2010 Member Survey

Illustration by Huan Tran / survey analysis by COMPAS Inc

Are you among Ontario’s Internet-savvy teachers who use whatever computer or mobile electronic device you can get your hands on to seek out lesson plans or professional development? If so, you’re in good company. The College probed members’ social media habits and more during its annual survey.

Ontario teachers scour the Internet for lesson plans and PD, remain unaware of professional misconduct matters, and favour having – and promoting – a professional designation.

So say results from Professionally Speaking’s annual survey of members, conducted for the first time online.

The College sent 25,000 electronic invitations (22,000 in English and 3,000 in French) to randomly selected members in July. A total of 6,151 took part. The sample results are accurate to within 1.2 percentage points 19 times out of 20, says COMPAS Inc, an independent research and polling company commissioned to analyze the results.

Those newest to the profession (four years or less) account for 31.6 per cent of the responses. Those with 30 or more years in the profession represent 14.8 per cent.

At home, at work and on the run, Ontario teachers are spending hours each week online. Those who report having access to a computer at home spend 8.3 hours a week on average searching the Internet. Almost 40 (38.9) per cent of those who answered say they use their own computer at home several times a day. Another 17.3 per cent are loyal daily visitors. Even members who share a home computer log 5.5 hours a week on average. Those with access to a classroom computer use the device 5.1 hours per week.

The use of netbooks, friends’ computers, Internet cafés, tablet PCs and e-readers is much more infrequent (1.6, 1.4, 1.4, 1.2 and 1.1 hours per week respectively).

Privacy matters

Clearly, privacy matters. Those who work in a public location at school average just 2.6 hours a week online. Online time doubles when members use computers privately.

Netsurfing devotees look mostly for professional help. Members report spending 4.8 hours a week conducting research to support their work. They also say they invest 3.7 hours accessing classroom resources, 3.5 hours finding lesson plans, 3.4 hours staying current on education trends, 2.8 hours networking with other professionals, 2.1 hours managing a class or school web site and 1.3 hours blogging about the teaching profession.

Teachers say they log 4.1 hours per week surfing the Net to learn something new for personal interest. In addition, they’re getting their news electronically. Members scan the Web for 3.3 to 3.5 hours a week to read newspaper web sites and other sources of news and current affairs. Forty-eight per cent say they spend up to an hour a week reading newspaper web sites online. Fifty-two per cent use the Internet to access other sources of news or current affairs. Almost two-thirds (63.5 per cent) read a newspaper online for any amount of time and 38.3 per cent read a newspaper for an hour or less. Almost 72 (71.7) per cent use the Internet to access other sources of news or current affairs.

Professional interest trumps recreational pursuits. Respondents say they use Facebook an average of 3.6 hours a week compared to 2.5 hours on YouTube, 1.2 hours on Twitter and 1.1 hours on MySpace.

Almost half (46 per cent) say they have two e-mail addresses. Close to 17 (16.8) per cent have three and 6.2 per cent have four or more.

The findings show that for surfing the Internet:

A growing draw

Social media is a growing draw among the province’s teachers. Among the various types of social media, respondents prefer Facebook over MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Asked how much time they spend using social media sites:

Should the College make use of social media sites? Yes, members say, favouring Facebook over YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter by a landslide. By an almost four-to-one margin, Facebook is the preferred portal for College membership fee reminders (57.5 per cent). A majority of members also prefer Facebook for news about changes in licensing (53 per cent), new AQ courses (52.7 per cent) and changes to College standards (51.2 per cent). A near majority prefer Facebook for news about Council elections (47.6 per cent) and lesson plan resources (46.9 per cent).

Anecdotally, however, many members say they are prohibited from accessing social media from the classroom by local board policies. A minority opposes the College’s use of social media.

“It takes away from the professionalism of the field,” says one member. “Too many people could easily access that kind of info, and we already have a tough time defending our professionalism.”

But others would welcome the use of social media. “In the spirit of social/professional networking, it would be great if the Members’ Area had a bulletin board/messaging area so teachers could have conversations about various topics.”

Should the College use the following social networking sites?

Should the College use Facebook for information in the following areas?

Rate your satisfaction and familiarity with the Ontario College of Teachers web site.

Keeping up

Among the uses for technology, members say they’re keeping up to date on what’s happening in education. Almost

45 (44.6) per cent say they commit up to an hour a week to this. Respondents also report spending up to two hours a week reviewing subject matter that’s of personal interest (52.9 per cent); conducting research to support their work as teachers (39.2 per cent); accessing lesson plans (44.2 per cent); accessing classroom resources (42.3 per cent); and networking with other professionals (41.9 per cent).

“As a principal, I use the Net to look up the qualifications of teaching candidates when interviewing and to look at general information,” one member reports.

Sixteen per cent of those polled say they sometimes or often (assigning a score of 4 or 5 out of 5) use YouTube videos in their classrooms. Only 2.4 per cent post lessons on YouTube or other online sites.

Members say that they are only moderately familiar with the College’s web site, but those who use it are satisfied. On a scale of one to five, with five being the most satisfied, the satisfaction among members who are familiar with the site ranges from 4.1 to 4.5 on everything from using the Find a Teacher function and printing certificates to changing an address and downloading forms.

