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The Status of Computer and Internet Use in Schools

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

In 2006, the National Center for Educational Statistics released a report titled, Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994–2005 (Wells & Lewis, 2006). This review of 10 years of changes in schools listed a number of key observations. In this text we share the findings. The main point of this information is to provide some context for the world in which you will enter when you take your first teaching position.

Key Points (Based on Data Collected in 2005 from Public Schools)

  • Nearly 100 percent of public schools in the United States have access to the Internet. In 1994, this was true of only 35 percent of schools. Ninety-seven percent of the access is broadband and 45 percent of schools also have wireless access.
  • Researchers found no differences in school Internet access by any school characteristics.
  • The ratio of students to instructional computers with Internet access in public schools is 3.8 to 1. The ratio of students to instructional computers varied by all school characteristics. For example, small schools had better student-to-computer ratios than medium-size and large schools (2.4 to 1 compared with 3.9 to 1 and 4.0 to 1, respectively). In addition, schools with the lowest level of minority enrollment had better student-to-computer ratios than schools with higher minority enrollments.
  • Nineteen percent of public schools provide handheld computers (PDAs) to either students or teachers for instructional purposes. The overwhelming majority of school-provided PDAs are provided to teachers, not students.
  • Ten percent of public schools lend laptop computers to students. In these schools, 47 percent report that students can borrow them for less than 1 week, 17 percent report that students can borrow them for a period of 1 week to less than 1 month, 16 percent report lending laptops for the entire school year, and 5 percent report lending laptops for some other maximum length of time.
  • Of the 90 percent of schools without laptop computers available for loan to students, 3 percent are planning to make laptops available for students to borrow during the next school year.
  • Eighty-three percent of public schools with Internet access indicate that their school or school district has offered professional development to teachers in their school on how to integrate the use of the Internet into the curriculum in the year prior to completing the survey.
  • Eighty-nine percent of schools indicate they use the Internet to provide data to inform instructional planning at the school level.
  • Eighty-seven percent of schools report using the Internet to provide assessment results and data for teachers to use to individualize instruction.
  • Eighty-seven percent of schools report using high-quality digital content for teaching (i.e., learning materials brought in from the Web, such as digital libraries and museums, or any text, images, sounds, and video that have been digitized).
  • Fifty-one percent report providing online professional development courses to teachers.
  • Thirty-two percent provide access for students to online distance learning for courses that are otherwise unavailable at the school.
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