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Walker Sands Evaluation of Edtech: What Technology Means to Educators Across America

Jeff Stehlin

If you’re reading this blog post, you likely have education to thank for something.

Maybe a class in high school sparked an interest in your current career, or a skill you learned in college found practical applications in the real world. It goes back even further to learning to read and write in elementary school. There’s a reason Malcolm X referred to education as “the passport to the future,” and Nelson Mandela called it “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education is key.

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While the importance of education is well documented, what’s less understood are the technologies and solutions that make teaching possible. That’s why the Walker Sands Communications’ education technology (edtech) team made it our mission to find out.

In a survey of more than 500 U.S. education professionals, we explored edtech successes and frustrations, as well as future technology goals and desires. Today’s education environment is primed for greater edtech disruption and adoption, but the 2017 Walker Sands Evaluation of EdTech report found that the relationships between schools/universities and the technologies they use are complex. In the world of edtech, it seems that one plus one doesn’t always equal two.

When it comes to overall feelings about edtech, the report found that:

  • Current edtech is often limited, but educators’ belief in the technology’s strengths outweighs initial reservations

    Only 13 percent of teachers give their school/university an ‘A’ when asked to rank their available technology’s ability to improve the learning experience for students. However, teachers don’t seem to hold a grudge. Despite this less than stellar rating, educators are optimistic about edtech’s future positive impact, with goals including a way to better engage students, access to more academic resources and a means to better prepare students for academic success.

  • Cost is king, and funding is the jester

    Education professionals rank cost as their top concern when making edtech purchasing decisions, and for good reason. Just over half (55 percent) of education professionals feel their school/university invests enough funding in education technologies, and a third of teachers (31 percent) expect their out-of-pocket spending for classroom technologies to increase in the upcoming calendar school year.

  • Edtech interests are as diverse as the teachers and students they’re meant to help

    Education professionals are most excited about presentation tools, textbook and content services and classroom efficiency technologies. However, future edtech investments can create big hurdles to overcome. Top pain points experienced when using education technologies in the classroom include distractedness, price and alienation, and edtech providers must find ways to solve for these deficiencies.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 11.06.21 AMBridging the gap between vision and reality will be the biggest challenge for edtech providers moving forward. Fortunately, the foundations to do so exist. Teachers see the potential value of edtech, even if they’re not 100 percent sold just yet. Educational institutions are eager to embrace edtech, even if investment is not an immediate option. And today’s students, who are digital natives with an impressive tech savvy, are well-suited to make edtech work, even if it’s absent from their current educational environment.

Edtech has many educators excited, and we’re feeling pretty enthusiastic about it, too. Because, like we said, we all have a lot to thank education for.

Curious what else we learned? Download the full Walker Sands Evaluation of EdTech report to learn more about the state of edtech in America, or watch our video on the report here. Stay tuned for more insights and analysis on our blog!