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Study: Teachers coming to terms with computers

High tech is making its presence felt in schools, but it's weighted toward taking attendance.

Teachers are increasingly incorporating computers into their workdays, but more for administrative record-keeping than as teaching tools, according to a study released Monday.

The majority of U.S. teachers are comfortable using computers for daily tasks like e-mail, attendance and posting information about classes on school intranets, according to CDW Government, which provides advice on technology to schools and government agencies.

Seventy percent of middle- and high-school teachers use e-mail to communicate with parents, while just over half use intranets to take classroom attendance. About 54 percent integrate computers into their daily curriculum, the survey found.

That pattern may arise from the nature of the training available to teachers, which has tended to focus on administrative rather than instructional applications, the study notes. A good portion of teachers--more than 85 percent--say they are trained on the Internet, word processing and e-mail software, but 27 percent say they have had little or no introduction to integrating computers into lessons. Thirty-one percent said they had no technology training in 2004 or 2005.

Still, overall use of technology in schools this year has grown among elementary and secondary teachers compared with last year, CDW Government said. The survey, conducted by Scholastic subsidiary Quality Education Data, sampled 1,000 public school teachers in March and April.

Of those surveyed, more than 61 percent of teachers said there were not enough computers in their classrooms.

Additionally, elementary-school teachers are more likely to use computers in instruction than their middle- or high-school counterparts, by a margin of 12 percent, the survey said. Elementary teachers are nearly 20 percent more likely to have access to computers in the classroom, as opposed to having the equipment in a computer lab or media center.

"Closing the gap between administrative use and instructional use appears to be more a question of where computers are located, as opposed to just the number of computers available," Chris Rother, vice president for education at CDW-G, said in a statement.