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Building Connections and Community with Technology

Technology will never replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers, it’s transformational.”

George Couros, Educator and Author

Using Tools to Foster Connection

When used to build relationships and keep students engaged, technology can have a big impact.

From 2010 to 2020, the percentage of teachers regularly using an online curriculum with their students more than doubled, increasing from 28% to 60%. The percentage of classrooms in which each student is assigned a personal device (1:1 technology) also doubled during this time (20-21 Speak Up Research Project).

The use of digital tools to support learning, which had been steadily growing over the past decade, increased again suddenly in March 2020 as schools shifted to remote learning in response to classroom closures. Now, students are largely back to learning in person, but our understanding of the effective use of technology to foster relationships and keep students engaged in education has changed for good.

Teachers are using technology to get to know their students and help them learn.

As a result of how they are using digital tools and resources in their classrooms, educators who use technology as part of their teaching practice report that they are more aware of their students’ individual needs (61%) and more likely to be leveraging technology purposely to tailor learning for their students (61%). They are also more than twice as likely to report that they spend more one-on-one time with their students (20-21 Speak Up Research Project).

Technology is helping educators strengthen their teaching practice.

Teachers using digital learning tools are more likely than teachers on average nationwide to see a stronger connection between the effective use of technology and positive changes in their instructional practice. When teachers use digital tools, they are actually more likely to say they are very comfortable differentiating instruction and getting to know their students — emphasizing the positive impact technology can have on a classroom.

While technology is no substitute for in-person interactions with a live, professional educator in the classroom, a growing number of educators are now using technology and practices honed during the pandemic to strengthen relationships with learners. Therein lies opportunity.

From Crisis to Creativity: Can technology play a role in strengthening teacher-student relationships?

What teachers are saying

According to the Gradient Learning Poll, which surveyed 1,418 educators across the country.

Is the effective use of technology within learning important for students’ future success?

  • YES70%
  • NO30%

Does the use of digital tools and resources help you provide opportunities for your students to develop self-directed learning skills?

  • YES70%
  • NO30%

Does digital learning create interactive and participatory learning experiences?

  • YES69%
  • NO31%

Does digital learning expand access to online content that is current and relevant?

  • YES60%
  • NO40%

“I’ve learned so much about my students. I thought I knew my students really well, and I learned about them and their hobbies and their families and their values. That’s built an even stronger connection through videos and technology.”

Dr. Stacey Perez, Principal, Classical Academies High School, California

Nationwide results

We surveyed 1,418 teachers across the country to better understand their views on the state of education. By measuring teacher sentiment, we’re informing communities across the country about how they can best support educators.

Type of teachers

  • Classroom, 85%
  • Special Education, 11%
  • Other, 4%


  • Teach in rural communities, 30%
  • Teach in urban communities, 28%
  • Teach in suburban communities, 42%