Educators, Technology and 21st Century Skills: Dispelling Five Myths A Study on the Connection Between K–12 Technology Use and 21st Century Skills

This study looks at the role of technology in 21st century education. 

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Walden University
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This study aimed shed light on the debates and intersections of technology and 21st century skills from the vantage point of school-based educators, particularly the beliefs of educators around the potential benefit of using technology and fostering 21st century skills for their students. The findings are based on a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. educators. This report addresses five myths:

  1. Teachers who are newer to the profession and teachers who have greater access to technology are more likely to use technology frequently for instruction than other teachers. 
  2. Only high-achieving students benefit from using technology.
  3. Given that students today are comfortable with technology, teachers' use of technology is less important to student learning.
  4. Teachers and administrators have shared understandings about classroom technology use and 21st century skills.
  5. Teachers feel well prepared by initial teacher preparation programs to effectively incorporate technology into classroom instruction to foster 21st century skills.
What the experts say

This resource presents an argument for 21st century skills for K-12 education. Although the questions asked and the surveys themselves were implemented among K-12 personnel, the findings and subsequent recommendations might apply even more strongly to adult education programs, their administrators, instructors, students, and policy makers. Although students were not surveyed in this report, the findings in dispelling myths ring true for adult education students, whose technology skills may be lower than those in public K-12 schools.

Application of the survey results and the recommendations made can benefit adult education instructors. This resource is valuable in that it shares good information regarding the implementation and use of technology in classroom instruction. The information herein provides an important example of what adult education classrooms should also be striving for -- the increased use of technology in classroom for the furtherance of traditional subject matter in addition to the teaching of 21st Century skills and tools. It can be argued that these skills will benefit adult learners as much or more than the K-12 population.

The survey results articulated in this resource could be well used to chart a course for professional development for adult educators seeking information regarding integrating technology into their classrooms. The survey results could also be used as evidence that the implementation and use of technology in all classrooms -- K-12, Post-Secondary, and Adult -- is of paramount importance, and as a basic for seeking funding or support from the institutional, state, or federal level.

A few key points of interest and applicability for adult education include:

  • Most teachers in adult education are also not adequately trained well, if at all, to use technology and to implement 21st Century Skills in instruction. That is especially true where states do not have adult education standards for qualification matched to those skills. The comments on the types of training needed apply to both groups. More training in both tech skills and 21st Century skills need to take place.
  • Just as in K-12, many adult education teachers “do not rely on technology routinely in their work “The reasons for this are not the obvious ones. The survey findings dispel a number of myths in this regard.” It’s not teachers’ lack of access to technology or background factors that may matter the most, according to the survey findings. Instead, the biggest barrier by far is many teachers’ belief that technology is not necessary for student learning—their core work” If survey findings are correct, more needs to be done in adult education to create receptivity among instructors to become more technically skilled by raising their awareness of the benefits of technology in reinforcing 21st Century skills among students. 
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