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It looks like an apple for the teacher just doesn’t cut it anymore, unless it can access the ‘net.

According to a poll from the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission, teachers and parents say schools should be doing more to improve access to technology in education, with access to the Internet high on the list.

The vast majority of parents and teachers said they would rather spend money on Internet-connected digital devices than the same amount on text books.

The study was released Monday in advance of a Tuesday symposium at Stanford Tuesday that will discuss the study findings and include FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and others talking about current barriers to and opportunities of high-tech classrooms.

Broadband deployment, education and adoption is viewed by the FCC as one of the key opportunities — and the lack of it a key barrier — to a first class education in a digital world.

More than half of teachers (61%) and about the same percentage of parents (63%) polled said they thought that the country was “behind the curve” when it came to public school use of technology.

Other findings include:

  • 82 percent of teachers and 71 percent of parents believe a greater use of technology would be helpful in connecting learning inside and outside of the classroom
  • 89 percent of teachers and 76 percent of parents would choose to spend $200 per student for an Internet-connected device over $200 per student for new science textbooks
  • 82 percent of teachers believe that they are not receiving the necessary training to use technology to its fullest potential in the classroom
  • 95 percent of teachers and 90 percent of parents believe that home access to high-speed Internet gives students a big or moderate advantage when it comes to classroom performance.

The poll was a phone survey of 883 parents of K-12 students conducted Aug. 7-13 (margin of error 3.3 percentage points) and of 812 public school K-12 teachers via online survey Aug. 9-15 margin of error 3.4). It was conducted by Hart Research for the LEAD Commission, according to a spokesperson for the commission, which was charged by the FCC and DOE with coming up with a game plan for improving use of technology in the schools.

The commission combines input from teachers, parents, school officials, tech leaders and others and is co-chaired by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger; James Coulter of TPG Capital; Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer.
Steyer said Monday that he expects to have that blueprint ready for release by November. “We are thinking very big and very boldly,” in this blueprint, he said, not just “moving chess pieces around.” He said at the end of the day, the results of the study show parents and teachers understand it is critical to get high-tech in the classroom, so the answer becomes does the country have the will to do it.

The FCC and Obama administration have been promoting broadband as an educational imperative, including through subsidies and incentives to build out broadband to schools and libraries and pushing for digital textbooks to replace the tree-heavy backpacks currently weighing kids down.

Cable operators have been doing their part through low-cost broadband offerings to low-income parents of school-aged kids, based on the Comcast Internet Essential program.

Genachowski is a founding board member of Common Sense Media, which promotes technological tools to help parents manage their kids’ media consumption.