Common Sense Census: Taking Stock

Common Sense Education is a highly respected organization that delivers research-based information and resources to educators. As such, the organization periodically takes stock of what is happening in classrooms across the country to inform their decisions moving forward, and to support all stakeholders in making smart decisions related to educational technology.

A recently published report, The Common Sense Census: Inside the 21st Century Classroom, is now available for viewing. This study looks at what technology is being used in classrooms, popular digital citizenship topics, and technology-related concerns raised by teachers. In this report, a small group of teachers from the Midwest participated in focus group interviews, with an online questionnaire administered to a larger (over 1,000 participants) group.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Most schools across the country are teaching digital citizenship
  • Teachers generally believe digital citizenship is essential in helping students make smart and safe online decisions
  • Evaluating digital content remains a top priority/concern of teachers
  • Video-streaming services tend to be the most popular ed tech resources
  • Digital creation tools – while popular – are not yet widely used
  • Effective educational technology PD is often inconsistent
  • Home access to technology is an issue for schools that serve lower-income students

The prevalence of digital citizenship teaching, and teacher beliefs about its effectiveness, is promising. Concepts around digital drama, cyberbullying, and privacy/safety were reported to be the most frequently taught aspects of digital citizenship. In general, the teachers interviewed were very positive about the digital citizenship curricula they used. Many teachers that received digital citizenship professional development were working within schools that had an official digital citizenship policy.

Another strong finding from the study is that teacher’s use of technology is, of course, heavily influenced by their beliefs and perspectives about technology. Most striking to me in this report is that there is a gap between what teachers say is effective, and what they actually use. For example, presentation tools and assistive technology are often reported as effective, yet other digital tools (such as video streaming) are used most often. This means that authentic, targeted professional development continues to be essential in supporting and encouraging the use of innovative ed tech tools. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your ed tech TOSA if you are interested in learning more about ed tech resources, getting support with planning or implementation, or would like targeted training/planning.

You can find the full 50+ page report here, as well as a summary infographic here.

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