Jun 18, 2021 2021-06-18
The Covid-19 pandemic forced educators to make many changes in response to instant lockdowns and other unexpected pressures. But one thing educators who read Big Deal Media’s K-12 Technology newsletter didn’t have to change: their reliance on the newsletter as a valuable tool for finding and buying technology resources for their schools and districts.
As one reader put it, responding to a 2021 reader survey conducted by the Barrington, Ill.-based publisher of electronic newsletters focusing on top-quality, groundbreaking resources for educators:
“I have found TONS of resources and ideas. You've been a terrific help before and during the Covid shutdown.”
A total of 489 readers of the newsletter in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the Armed Forces responded to the Zarca Interactive survey between Feb. 2 and March 30, 2021. Respondents’ responsibilities are nearly evenly spread throughout grade levels from kindergarten to Grade 12, and they are mostly seasoned veterans, with 91 percent having 10 or more years of experience in education.
Thirty-four percent of responding readers hold technology-related job positions and titles, including librarian/media specialists at 14 percent and technology integration specialists at nine percent. Asked about subject-area responsibilities, 54 percent are responsible for technology and 26 percent for library/media.
Readers are advocates and buyers in purchasing process
The survey covers roles the newsletter readers play in the purchasing process. Results for each product area are as follows:
Readers were asked how much their schools and districts spent annually on technology products and services before the COVID-19 pandemic imposed the need to transition to new modes of instructions. Of those who knew how much, 30 percent said their schools spent more than $100,000 and 17 percent said more than $200,000. Fifty percent of readers who knew the amounts said their districts spent more than $100,000; 34 percent, more than $200,000; and nine percent, more than $1 million.
Of 29 products and services used in the respondents’ schools, classrooms and districts, those used by more than half are: printers and scanners, 86 percent; projectors and laptops, 74 percent; apps and desktop computers, each at 68 percent; Chromebooks, 67 percent; interactive whiteboards, 66 percent; iPads or tablets, 65 percent; online professional development, 57 percent; digital curricula, 56 percent; and software/software subscriptions, 55 percent.
Survey shows impact of pandemic on technology usage
Readers made less use of some highly publicized new products and services than they had indicated in the most recent prior survey, conducted in 2019. This was likely due to limitations that the pandemic imposed. The products showing significant decline include 3D printers, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets, and robotic devices.
As for purchasing plans in the next 12 months, 45 percent say they plan to buy Chromebooks. The remaining top 10 of 31 products and services listed are laptops at 35 percent; digital curricula, 34 percent; iPads or tablets, 28 percent; online professional development, 28 percent; apps, 26 percent; printers and scanners, 21 percent; interactive whiteboards, 20 percent; projectors, 17 percent; and cloud-based services, 16 percent.
To make these purchases, 41 percent get more than 10 percent of their budget from outside sources, such as grants, PTAs and local corporations. Seven percent get more than half their budget this way. During the pandemic, 53 percent became more interested in acquiring funds from outside sources.
All but two percent of respondents have accounts with social and professional networking websites. In a typical week, 65 percent of respondents are extremely or very likely to use one of these sites. During the pandemic, 55 percent increased their use of social media for professional purposes.
Sixty-seven percent use social media to exchange information with peers, the most popular among six purposes listed. Next leading uses are professional development, by 61 percent, and professional networking, 52 percent.
If readers could use only one of 14 networking sites for work or professional reasons, 22 percent would choose Twitter. YouTube is preferred by 21 percent (up from 14 percent in 2019); and Facebook by 19 percent. EdWeb.net is fourth at nine percent. Fifth is LinkedIn at six percent, replacing Pinterest, which fell from 10 percent in 2019 to five percent in 2021.
Newsletter features technology resources that are most important to readers
Free and inexpensive resources are rated the most important of 12 categories of information readers seek on electronic educational media. Eighty-nine percent of responding readers say they are a very or somewhat high priority. Second in importance are resources to integrate technology into the 21st century, ranked as a high priority by 80 percent. Both subjects are heavily featured in Big Deal Media’s K-12 Technology newsletter.
The next most important categories are access to online media resources (audio, video, podcasts, webinars), at 76 percent high priority; interactive web sites at 73 percent; and resources for professional growth, 72 percent.
Seventy-seven percent take advantage of free trial offers to test online services or digital apps. Ninety-six percent of readers say they participate in online webinars. But only 27 percent listen to podcasts about educational issues.
Most of the responding readers not only consider the K-12 Technology newsletter informative—often uniquely so—but act on the information they find there:
Newsletter readers find resources that they wouldn’t have found without it
Readers supported these findings with comments that show they find the K-12 Technology newsletter especially important as an eye-opener to resources they wouldn’t have known about without it:
“I have found many resources that I did not know existed. I bookmark the newsletter and refer back to it and update the link with each new newsletter. It is a very helpful resource.”
“I find many resources and share them with staff and students. I also use it for my courses that I teach to teachers on current use of technology in the classroom.”
“It has kept me current on technology trends and alerted me to opportunities for free resources, grants and information to inform my teaching.”
“Big Deal Media is my ‘go to’ before jumping off to other resources.”
“Big Deal Media has provided unlimited resources for online materials for students and teachers.”
“It has opened my eyes to new tech and is very helpful with the digital learning apps and articles that are posted. Huge stream of knowledge that has become available to use by myself and peers.”