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Internet-Dependent Teachers Running Into Streaming Troubles: Study

According to a new survey, teachers are relying more on "Internet-dependent" instruction, but are running up against a lack of computers and infrastructure issues like bandwidth and speed.

According to the eighth such study conducted by PBS in conjunction with Grunwald Associates, more than half of the K-12 teachers (60%) frequently use digital media in classroom instruction.

Among the key takeaways, according to the survey, was that the Internet is quickly becoming the source for media-based instruction, with streaming and downloading of content surging.

More than three-quarters of the teachers (75%) said they sometimes had problems streaming video, with a quarter saying they did often or all the time, vs. only 4% who said they rarely if ever did.

"Problems with streaming video include skipping, pausing or constant buffering, indicating that computing devices or technology infrastructure, or both, do not yet have the capacity to handle teachers' increasingly Internet-dependent instructional activity.

Demand is increasing in part because teachers are finding new and different ways to access media, and see great potential in laptops, tablets, e-readers and other portable devices.

The perceived benefits of TV were up in all categories, including: that video content stimulates discussion (68%), that it increases student motivation (66%), that it leads to more effective teaching (62%), that students prefer it (61%) and that teachers feel they can be more creative (55%).

The survey was conducted with 1,401 full-time teachers K-12 and 197 pre-K teachers.

The Federal Communications Commission and Commerce Department have both made boosting access, training and bandwidth capacity to schools and libraries a priority in the former's National Broadband Plan and the latter's administration of billions of dollars in broadband stimulus funding.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.