Regarding their interaction with the College’s web site, 28.5 per cent say they aren’t familiar with the site, whereas 22.3 per cent say they are. Says one member, “I have not visited the web site until today. I am very excited about having access to it and will certainly use it to keep myself informed and up to date. It’s informative, organized.” More than a third (37.2 per cent) say they access the site a few times a year. Another 12.5 per cent report visiting it a few times each month.

“I often consult my profile on the web site to check my courses and qualifications,” says a French-speaking member. “And I must say that I also check my colleagues’ and friends’ profiles.”

Members report their additional uses of the College’s web site as follows:

Familiar and happy

Of those who answered the survey, 41.1 per cent say they have an account in the Members’ Area. More than four out of 10 rate the site’s visual aesthetics (43.7 per cent), navigation and layout (43.7 per cent), ease of use (47.1 per cent) and information (49.7 per cent) as good to excellent.

“As a retired individual allowed minimal work time, it is useful for renewing registration and keeping up to date,” one member says. “I am satisfied with a low-cost, one-access place to connect.”

Another says, “I find the web site very user-friendly. I’m able to access any information needed quickly and easily. I really enjoy receiving up-to-date information through e-mail and current issues [of the magazine].”

Members also offer opinions about possible improvements. “I would love to see an interactive area for members to post success stories and recommended educational reads,” one person says. “This would provide teachers with inspirational support as we navigate through the wonderful and challenging world of teaching and education.”

“I maintain my Ontario College of Teachers standing even though I am now working in California, just in case I decide to move back. However, I love the periodical Professionally Speaking and have used it to assist in my master’s in educational technology and, of course, to better the classroom environment for my students!”

Almost 60 per cent (58.9 per cent) say they are aware of the College’s responsibilities to communicate with the public on behalf of Ontario’s teaching profession.

Designation supported

In 2008 College members were asked to what extent they would support a professional designation for teachers if the process to become certified didn’t change and the cost to the College was minimal. On a five-point scale, where five represented “strongly support” and one meant the opposite, members registered a mean score of 3.8.

Support for the professional designation continues to hold. Asked in 2010 how important it is for teachers to be able to use the designation to distinguish themselves (and their qualifications) from other professionals, members register the identical 3.8 out of 5.

Almost half (48.7 per cent) say they are aware or very aware that the College has adopted a professional designation for teachers – Ontario Certified Teacher or OCT (EAO in French). However, they perceive that awareness is mediocre within the sector and poor among the public.

A third (32.6 per cent) feel that their colleagues are aware or very aware of the designation, whereas 43.7 per cent believe that their friends and family are not at all aware of the designation.

Although members know about the designation, they’re not putting it to full use. Almost half (48.6 per cent) report that they have yet to use their designation on report cards or next to their e-mail signatures. Just over 10 (11.1) per cent say they have.

The majority of respondents say they haven’t been asked about the designation or what OCT means. One in five (22.2 per cent) feel that the feedback about the designation within the profession has been positive, and 32.6 per cent feel that the feedback about it from non-teachers has been positive.

However, 47.7 per cent of those polled say it is important or very important for Ontario Certified Teachers to distinguish themselves (and their qualifications) from other professionals working in schools, such as early childhood educators (ECEs) or speech and language pathologists.

How aware of the OCT professional designation are:

Promotion needed

Is a College campaign to promote the professionalism of OCTs in order? Half (51.8 per cent) think so. Just 11.6 per cent say it is not important or not at all important.

On the subject of member discipline, members identify the Governing Ourselves section (the blue pages) in Professionally Speaking as the go-to source for information. In these pages, the magazine alerts members to the types of behaviours that lead to findings of professional misconduct.

Veteran teachers with four or more years of experience rely on the magazine to learn about misconduct. New teachers learn online.

Almost half (49.1 per cent) say they are not familiar with the process of making a complaint about a teacher, and 49.3 per cent are not familiar with the rights or resources of a person against whom a complaint is made. Over half (53.7 per cent) say they are not familiar with the process used to inform the accused.

Similarly, the majority of respondents are not familiar with how the College investigates complaints, the hearing process, the alternative process for dispute resolution or how members can ask to be reinstated if their certificate has been revoked.

Where do teachers learn about instances of teacher misconduct? Professionally Speaking, say 46.9 per cent. Newspapers and television represent the next most likely sources, followed by radio, family and friends, and colleagues. More than half (51.5 per cent) of the members who answered the College survey say they never or almost never hear about teacher misconduct from their federation, association or council.

How important is it for the College to undertake a public relations campaign to promote the professionalism of Ontario Certified Teachers?

Discipline decision summaries

Responding specifically to a question about the discipline decision summaries that appear in the Governing Ourselves pages of Professionally Speaking, 43.2 per cent say the summaries are clearly written and easy to understand. Another 35.9 per cent say they provide enough information to understand the facts of a case, and 39.1 per cent feel they provide guidance to teachers about how the profession upholds its standards.

Do decision summaries alert teachers to the types of behaviours or actions that could lead to a finding of misconduct? Almost half (48.6 per cent) say yes.

Nearly one in five (19.9 per cent) feel that making information in discipline decisions public detracts from the public image of the profession. Slightly more (22.9 per cent) disagree and feel exactly the opposite.

Thinking specifically of the discipline decision summaries in Governing Ourselves (the blue pages), to what extent do you agree that they:

How familiar are you with the College’s investigations and discipline process with regard to: