Educator Internet Use

I used the Google Documents survey tool to create a brief survey over the use of Internet tools by educators in our district. Seventy teachers responded. The survey turned out as expected, generally, with a few surprises. Some of the results:

Time spent online away from work:

  • 31% <2 hours
  • 37% 2-5 hours
  • 16% 5-10 hours
  • 16% >10 hours

(This was encouraging to me, as it is clear that they are spending quite a bit of time online, more than I would have guessed. The key is to be able to take advantage of this, by getting them interested in visiting and using sites that will enrich their instruction and help them grow as teachers.)

Types of sites being visited (percent of respondents who regularly visit each type of site):

  • News (84%)
  • Educational/Informational (76%)
  • Entertainment (41%)
  • Video (26%)
  • Medical (26%)
  • Blogs (26%)
  • Photo editing/sharing (23%)
  • Games (20%)
  • Wikis (17%)
  • Social networks (13%)
  • Other (40%)

(Teachers appear to primarily use the Internet for information gathering, rather than content creation or socializing, although it was a pleasant surprise that fully 1/4 of respondents spend regular time on Web 2.0 sites, such as blogs and social networks.)

Specific sites visited (percent of respondents who have visited each site at any time–top 10 listed only):

  • Google (91%)
  • Yahoo! (90%)
  • YouTube (76%)
  • Wikipedia (64%)
  • MySpace (50%)
  • Blogger (37%)
  • Facebook (33%)
  • Wikispaces (30%)
  • Edublogs (29%)
  • TeacherTube (24%)

(Again, there appears to be a heavy emphasis on locating/consuming information. Some sites that garnered almost no responses include Twitter (3%), Digg (3%), Bloglines (3%), and StumbleUpon (2%).)

Active participation (percent of users with active, contributing accounts at each site):

  • Yahoo! (49%)
  • Google (41%)
  • MySpace (20%)
  • Facebook (14%)
  • Blogger (11%)
  • Edublogs (10%)
  • YouTube (10%)
  • Wikipedia (6%)
  • Wikispaces (6%)
  • Wet Paint (6%)

(Assuming that the affirmative responses for the Google and Yahoo! accounts are primarily email or IM, the evidence again seems to show clearly that very few educators here are creating any content. It is encouraging to see as many social network users as the survey indicates. StumbleUpon, WordPress, and Twitter each were blanked in this category.)

The final question changed directions a bit, as I wanted to get a little feel for the resources being used in actual instruction. The percent of each tool that educators have at some point used in their instruction:

  • Photo/video sites (50%)
  • Online bookmarks (27%–I’m very dubious about this one, given the fact that 1% responded that they had a del.icio.us account. I believe the question was misunderstood.)
  • Blogs (24%)
  • Podcasts (24%)
  • Wikis (23%)
  • RSS/XML readers (9%)

I’d be interested in any feedback I could receive regarding the results of the survey and what they mean. My first reaction is that I need to be doing more to facilitate creative use of Internet tools. Far too little creative content is being created and shared by the students in our district. Any other thoughts?

3 Comments

  1. For teachers, I think you have to be very specific. Not just…here’s a cool website to use in your class…but here’s a cool website and here’s how to implement this lesson that works for your content area. I think that starts the ball rolling.

  2. I liked the fact that you were using the survey to get a better picture of what teachers were doing outside of school hours as far as internet use.

    We all have assumptions about what is going on at our campuses, but having the data help clarifies how we work with teachers.

    Great idea!

  3. Great points! Application is the key to adoption. When possible, application DURING instruction is even better.

    Carolyn, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of time teachers spent on the Web away from work and the variety of sites they used. I think I’ve been underestimating them, a bad habit.

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