BOSTON, MA. February 1, 2021 – A new survey of teachers during the pandemic shows that they need new and greater professional development and support, as well as instructional tools and student-facing resources in order to be successful during remote learning. Surveying more than 1,900 educators nationwide before and after the COVID-19-forced transition to remote schooling, GBH Education found significant differences in teachers' confidence in using digital media resources and critical inequities in access to digital media among students, especially among those in public schools, rural areas, and Title 1 schools. The results underscore a need for greater training support for educators and a stronger commitment to providing access to equipment and internet for students who need it.

"As school districts across the country pivoted overnight to a remote learning environment last March, teachers quickly shifted to the use of digital media resources while students had to attend school online," said Seeta Pai, Executive Director of Education at GBH. "In surveying these teachers, we found significant disparities in how confident teachers felt about using these resources as well as differences among students in access to the technology needed to learn."

The survey, first conducted in March 2020 before the shift to remote learning and followed by a second survey in late June 2020, found:

  • Only 66% of teachers reported being very or extremely confident in using digital media services for teaching after the pandemic-prompted shift to remote learning. This lack of confidence may in part be associated with the finding that nearly one in seven teachers (13%) had not previously used these services, reporting they started using K-12 digital media services only after the COVID-19-related school closures. The most commonly used digital media services included Google Classroom, Khan Academy, BrainPOP, Discovery Education, and PBS/PBS LearningMedia. In general, the more digital services a teacher was using, the higher their confidence level in using K-12 digital media in their teaching.
  • The COVID-19 shift to remote learning exacerbated inequities in digital media access. Following the shift to remote learning, educators reported a majority of students completed work on either a computing device (88%) or a cellular device (7%) and that 90% of students have access to high-speed internet or WiFi. However, they also reported that many students rely on school or district-issued devices (48%) or hot spots (15%) to complete their schoolwork.

Five percent of teachers reported a majority of their students do not have access to a device to complete schoolwork, and 10% of teachers reported that a majority of their students do not have access to high-speed Internet/WiFi at home. Educators teaching in public schools, rural areas, and Title I schools were more likely than their peers to report that a majority of their students lack access to requisite devices and/or Internet access at home and that a majority of students rely on school- or district-administered devices.

"As school districts continue to use remote or hybrid approaches to learning in 2021, these survey results converge with others that show the continued importance of paying attention to access and opportunity gaps to ensure all students can continue to learn," Pai said. "Furthermore, teachers need additional support and training in using digital media services in their virtual classroom to meet the needs of remote and under-connected students."

The survey was commissioned by GBH Education. Funding for the research was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The survey was conducted by VeraQuest Research, LLC. The initial national survey of teachers was fielded in February – March, 2020 with a goal of better understanding teacher awareness and usage of digital media technologies in K-12 classrooms. A second survey with a separate sample was conducted in June 2020 designed to document any changes in the usage of digital media technologies in the transition to remote learning. A total of 1,914 educators teaching at least one K-12 core subject completed the online survey. 90% of respondents teach in public schools, 51% teach in a suburban school, 30% in an urban area and 19% in a rural area. Over half of respondents teach in a Title 1 school. The full executive summary and infographic of findings can be found at

About PBS LearningMedia
PBS LearningMedia, a partnership of PBS and GBH, is an online destination that offers free access to thousands of resources from PBS stations and partners. These digital tools are designed to enhance classroom instruction -- from videos, images and interactives, to lesson plans, articles and primary sources. Available to all educators pre-K through 12th grade, PBS LearningMedia offers classroom-ready content aligned to state and national standards, compatible with the tools teachers use most, such as Google Classroom, and contextualized with supporting materials. Each month, more than 1.6 million unique users visit PBS LearningMedia to enhance teaching practice and support student learning. Learn more at

GBH is the leading multiplatform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. GBH’s local television channels include GBH 2, GBH 44 and GBH Kids. With a newsroom headquartered in Boston, GBH reaches across New England with GBH 89.7, Boston’s Local NPR; CRB Classical 99.5; and CAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station. From Boston to the Berkshires, from Worcester to the Cape and Islands, GBH is dedicated to connecting the Commonwealth through news, programming, learning tools and events. GBH has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at
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