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Instructional Technologies CAN Improve Learning Outcomes and Help Address the Challenges Education Faces

by Kelly Walsh on August 25, 2013

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We are facing a crisis in education as we fail to produce the credentialed, skilled workers we’ll need in the coming decade. Instructional uses of technology can help to address this challenge. The evidence is in.

In the breakout session I presented at UB Tech 2013 over the summer, I discussed the growing shortfall we face in the U.S. and in many areas of the world, in terms of inadequate numbers of citizens completing education degrees at a rate that will support the needs of the workforce in coming years. In the first part of my presentation, I offer statistics that illuminate the problem, and introduce some of the underlying issues that are contributing to these dismal figures. I then deliver the good news – there is a growing body of evidence indicating that carefully applied uses of technology in the instructional setting can go a long way towards turning around these disconcerting trends.

In this video I introduce a variety of Education Technology Success Stories, which I’ve covered more in depth here on EmergingEdTech.com over the last year or two. I start at the highest level, looking at schools that have done an outstanding job of leveraging technology in successful pursuit of improved outcomes. Then we drill down to smaller scale cases, where specific technologies and tech-enabled techniques have been shown to make a difference when adopted in more limited applications.

It is important to make the point that achieving mass adoption of successful integrations of instructional technologies can start from a groundswell – like teachers taking their own initiative and trying flipped instructional techniques in their classrooms. We don’t have to wait for district leaders and senior administrators to tell us we need to do it.

Here’s some of the examples introduced in the presentation:

Western Governor’s University: WGU is a model for many of the ways that technology can facilitate instruction, and enable the non-traditional student to earn a higher education credential. A recent 13-month retention rate (the percentage of students who return after their first year) of 79% is higher than the average for U.S. public colleges and universities, and is particularly impressive for an online institution. Learn more about WGU in this article.

Carpe Diem Collegiate High School: This public school has been highly successful at increasing student achievement with their innovative, technology-enabled blended-learning approach. With 92% of students performing at or above proficient on state tests (versus 65% for Arizona overall), they’ve proved their approach works. Check out the Carpe Diem story here.

Mooresville Graded School District: With 88 percent of students meeting proficiency standards on state tests in reading, math and science in 2011 (compared with 73 percent three years ago) and a district graduation rate of 91 percent in 2011 (versus 80 percent in 2008), Mooresville has clearly succeeded with their “Digital Conversion”. Read the full story here.

Project Red: I learned about Project Red when I wrote this story about 7 Key Findings for Successful Education Technology Integrations. There is a small but growing set of education technology success stories shared on this page on their site.

Atomic Learning: A study by Atomic Learning provided evidence that well designed professional development focused on how to integrate technology in the classroom can impact learning outcomes for the students these teachers work with.

Drilling down into even more focused studies about the use of specific technologies in the classroom, here’s a few more examples:

Yes, some of these studies are vendor sponsored (and these should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, although close inspection can show that they work hard to eliminate bias from the process), but most of the evidence we discuss in the examples above is not connected to any vendor.

I have no doubt that this body of evidence will keep growing, and we should all be striving to make other educators aware of it. We can’t just keep sitting around hoping someone is going to take action for us. Share the good news, the possibilities, and make an opportunity to try a well planned instructional technology implementation yourself (if you haven’t already). If you have, please tell us a little about it (I welcome guest posts – go to the Contact Page to let me know if you’ve got a story you’d like to share with readers).

What do you think about these case studies? Do you know of other cases like these? Please comment and tell us about them. And subscribe and stay in touch as we share more stories like these in the future!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Salman Khan’s Inspiring One World Schoolhouse
Gathering Evidence that Flipping the Classroom can Enhance Learning Outcomes
Teaching and Learning with the iPad – a 3 Year Review

 

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

EmB September 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Great article, I appreciate that you included not only different types of schools, but different age ranges. The links you provided are very interesting, and it isn’t surprising to see how much a little technology in the classroom can contribute to increases in understanding and student satisfaction. It’s too bad results from vendor studies have to be used.

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