Americans willing to pay for edtech in schools

The DigitalDivideNetwork.org has released the results of a survey on using tax money for net access.

The survey, which polled 1900 respondents nationwide, found that over
three-quarters (76%) of those surveyed support the use of tax dollars to
train teachers to use the Internet. Additionally, 65% said they would
support the use of tax money to fund Internet access for libraries, and 60%
supported the government\'s role in bringing access to America\'s schools.The survey, which polled 1900 respondents nationwide, found that over
three-quarters (76%) of those surveyed support the use of tax dollars to
train teachers to use the Internet. Additionally, 65% said they would
support the use of tax money to fund Internet access for libraries, and 60%
supported the government\'s role in bringing access to America\'s schools.


\"As this survey and others have recently demonstrated, there is broad public
support for the government connecting schools and libraries to the
Internet,\" stated Andy Carvin, Senior Associate of the Benton Foundation\'s
Communications Policy Program, and a member of the Digital Media Forum.
\"There\'s also a strong recognition of the importance of funding edtech
professional development for teachers. If educators lack the skills to use
these tools, simply providing ample access to the Internet will only lead to
limited educational success.\"


Recognizing the Internet as a Key to Long-Term Personal Growth


It should come as little surprise that public support for edtech training
and wired classrooms is strong, for more and more people are going online
specifically to enhance their own skills and career opportunities. For
example, according to the DMF survey, 71% of Internet users claimed that
they had gone online for educational reasons. This percentage is a
significant increase from 1999, when only 36% of Internet users went online
for educational purposes.


Similarly, individuals give the Internet high marks when it comes to
boosting their educations and careers. When asked why people felt Internet
access was important, 71% stated the Net could enhance their educational
level, while an additional 86% claimed the Net would help their children
learn more. Additionally, 95% of respondents - 19 out of 20 people - stated
that the Internet was vital for work skills, while 88% stated they used the
Net for \"personal success.\"


\"It\'s becoming clearer than ever that people regard the Internet as a vital
instrument for lifelong learning and personal enhancement,\" Carvin
explained. \"Whether they\'re going online to take a community college course
or to explore career opportunities in a new field, citizens have embraced
the Net as a way to increase their overall quality of life.\"


\"The data shows that education and skills are two of the pillars on which
participation in the increasingly important online world are built,\" added
Dr. Mark Cooper, Director of Research of the Consumer Federation of America,
one of the groups participating in the DMF. \"Public support for programs
that enhance computer and Internet capabilities of people reflects this
profound understanding of the technological changes surging throughout
society.\"


Continuing Worries over Inappropriate Materials


Despite the public\'s positive regard for the Internet as an educational
tool, citizens continue to have concerns over the types of materials they
might find in cyberspace. Seventy-six percent of respondents noted that they
regarded \"inappropriate material\" as a barrier to Internet adoption, while
61% stated they worried about \"dangerous ideas\" on the Net getting in the
way of Internet use. Forty-two percent of respondents also stated that the
inability to trust the information you find online gets in the way of
Internet adoption.


These concerns could also be seen when respondents were asked whether they
would support restricting types of Internet content. Not surprisingly, 92%
agreed that schools should filter out pornography from student-accessed
Internet computers, while 79% agreed they should filter out hate speech. But
fears of inappropriate content went well beyond the schoolhouse gate: 74%
agreed that the government should ban online pornography outright, while 73%
agreed that the government should ban online hate speech. On the whole, 55%
of respondents stated that the government should exert more control over
content on the Internet.


\"It\'s a worrisome dilemma,\" said Carvin, the Benton Foundation\'s resident
specialist on education technology policy. \"The public wants to embrace the
Internet as an educational tool, but many people fear its potential to harm
young minds -- to the point where they shrug off First Amendment
considerations and support aggressive governmental content restriction.
Since such restriction would be unlikely to pass constitutional muster, in
the end adults will have to recognize their role as the ultimate mediators
of their children\'s online experiences. We must equip young people with the
skills and sensibility to use the Internet responsibly and maturely, and not
rush down the perilous path of having the government become the regulators
of online content. Nor should we assume that technologies like Internet
filters will be able to do all the work of adults when it comes to guiding
young peoples\' experiences online. Adults simply must get more involved.\"


About the Survey


The survey cited in this release was designed and conducted by Assistant
Professor Dhavan V. Shah, PhD, of the School of Journalism and Mass
Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The survey relies on
national survey data collected in February 1999 and June 2000 from the same
set of respondents to address a variety of topics, including support for
programs to increase public access to the Internet, changing patterns of
digital media access and use, the extent of the digital divide in America,
among others. Major support for this study was provided by the Digital Media
Forum, a media policy consortium established by the Ford Foundation. Members
of the Forum include the Benton Foundation, the Media Access Project, the
Center for Media Education, the Consumer Federation of America, the
Consumers Union, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Additional
support was provided by research funding from the School of Journalism and
Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as from the
Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research (Social Science
Research Grants Program and the Department of Communication, University of
California at Santa Barbara. Special thanks also to Associate Professor
Lewis Friedland of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
University of Wisconsin-Madison, for serving as academic liaison to the
Digital Media Forum.

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