Teachers want more classroom internet access

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Teachers want more classroom internet access

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Nearly half of the UK's teachers would like to increase the use of the internet in lessons, according to a survey sponsored by cable company NTL Telewest. 

The survey of 500 UK teachers found that, although 42 per cent use the internet in class once a day, and 78 per cent once a week, they believe that greater use would have a beneficial effect on students.

More than one in three teachers indicated that internet access has had a dramatic impact on exam results.

The opinions are borne out by the students, 90 per cent of whom believe that internet access made lessons 'more interesting'.

The majority of teachers also felt that internet access has a positive benefit for learners at both ends of the ability scale.

"The internet has transformed the way pupils are learning in the classroom and the benefits are there for all to see in terms of exam results and interest in lessons," said Christopher Small, public sector director at NTL Telewest.

The main use of the internet in the classroom is for access to online learning resources (46 per cent) and research (42 per cent).

But only one per cent of teachers use the internet to collaborate with other schools and businesses, which Small described as "missing a trick".

Collaborative learning focusing on small group activities is championed by forward-thinking educationalists as the future of education set to replace the "learning-factory" methods of traditional chalk-and-talk pedagogy, according to Small.

Teachers increasingly set homework that relies on the internet, and more than half encourage online learning, revision or research at home.

However, the debate over the digital divide is still alive and well: nearly 88 percent of teachers feel that pupils without internet access at home are at a disadvantage compared to those who have access.

The main barriers to internet take-up in schools were an insufficient number of PCs (58 per cent), a lack of suitable online resources (30 per cent) and a lack of time and specialist equipment such as interactive whiteboards (26 per cent).

More than a third of teachers surveyed also felt that there was a lack of access to the right ICT skills and training to support e-learning.

Guidelines issued by the Department for Education and Skills suggest that primary schools should have 2Mbps bandwidth, and secondary schools 8Mbps, by the end of the year.

According to the survey, almost six out of 10 teachers believe that their school has reached those targets, but 10 per cent felt that their school would not reach these targets.
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