Why Teachers Are Asking for More Tech

Years of collected data point toward more digital classrooms, but carrying them into the future won't be easy.

Over the last two decades, technology has created countless new ways for educators to engage students, but at DonorsChoose.org, as a nonprofit that fields requests for technology every day, our statistics have told us for years that it’s not enough. In 2015 we decided to do something about it, and publish the data below. Among other revelations, it shows that, while K-12 teachers recognize the value of technology, they struggle to secure the resources they need, and they need more and more all the time. After you read this, let's try to fix that.

Teachers around the country agree: Technology is critical.

The Most Critical Investment

According to our findings, teachers consistently rank technology as the most urgent expenditure schools can make – even over books.

#1 Technology

2

School Supplies

3

Books

4

Classroom Furniture

5

Field Trips

6

Magazine Subscriptions

7

Class Visitors

Access to Tech Today Leads to Jobs Tomorrow

Learning fluency in technology now means students will be able to compete in a rapidly developing job market down the road.

1,000,000 more computer science jobs than computer science students by 2020.*

“Preparing our students to survive and thrive in a technological age will not only make them more prepared to be future innovators and leaders but will also allow them to become more culturally aware and knowledgeable global citizens.”

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Mr. Daunis
Middle school teacher, Connecticut

“I wish our school could catch up to the rest of the world with regards to technology.”

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Mrs. Tiner
High school french teacher, California

“[My] students use digital resources to design engineering projects such as electrical circuits and model bridges. We build robots and program them to operate autonomously. We have so much fun with technology!”

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Ms. Brown
High school robotics teacher, California
*code.org

Technology creates a world of new possibilities.

The Future of Learning Is Personalized

Teachers are already using technology to tailor the learning experiences of their students – with a variety of tools that have never been available before.

71% of teachers see technology as critical to bolster independent reading/learning.

video camera icon

Educational videos

book icon

Independent reading/learning

folder icon

Sharing classwork or creating a portfolio

erlenmeyer flask icon

Field work and experiments

shapes and pencil

Design work, prototyping and Maker projects

The Keys to Unlocking New Interests

With the help of technology, today’s students are finding new passions…

Coding

Wildlife

Art

Safe Schools

Teachers are trying to keep up with evolving tech, but they can't do it alone.

What Teachers Need

Technology requests have risen dramatically throughout DonorsChoose.org's history.

Tablet requests have skyrocketed since 2011.

How Tablets Actually Change the Game

To prepare students for the tech-centric workplace, today’s classrooms require more than pencils and paper. Tablets are multi-purpose tools that allow teachers to add new dimensions to their lesson plans.

Tablets are the #1 technology teachers say they need the most.

“Many of my students do not get enough exposure to the 21st-century skills on a computer that they will need when they enter into the job market.

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Mr. Pine
Middle school history teacher, California

Tablets are the #1 technology teachers say they need the most.

“The visual world of technology can come alive in the hands of a deaf student with a new iPad. In addition to math, reading, and science apps, they will be able to do research on the web, communicate with each other and watch captioned educational films; a whole world of colorful motivation in their hands!”

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Mrs. Burns
Elementary special needs teacher, Washington

Preferred Apps in the Classroom:

Khan Academy

Offering a range of practice exercises and instructional videos across a variety of subjects, Khan Academy allows learners to study at their own pace.

Google Drive

With Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Hangouts, students using Google Drive have the ability to do school work and collaborate with classmates from any computer.

Code.org

The wealth of lessons available on Code.org helps teachers integrate compuer science into their lesson plans, reaching and inspiring students no matter their skill level.

Tech facilitates learning for students at every skill level.

Teaching At Every Speed

With technological resources at their fingertips, students can work at their own pace in the areas where they need help the most.

  • 84% donut chart
    84% of teachers say they use technology to help students who are struggling.
  • 75% donut chart
    75% use it to supplement learning for students more advanced than their peers.

Tech Reaches Every Student

On DonorsChoose.org, teachers leading special needs projects ask for tech more often than they ask anything else.

52% of teachers use technology to support students with special needs.

Our teachers have credited iPads with allowing them to:

Providing legally blind students the ability to easily zoom in to see instructions

Making it simple for students with physical issues to write

Improving attention spans by captivating and motivating students using the device

Giving students with vocal issues a voice with the use of alternative communication apps

Despite the importance of technology, teachers don’t have the tech they need.

The Wide Gaps of Access

Given how helpful tablets are for teachers, they want a tablet for every student.

