Technology: Ed Tech Research
Overview of Educational Technology Research
come a long way since books and chalkboards were the key tools of the
classroom. What's the lay of the land in educational technology?
There's a lot to see in that lay of
the land - many, many products and services. But what is NOT known is whether
there is a definitive return on investment for all the new and expensive
educational technology purchases that school districts and, indeed, states, are
From computers to handhelds,
smartboards to online courses, state-run virtual schools and statewide testing
all done via computer, educational technology has definitely changed K-12
schooling. Observers say a lot of it is for the better, especially since
"digital natives," the term for students who have grown up with technology of
all kinds all around them, are past the time when books and chalkboards will
engage their interest and meet their learning needs.
Once teachers and administrators venture past the math games
and foreign language drills into setting up their students with email penpals
from other continents and observing space alongside astronauts via Webcams, ed
tech is a blessing and a great tool.
However, they also point out that there is little, or no, hard
evidence that the dollars devoted to ed tech are really paying off with
advanced academic achievement and better learning outcomes for students than
the "good old days."
For example, one study showed that there was very little
evidence to show that significant Internet subsidies in
California from 1996 to 2000 had any kind of measurable positive effect
(Goolsbee & Guryan, 2002).
researchers say that technology's net effects on student achievement are
difficult to measure because what is considered most important in education -- higher-order
thinking skills, creativity, motivation for learning, and research skills — are
very hard to assess and put into statistical format.
amount of money being spent on ed tech is staggering in most public school
districts at a time of high unemployment, rising prices, and a real estate
situation in which a significant percentage of people are losing their homes to
foreclosure because they can't pay their high real estate taxes, most of which
goes to fund public schools.
So while it may
make sense that spending more on ed tech will make kids smarter and more fit
for higher education and the workworld, researchers can't exactly prove that.
But as with everything in technology, you have to say . . . that may be
"upgraded" very soon!
Homework: Get an idea of the wide range of issues
in the area of ed tech and learning results from this article (sponsored by ed
tech companies, so be advised) from eSchool