WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than half of the nation’s preschool teachers say they have tablet computers in the classroom – nearly double what was reported just two years earlier.

“That’s an enormous jump,” said Ellen Wartella, a professor at Northwestern University and author of a study that surveyed 945 preschool teachers in 2015. “We were shocked by that.”

About 55 percent of preschool teachers reported they have a tablet computer, such as an iPad, in the classroom, Wartella said during a presentation last week in Washington, D.C. Two years earlier just 29 percent of these teachers reported using these devices. Wartella shared some of the findings from the soon-to-be-released 2015 version of the survey during a Northwestern University a panel discussion Tuesday.

It wasn’t all that long ago that experts were debating the suitability of technology for young children, Wartella said. The survey reveals rapidly growing acceptance of these tools in classrooms for the littlest learners.

The tablets are still mainly for adult use, the survey found. Teachers use them to contact parents and for administrative work. But students are increasingly getting access to the technology, too, Wartella said. Another important finding from the survey: Teachers of preschool students from poorer families are just about as likely to have access to technology in the classroom as children from more affluent backgrounds.

[Cross-posted at The Hechinger Report]

Nichole Dobo

Nichole Dobo writes about blended learning. Most of her 10-year career as a reporter has focused on education. She has also covered stories about government, courts, business and religion. She was a staff writer at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., The York Daily Record/Sunday News in York, Pa., The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa. and The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and has been published in The Atlantic's online edition. She won first prize and best of show for education writing in 2011 from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. She earned a B.A. in journalism at the Pennsylvania State University.