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No Experience Factor in Ed-Tech Teaching?

A new report released Monday at the ISTE 2010 ed-tech conference here in Denver finds that less-experienced teachers who are largely younger and fresh out of teacher training programs are no more likely to use technology in the classroom than more experienced, veteran teachers.

The finding, one of five "myths" refuted about teachers and technology in the study from the partnership of the online Walden University and research firm Grunwald Associates, may challenge the oft-held assumption that growing up technology literate translates to being comfortable using it as a teaching tool. But it also could be indicative of a new era of digital literacy, where technology's prevalence has been long and broad enough to cover new and experienced teachers.

"Even teachers who've been in service for a while have had some exposure to technology," said Peter Grunwald, president of Grunwald Associates, "so the differences [of] technology use are probably more attributed to individual personalities and predisposition to learn themselves."

The study analyzes results from a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 K-12 teachers, principals, and assistant principals.

Among its other findings were that administrators and teachers often differ vastly about how best to support technology use in schools, and that teachers don't feel they receive enough professional development to help them effectively integrate available technology into their classrooms.

As for the teacher-student dynamic, the report says teachers' technological skill is the key component to how much value a student gets out of classroom technology, regardless of the student's own digital savvy. And, it adds, students of all levels appear to benefit equally from classroom integration of technology.

Some of the myths, Grunwald conceded, have been long debunked among ed-tech professionals. But they are still common outside such circles, insisted Victoria Reid, vice president of the Walden University's Riley College of Education and Leadership.

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