Future of Learning

An ‘enormous’ increase in classroom technology for the littlest learners

More than half of preschool teachers report use of tablets, according to new survey

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than half of the nation’s preschool teachers say they have tablet computers in the classroom – nearly double what was reported just two years earlier.

“That’s an enormous jump,” said Ellen Wartella, a professor at Northwestern University and author of a study that surveyed 945 preschool teachers in 2015. “We were shocked by that.”

About 55 percent of preschool teachers reported they have a tablet computer, such as an iPad, in the classroom, Wartella said during a presentation last week in Washington, D.C. Two years earlier just 29 percent of these teachers reported using these devices. Wartella shared some of the findings from the soon-to-be-released 2015 version of the survey during a Northwestern University a panel discussion Tuesday.

It wasn’t all that long ago that experts were debating the suitability of technology for young children, Wartella said. The survey reveals rapidly growing acceptance of these tools in classrooms for the littlest learners.

The tablets are still mainly for adult use, the survey found. Teachers use them to contact parents and for administrative work. But students are increasingly getting access to the technology, too, Wartella said. Another important finding from the survey: Teachers of preschool students from poorer families are just about as likely to have access to technology in the classroom as children from more affluent backgrounds.

This story was written by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about blended learning.

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Nichole Dobo is the senior engagement editor and a writer. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic's online edition, Mind/Shift,… See Archive

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