The rural districts served by the Central Rivers Area Education Agency in Iowa have invested in technology to assist teachers in supporting the development in students. A recent study from REL Midwest evaluates the extent to which rural Iowa teachers use technology and how they perceive school support for technology use in instruction. In particular, it seeks to determine the extent to which teachers have integrated technology to develop the 21st century skills emphasized by the Iowa Core Standards: collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.
- 44–51 percent of teachers asked students to use technology for collaboration and critical thinking, and 22–27 percent asked students to use technology for communication and creativity.
- Math teachers were among the least likely to ask students to use technology for communication, collaboration, and creativity.
- 78 percent of teachers agreed that technology enhances student learning and that they have the ability to integrate technology with instruction.
- 93 percent of teachers reported having access to computers for students, and 64 percent reported that technical support is above average or excellent.
- 36 percent of teachers rated the quality of technology-focused professional development as above average or excellent.
The findings suggest that although students frequently use technology in the classroom, they are not frequently using technology in ways that are believed to support the development of the 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. This suggests a need for professional learning on building teacher capacity to use technology in ways that support developing these skills.