What are the latest trends in K-12 tablet and Chromebook deployments? The 2014 National Survey on Mobile Technology for K-12 Education — sponsored by Amplify and conducted by Interactive Educational Systems Design, Inc., and STEM Market Impact, LLC — reveals several key takeaways on the changing ed tech landscape, based on the responses of 332 district tech and media leaders nationwide.
1:1 deployments are becoming more popular
While 42% of respondents said their schools currently use mobile carts with a set of devices shared between several classrooms, that number was down from 51% in 2013 — and 20% said their schools currently have 1:1 deployments. A whopping 82% reported that, if budgets allow in the next two years, their districts plan to launch or expand a 1:1 tablet or Chromebook deployment.
Overall, 70.8% of those surveyed said mobile tech was in use in at least a quarter of the schools in their district, and 9.3% were "very likely" to implement devices in the next two years.
Tech leaders have specific expectations for mobile tech
Ed tech is hot right now, but there's more to mobile tech deployments than having flashy classrooms. Asked to choose their three most-expected benefits from a list of 13, the district tech leaders most frequently chose increased engagement, achievement, and personalization, with 24.7% pegging increased achievement as the benefit they wanted most. Respondents were also asked to choose as many as five app categories they considered most important from a list of 19. The most common choices: digital textbooks, document and multimedia creation tools, collaboration tools like Google Drive, and student productivity tools for file storage, note taking, and scheduling.
As far as how they felt mobile tech should be used in the classroom, half saw it as a tool to complete assignments, whether that be creating books, movies, or presentations; collaborating on projects; researching online; or writing and peer-editing. Just over a third saw them as a tool to integrate online content, possibly in a blended or flipped learning model. Additionally, about a quarter saw tablets or Chromebooks as a tool for class instruction, while a fifth saw the tech as tools for both course communication and learning demonstration.
Challenges continue to impede deployments
Last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District's massive $1 billion, 1:1 iPad rollout became the poster child for mobile tech deployment challenges. The infrastructure and bandwidth, security, and damage and loss issues that came into play aren't exclusive to L.A. Providing professional development and support for teachers was a challenge faced by 69.6% of those district leaders surveyed. Additionally, 60.4% reported problems when it came to managing the devices (configuration, security, updates, etc.), while 54.6% ran into trouble with insufficient bandwidth and WiFi infrastructure and 44.7% had to tangle with loss, damage, and repair policy issues.
These numbers shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, though. Kids are crafty and keeping them from figuring out how to sidestep security measures is probably a daunting task. Depending on age, they're probably a little more likely to be rough with the devices, too. And many school districts — especially in poverty-stricken areas — likely don't have the infrastructure in place already to facilitate connectivity. Those last two details in particular bring up yet another challenge: Funding.
Around 63% of district tech leaders surveyed said their schools' got funding for deployments from district tech funds, while 57% got funding from the district's general fund. Only about a third came from state grants and funding or federal grants and funding (33% and 31%, respectively). Just under a quarter (23%) of the districts in the survey used a bring-your-own-device model, with students' families pay for their mobile tech — though it goes without saying that this isn't an optimal solution for those schools in low-income areas.
For an easily digestible breakdown of the report's findings, check out Amplify's infographic below:
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