Teachers lack the confidence to teach technology

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There is a big gap between the technological skills required for the workforce of the future and the capacity of the teachers to prepare the students to meet those needs.

Photo: Bigstock

In an era where the idea that hard work and willpower is enough to succeed does not seem to cut it, the need for technological skills has never been so urgent.

A study by PWC says that, by 2020, 77% of all jobs in the United States will require a certain degree of digital skills, and jobs will outweigh applicants by a million in technology positions. 79% of American CEOs are worried that this shortage of prepared graduates will impact the companies’ growth.

The digital tools needed to succeed are referred to as higher-education technology, and include skills like data analytics, computer programming languages, website design/creation, and robotics.

But, are teachers prepared to close the gap between essential technological preparation and the skills needed by the workforce?

The study found six prominent trends according to educators:

  1. Teachers do not feel confident teaching higher-education technology. Only 10% of the 2,000 K-12 teachers think optimistic about adding higher-level technology into their teaching.

    1. Only 17% of said 2,000 teachers feel prepared to teach web design/creation, 12% robotics, 11% data analytics or graphic design, 8% computer programming, 7% engineering design and just 5% app design or creation.

  2. High-schools need more digital skill classes. Just 35% of high school teachers said their schools offer creation or designing apps syllabi, and only 20% have data analytics.

    1. From the higher-education technology subjects offered in high schools; the most popular are computer fundaments (76%), graphic design (66%), Engineering design (63%), web design/creation (59%), robotics (58%), programming (54%), app design (35%) and data analytics (20%). More schools need to teach app design and data analytics to prepare high school students better.

  3. Lack of actively practicing technology in class. The use of digital skills is passive in 60% of the classrooms (watching videos, reading online content), compared to 32%  that are active (using data analysis, coding).

  4. Teachers lack support from their districts. 79% of the teachers said they would like more professional development, 81% more time or funds to attend professional improvement or more curriculums or course materials.

  5. Outside of school, the access to technology is limited. 48% of teachers noted that some students do not have access to devices at home and 54% lack internet access. Moreover, only 36% of the teachers surveyed said the school has at least one device per student.

  6. In undeserved schools, students have a lower opportunity to access technology at home. 64% of teachers detailed that their students lack digital devices at home and that 69% do not have internet. In upscale schools, on the other hand, only 27% don’t have tools at home, and only 30% do not have internet.

Teachers need to be trained in higher-education technology subjects to narrow the gap between the digital skills urgently needed by the workforce and the preparation of the students. By doing so, they can obtain the confidence to make students go from consuming technology to create technology and providing the tools to be successful in the jobs of tomorrow.