the high levels of traditional teaching among teachers suggest a disconnect.

“Our community and our parents and our students are asking for this type of setting,” Smith said of the nontraditional teaching formats. “That's a call to arms for us.”

Even though most teachers use a traditional setting, a similar percentage (80 percent) believe technology in the classroom increases student engagement.

Teachers fell in line with parents and students regarding devices in the classroom, with 75 percent saying they believed having a laptop for every student in the school would increase potential to academic success.

Smith says his technology department looks forward in helping the district transition to a more blended environment.

“We’re making a shift in education, not just at Red Lion, but everywhere else,” he said. “We’re moving in a direction where we’re utilizing modern tools and modern skills to educate our kids.”