Among teachers who have tablets in the classroom, 86% of teachers have their students share tablets.

Only 6% of teachers have a tablet for every student.

Among teachers with desktop computers in the classroom, 71% of teachers report students share computers.

Only 5% have a desktop for each child.

45%

of teachers report their school has provided technology that is broken or too old or outdated to be useful.

20%

of teachers report their students use personal cell phones for educational purposes during class time.

High-poverty schools are hurting for technology the most.

The Entire Country Struggles to Fund Technology

Despite asking for technology, teachers across the country have face different challenges to get tech into the hands of their students.

% of Tech Projects Requested That Don’t Get Funded

view this data by city, state, or school district...

High-Poverty Schools Request Technology Far Less Than Low-Poverty Schools Do

Teachers in high-poverty schools, where over 40% of students receive free or reduced-cost lunches, have to focus their time and energy on requesting traditional school supplies. They lack the resources to educate their students with technology at that customized, personalized level. The difference between the number of technology requests between the two sets is 8 percentage points.

Low-Poverty Schools

High-Poverty Schools

Digital Classrooms vs. Paper Classrooms

Books may be the most commonly requested items in both high- and low-poverty schools, but the trends for other material requests differ drastically. Teachers in low-poverty schools have more freedom to make technology requests, while teachers in high-poverty areas focus on securing basic needs like office supplies.

Low-Poverty Requests

High-Poverty Requests

To address the gaps in learning, tech needs to treated as a necessity, not a luxury.

This Problem Will Not Fix Itself

The achievement gap between high- and low-poverty students is widening, and the digital divide has the potential to further exaggerate this disparity.

40% increase in achievement between high- and low-poverty students since 1970.

This is equivalent to the gap between eighth-graders and fourth-graders.

High-income families spend 7x more on educational enrichment than low-income families.

$$$$$$$

* The Brookings Institution

The Solution

Students and teachers agree that introducing more technology to the learning process is essential to changing educational experiences and opening doors in the future.

  • 90%

    of students say that tablets will change the way they learn.
  • 80%

    say that tablets let them learn in a way that's best for them.
  • 62%

    say they want to use laptops "a great deal" during the next school year.

“Technology is the future. We need to get kids tech-savy so they can compete on a leveled playing field in our society. I teach in a high poverty, inner city school. Many of my students are depending on the school to prepare them and enrich them for life beyond the classroom. Integrating technology into lessons and independent studies will help them be prepared with a stronger skill set.”

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Ms. Kirschenbaum
Elementary teacher, Washington D.C.

“At this point, it seems as if only the students that come from privileged backgrounds are able to access to today's most modern and current technology, and use it to their advantage. There are students that are exposed to technology in school, yet have no follow up at home. Their practice and exposure is limited to school hours and is shared with multiple other students. Technology presents the unknown to our students and allows them to expand.”

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Ms. Haynes
Elementary teacher, California
* Pearson

For more information, explore our open datasets

Teachers, request tech and other supplies

Search for technology requests to support

Methodology

DonorsChoose.org conducted a nationwide survey of 1,622 teachers who had successfully used our site to fund classroom technology projects in the 2014-2015 school year. Additionally, we pulled data from the DonorsChoose.org database—publicly available through our data blog and our impact page—and analyzed 15 years worth of data from more than 618,000 classroom projects in public schools.

Taking the Next Steps with Coding and Computer Science!

Students at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago have become very interested in coding and are motivated to take their skills to the next level to change the tech landscape.

"Computer science students, on average, are only 18% female, 3% black, and 8% Hispanic. My students are such motivated learners, many of them have taken up coding as an extracurricular activity in order to improve this statistic!"

OpenROV Fish Study

On a remote island in Alaska, students at Metlakatla High school are building an underwater robot to help local fish and wildlife agencies conduct research.

"By completing such an in-depth, technical project, the students have become very passionate about the project and school in general. At some point, it changed from an assignment to something more personal."

iPads in The Hands of Young Artists Will Change The World!

Young artists at Wilson Creek Elementary in Georgia are using iPads to create projects that demonstrate how fun STEM can be.

"It is my hope that my students will not just become the next great artists, but the next inventors, scientists, engineers, and minds."

Mrs. Dreher Hattingh

Stop Bullying Through Technology

In one of the toughest neighborhoods in New York City, middle schoolers are using Chromebooks to reflect on their bullying experiences and educate the rest of the school.

"Bullying has become an epidemic in our schools. It is our goal to stop bullying in its tracks."