As a former educator, I’ve always been conscious of the parent’s role – essentially as their child’s first teacher – and their unique, valuable perspective on learning. Parents remember the ways they were taught in school and often have valid questions and thoughts on the new ways children learn, and about the curriculum being taught.
With summer coming to an end and parents sending their children back to school, Microsoft wanted to understand how parents felt about technology in the classroom. What did they really think of the importance of learning digital skills? Microsoft Education partnered with YouGov and surveyed parents in the U.S. with children aged 18 and under and found most parents are hopeful about what technology will do for their kids. [Download the accompanying infographic here.]
Parents optimistic about technology
The survey asked parents how they felt about the role of technology in their child’s life as that child grows up. In reply, 60 percent said they felt “optimistic” or “hopeful.”
Understandably, parents felt differently about tech depending on where it’s being used. When asked about tech use between home and school, 63 percent of parents cited concerns about their kids spending too much time on devices at home, while 86 percent of parents believed tech in school – including computers and educational software – would be helpful to their child’s education.
When I was teaching I would often talk to parents about screen-content, not just screen-time, and whether the engagement with digital content was active (like creating an animation) or passive (viewing a movie). It’s encouraging seeing parents understand that, when used in the right way, technology can help prepare their children for the jobs of the future and help them succeed.
The importance of Computer Science and learning digital skills
Using technology to learn isn’t the only way to prepare children for the future, however. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 52 percent of job growth by the year 2020 will be in the fields of computing and mathematics, which shows a great importance in teaching Computer Science and digital skills in classrooms today.
According to the survey, half (50 percent) of parents believed coding and computer programming to be the most beneficial subject to their child’s future employability.
Another promising result: Parents felt strongly about the positive role federal and state governments can play in ensuring their children are learning these subjects. The survey sample indicated strongly that parents would like to see increased government support to help schools build kids’ digital skills.
When asked about the technology industry’s involvement, 75 percent of parents said they believe big tech companies should be involved in helping schools build kids’ digital skills. Many companies, including Microsoft and organizations like Code.org, are working to do just that. Programs like TEALS, which is supported by Microsoft Philanthropies, pairs trained Computer Science professionals from across the technology industry with classroom teachers to team-teach the subject.
Tech tips for teachers this school year
With parents seeing the importance of their children learning with technology and being taught Computer Science, coding and digital skills, the survey points to good news for teachers who work every day to ensure the children in their classrooms are prepared for the future.
Teachers work incredibly hard to bring the best and most inspiring learning opportunities to their classrooms. We celebrate and thank them.
For those teachers just starting to explore the potential of Computer Science in their classroom, I’d recommend these three simple approaches:
- Open up the conversation with your students. What do they understand CS to mean? What jobs are unlocked with CS?
- Take a short course and get started in Computer Science.
- Get involved with the Hour of Code.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3927 adults, of which 1011 were parents of children under 19. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd – 6th August 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults.