A different approach to the question of whether or not technology makes a difference in student learning and outcomes.
We want to know what YOU think – if you are a teacher, or work closely with teachers in a supporting role, please take a few moments to answer these 6 brief questions about which technologies, or technologically-related actions or concepts (like Professional Development or ‘Flipping the Classroom') you think can have the biggest impact on student learning. Then, please take a moment to provide some of your thoughts about why you think those specific technologies can matter the most.
The discussion and analysis of whether education technology expenditures are improving learning outcomes seems to be on the rise, and it is a valid and important question. No one wants to see increased spending without discernable positive outcomes.
Unfortunately, it often seems that “outcomes” are looked at from an overly generalized perspective – if tests scores aren't improving, then technology must not be making a difference. While this makes some sense from a macro perspective, the reality of most large scale projects is that they are intended to meet specific goals, which in turn support the larger goal of a business or institution. The benefits of the project(s) are defined up front. When we look at test scores and grades as an indicator of successful expenditures, we're ignoring the more immediate intended benefits of the implementations of each specific technology.
Some technologies are intended to engage – in those cases, we should be discussing how to measure ‘engagement' and looking for results along those lines. Some technology exposure provides skills that translate to the work place and career goals – if that was an intended benefit of a given instructional technology rollout then we should be asking if that happened. For each technology project that is budgeted for and approved, we should be defining up front what the desired benefits are, and planning how to ultimately assess the effectiveness of the project at delivering those benefits. How will the technology help the students succeed?
Of course, this all starts from an assumption that a given technology will have certain benefits. Unfortunately, it seems that the perspective of one of the most critical stakeholders in education, the teacher, is often missing (or at a minimum, under-represented) in project and budget planning dialogue. Who better to provide insights into which technologies might make the biggest difference in student learning and outcomes? Gathering (and reporting on) that perspective is the main goal of the survey we are asking you to complete.
Thanks in advance for your time and your valuable insights! Please share this post with your colleagues, and encourage them to offer their input. In a couple weeks we will publish detailed analysis of the results of the survey.
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Education Technology Is An Enabler, Not A Magic Wand
8 Great TED Talks About The Future Of Education And Teaching
Let’s stop misspending education technology dollars