Technology in the Classroom: A Local Survey in New York

Article excerpt

This paper explores a local survey "technology in the classroom" at was completed by administrators representing seven school districts in Nassau County, New York. I became interested in technology in the local school district when I volunteered to serve on its technology committee. I am a parent of two school-aged children and have earned an undergraduate minor degree in information science. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) asked me to attend me district's technology committee meetings, then convey the relevant information back to the PTA.

The technology committee -- composed of teachers, librarians, department heads, principals and a few parents -- met once a month and I attended meetings regularly. After attending one meeting, I volunteered to participate on a new sub-committee focusing on the World Wide Web. Approximately 10 to 20 people attended each of the committee and sub-committee meetings. The goal of the technology committee was to review and discuss the district's plans for technology growth and for surplus equipment. The sub-committee's goal was to discuss and create the district's Web page. As I attended these meetings, I began to think that it would be helpful to know what other school districts were doing in the area of technology. Specifically, I wanted to learn how we compared to neighboring districts in the use and integration of technology in K-6 classrooms. I decided independently that I would prepare a list of questions in the form of an open-ended survey and send it with a cover letter to a number of school districts. I sent the survey (see Figure One) and informed the recipients that they would receive a call to set up an appointment for an interview based on their responses. To encourage participation, I noted in the cover letter that the interview would take only 30 minutes of their time. The interviews were conducted in the educators' offices.

Figure One. Technology in the Classroom Survey

1. Number and age of computers in the classroom/labs? 2. Is there a separate computer lab? 3. Types of computers used by grade/class? 4. What types of software are used; i.e., computer-assisted instruction or other? 5. Where is hardware/software purchased? 6. Type and frequency of teacher training? 7. Description of students' computer classes? 8. Do you have Internet access? 9. What is the Internet used for? 10. E-mail ability and access? 11. Does your district have a Web page (what is its address)? 12. Who does the job of Webmaster? 13. Are students involved in the Web page? 14. How dynamic is the Web page? How often is page maintained/changed? 15. Is keyboarding taught? 16. Is the community involved in decision making regarding computer technology? 17. Technology expansion anticipated? 18. Philosophy of elementary schools regarding the curriculum with computer technology?

Some Background

My interest in the uses of technology led me to explore multiple sources. One source was the Nassau County Technology Survey Exploratory Data Analysis, prepared by BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services).[1] The Nassau BOCES Department of Planning, Research and Quality Assurance was asked by the Nassau County Superintendents' Technology Committee to develop and conduct a survey regarding technology employed in 56 public school districts across the county. The committee received responses from 37 school districts, 136 elementary buildings, and 73 middle school and high school buildings. The survey was extremely lengthy and detailed. Some of the responses were not completed with the level of detail requested. The following are some of the major findings:

* Total budget expenditure (hardware, software, technology staff development and other technology) on average for the 37 districts reporting was $250,000 annually. The size of the district correlated with its per pupil technology spending.

* More than half of the reporting districts stated that the source of technology spending came from the general budget. …