As America’s teachers get ready to go back to school, some are not prepared to help students step into the information age, a survey suggests.
Teachers listed lack of time, training, knowledge as well as funds as reasons they are not using computers, on-line services, cable television, CD-ROMs, laser discs and the global computer network Internet in their classrooms.
“The opportunity to learn on the job leaps out,” said Bill Martin, spokesman for the National Education Association, one of five groups that commissioned the study.
He said provisions should be made for teachers to learn on school time, not personal time.
As for using the Internet in the classroom, 33.5 percent of the teachers said lack of time was an obstacle, 31.8 percent cited lack of knowledge about the service and 28.2 percent said lack of training was a barrier. School administrators identified the same factors.
Lack of funds was cited as a barrier to Internet use by 27.5 per cent of the teachers and 29.7 percent of the principals.
Unlike commercial on-line services provided through companies like America Online and Prodigy, people are not charged a fee for using the Internet.
But schools need to buy software and have telephone lines in the classroom - something most schools don’t have and can’t afford - to tap into the Internet. And, if students want to pluck information off the network, the schools need modems connected to the computers.
Still, the survey found 85 percent of teachers used computers in the classroom in the last year, which was far greater than what many education officials say they had expected. Fiftyeight percent of the teachers said they used educational cable programs in the classroom in the last year, but few teachers used the Internet and on-line services during the same period.
The survey was based on 1,000 telephone interviews of elementary and secondary teachers, media coordinators and administrators conducted in April and May. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Washington-based Malarkey-Taylor Associates Inc. and Denver-based Quality Education Data Inc., conducted the study for the NEA, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the American Association of School Administrators and Cable in the Classroom, a non-profit group supported by the cable industry.