Computer software and the Internet are increasingly part of the curriculum in the nation's elementary and secondary schools. But a new survey by Education Week shows that teachers are still struggling to make the best use of electronic tools.

The survey finds that 61 percent of teachers are using the Web in their classes and 53 percent are using software. But about half of those who responded to the survey say they find it "somewhat" or "very" difficult to find educational Web sites to meet their needs. About 6 out of 10 teachers say the same thing about educational software.

In addition, nearly half of teachers who have classroom computers say their machines often aren't powerful enough to run the software they'd like to use.

According to the survey, it is a misconception that younger teachers are more likely to use technology than veterans. Teachers who have more than 20 years' experience are just as likely to use digital content for instruction as those who have been teaching for five years or less.

Expense is cited as the biggest obstacle to making more use of computers in class. About half of the respondents--48 percent--said cost was a "big problem" and another 34 percent called it a "moderate problem."

Other concerns, in descending order of importance to the teachers, are lack of class time, lack of teacher preparation time, difficulty of matching electronic tools with curriculum requirements, overall quality of the software and ease of use.

The complete survey appears in today's issue of Education Week--its annual report on education technology--and will be posted today on the publication's Web site (www.edweek.org).

Teachers and Technology

The survey showed what teachers consider to be the biggest obstacles to making more use of computers in class.

XModerate problem

YBig problem

Expense

X34%

Y48%

Amount of class time necessary

X33%

Y21%

Amount of preparation time necessary

X33%

Y16%

Match with state/district curriculum

X34%

Y12%

Overall software quality

X31%

Y5%

Ease of software use

X26%

Y7%

NOTE: 1999 National Survey of Teachers' Use of Digital Content was conducted by Education Market Research of Rockaway Park, N.Y. The survey had 1,407 responses. Margin of error is 2.6 percentage points.

SOURCE: Education Week