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Schools aren’t always appreciated as the linchpin for new media adoption. But Apple successfully focused on the education market to gain a foothold. So did AOL. In our view, an understanding of new media adoption by schools is critical to getting the big picture. That’s why we watch the annual PBS survey of schools and technology very closely.

This year’s survey, conducted by Grunwald Associates, found that K-12 schools are  rapidly integrating digital media into the classroom — including instruction, lesson planning, communications and teacher professional development.

It also found that online access of video and the Web is on the rise, and is second only to DVDs in terms of penetration. Social media also is gaining, with communities of interest and expertise widely said to be enriching the education experience beyond geographical boundaries.

The survey, conducted since 2002, found that 65 percent of K-12 teachers regularly use digital media in the classroom. Ten percent use it every day, 20 percent use it three or four times a week, 15 percent use it two times a week, and 20 percent use it once a week.

In terms of Internet access, 81 percent said their classrooms have computers with Internet access, up from 77 percent in 2008. Seventy-three percent of teachers report streaming or downloading content from the Internet.

“A lot of marketers haven’t understood the role of education as a gateway to the home media market,” notes survey leader Peter Grunwald, president of Grunwald Associates. “We tell clients that education is not just an important industry itself, but it is also a key driver of consumer media decisions. ‘Learning’ is an increasingly important marketing message for families.”

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