Home Education Technology Success Stories Collecting studies focused on the impact of Education Technologies

Collecting studies focused on the impact of Education Technologies


Gathering empirical evidence supporting the positive results that education technologies can help to deliver.

EmergingEdTech is seeking out online reports and studies that examine the use of education and instructional technologies, and how effectively they have been used to improve learning outcomes.

With the growing availablity of high speed bandwidth, the advent of Web 2.0, and other technology improvements, the education technology landscape in recent years is markedly different, and more ripe with possibilities, than that of years prior. With this in mind, we've decided to draw a line in terms of the the age of the reports, excluding anything from prior to 2005 (admittedly a somewhat arbitrary line, but a line nonetheless).

Following are the first few reports we found that meet this criteria. We hope readers find these reports insightful. Moving forward, we'll keep an eye out for additional reports and note them in comments below, then follow up at some future point with an updated summary of the research findings.

“Educators, Technology and 21st Century Skills: Dispelling Five Myths” from The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University (2010).

This report can currently be found online at: http://www.waldenu.edu/Documents/Degree-Programs/Full_Report_-_Dispelling_Five_Myths.pdf. As the title indicates, the reports examines 5 “myths” about education technology. These myths include “Given that students today are comfortable with technology, teachers’ use of technology is less important to student learning” and “Only high-achieving student benefit from using technology.”

Among the conclusions reached in this study was the following, specific to Myth 3 (the first one noted above): “Teachers’ use of technology matters a great deal. Teachers who use technology frequently to support learning in their classrooms report greater benefits to student learning, engagement and skills from technology than teachers who spend less time using technology to support learning.  Teachers who are frequent technology users also put more emphasis on 21st century skills – and report more pronounced effects on student learning of these skills.”

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning (A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies)” from the U.S. Department of Education (2009).

This report is currently available here: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf. The report is a meta-analysis, combining the results of multiple previous studies. The analysis examined many studies (most from 2004 and beyond), and ultimately incorporated results from 46 of them.

The study's conclusion was that, based on the research that it examined, blended learning (combining face-to-face and online learning) was more effective than conventional face-to-face learning. Additionally, online learning alone was also shown to offer a slight advantage over conventional classroom learning. It is important to note that much of the research examined in the report focused on adult learners.

“Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort”, a report to congress from the Institute of Education Sciences (2007).

This paper can be found online at: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20074005.pdf. This study was actually conducted in 2004 and 2005 and looked at 16 selected software products (out of 160 submissions). For Reading, Grades 1 and 4 were sampled, and for the Mathematics, Grade 6 and Algebra. The fundamental finding of this study was that “Test Scores Were Not Significantly Higher in Classrooms Using Selected Reading and Mathematics Software Products.”

“Discussion Paper: Impact of Technology on Education” by Debbie Look for PUSD Excellence Committee (2005).

This paper can be found online at http://www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us/Superintendent/Downloads/Technology.pdf. The paper looks at a good number of previous studies (a few of which meet my criteria, and I will have to look into further). The paper concludes that, “Despite some limitations in the scope of the research-based evidence, there does seem to be a sufficient body of data, both quantitative and qualitative, to determine a positive relationship between increased use of educational technologies and student achievement.”

“Quantity versus Quality: A New Approach to Examine the Relationship between Technology Use and Student Outcomes” from the British Journal of Educational Technology, Volume 41 Issue 3 (May 2009).

I found an abstract of this report here, and will have to follow up and try to secure a full copy of the report. In this report, “the author argues that to examine the relationship between technology use and student outcomes, the quality of technology use—how, and what, technology is used—is a more significant factor than the quantity of technology use.” The abstract goes on to state that, “when the quality of technology was examined by investigating the specific types of technology uses, a significant association was identified between technology use and all student outcomes.”

It was certainly encouraging to see that 4 of these 5 studies indicated a positive correlation between education technology and improved student achievement and learning outcomes.
Finding reports that met this simple criteria (published after 2004 and measuring the impact of education technology on learning) proved harder than anticipated. There were plenty of reports that were either close to the topic, but not on target, or were older than desired. If any of you know of any studies you think we should consider adding to the list, please comment below and let us know about them (thanks!).

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
8 Engaging Videos Advocating Better Integration of Technology in Education
5 Reasons Why Educators Need To Embrace Internet Technologies
Education Technology – Don’t Lean On It, Leverage It!


  1. Came across this one today: http://education.tmcnet.com/topics/education/articles/191072-study-shows-technology-boosts-performance-educators-students.htm

    “CompTIA (News – Alert), a non-profit association in the IT industry, recently conducted a study focusing on technology and its impact on educators and students. The survey conducted shows that 78 percent of 500 educators believe that technology is one of the many positive influences in education today. According to the release, 65 percent of educators said students are more productive today than they were three years ago due to the use of technology.”

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    “Statistics 1″ is an e-textbook app that includes 11 lessons, quizzes and flashcards for each lesson, calculators, glossaries, and other tools a student learning Intro Stats needs. Here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o8WPXxsXEE&feature=player_profilepage

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  3. Well made points, as usual, Dallas! I agree wholeheartedly about treading carefully with studies that are commissioned by provisioners of education technology products and services. I wish to try and focus on qualified, properly conducted research here, and believe that most of the studies I have mentioned above utilized robust, established research methodologies. Of course, I am not by any means a research expert myself, so hopefully my lay opinion is not too far off base.

  4. Thanks, Ethan, for mentioning Marc Prensky – I just popped over to his site and read his “Backup Education” article. He is undoubtedly a visionary thinker and writes passionately about technology. For the context of what I am discussing in this article however, I am focused on formal studies, and I don’t see that his work falls into that category.

  5. What would be most convincing to me would be research results that changed the minds of the researchers themselves. So many of these studies are sponsored by groups already wishing to prove the efficacy of edtech. How about some bona fide research?

    Reminds me of a study done in the ’70s “proving” chocolate “MAY” be heathy for teeth. The study was done by Johns Hopkins Medical as I recall but the sponsor?… Mars Candy Company. Hmm…

    “The brain is constantly warping sensations to reflect expectations” (NPR interview of Scientist, May 8, 2010).

    The fact is, technology may NOT have been integrated to optimize benefits as yet. But it MAY make a HUGE difference given the concentrated efforts being exerted by stakeholders today. The real need is to lay aside special interests (fame and fortune) and be humble and honest in our research to determine which practices genuinely IMPROVE learning.

    Some of the brightest minds in history did not have the technology we enjoy today. Einstein didn’t need a computer to discover Relativity theory. He did need an open and critical mind, however.

  6. Marc’s seminal article ‘Digital Natives; Digital Immigrants’ written in 2001, may be worth making an exception for as it helps frame the conversation on educational technology without delving into specific technologies. The article draws the distinction between living technologies and educational technologies.

    If this article dosn’t make the cut perhaps another of Marc’s will.


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