Home Adaptive Learning 3 Research Findings to Inform K-12 Technology Investments

3 Research Findings to Inform K-12 Technology Investments



Using Evidence-Based Strategies to Drive the Deployment of Next Generation Learning Techniques

Today’s students are studying and learning differently – a change confirmed by the widespread adoption of digital studying. Our recent study found that 81% of college students use mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) to study, the second most popular device category behind laptops and up 40 percent in usage since 2013.

Further, research validates the use of mobile technology in education. In fact, our same study found that 77% of college students feel the use of adaptive technology helped them improve their grades. As education technology proliferates, research supports the notion that overall student achievement will improve as students gain the ability to learn at their own pace with a variety of teaching styles and formats available to them.

Our research on college students presents many technology implications for districts as they prepare students to succeed in their collegiate careers – where technology is confirmed to play an integral role. As the growth of mobile technology in studying is anticipated to continue, schools, districts, and institutions need to strategize how to adapt their infrastructure, while teachers will want to consider ways to incorporate mobile learning into their curriculum.

Technologically-based tools provide opportunities for students to learn both in and out of the classroom. The use of technological innovations such as cloud computing, mobile learning, bring‐your‐own‐device (BYOD) policies, learning analytics, open content, and remote or virtual laboratories provide flexibility in the personalization of learning, while also expanding learning capabilities beyond the classroom walls.

Towards More Data-Driven Evaluation of Technology Investments

In tandem with the emergence of adaptive learning platforms is the need for K-12 administrators to prioritize data-driven evaluations of past and future technology investments. At Hanover Research, our research team works with schools and districts across the country to provide the research support required to thoroughly evaluate these technological investments and adaptive learning strategies. Through our work, we have seen administrators reinforce their efforts to:

  • Develop front- and back-end data capture mechanisms to measure impact of technologies on teacher effectiveness and student achievement;
  • Use data to rigorously evaluate technology investments; and
  • Hold vendors accountable for the teaching and learning outcomes they promote.

While there is little research that directly addresses the efficacy of adaptive learning platforms, our research on educational technology provides general insight into the effectiveness of computer-based instruction, including the following:

  1. Adaptive learning is proven to have positive effects on students’ academic achievement. Our research identified two independent, rigorous studies of adaptive learning platforms. One study from the Educational Psychologist concludes that adaptive learning systems are as effective as human tutors are in improving student achievement. Another study finds that blended instruction using adaptive platforms is comparable in efficacy to that of traditional classroom-based instruction. In addition, several decades of research support the efficacy of computer-based instruction and educational technology in improving student achievement outcomes in reading and mathematics, specifically.
  1. There is no current consensus as to how computer-based instruction and other technology-based instructional tools may impact students’ behavioral and affective outcomes. Historically, there is a lack of well-designed research into the affective outcomes of adaptive and computer-based learning platforms. The methodological designs employed in past studies are limited in rigor and the research base is largely outdated, and therefore should be considered with caution. [Ed note – this article defines Affective Outcomes – KW]
  1. Research supports the efficacy of educational technology and adaptive learning in improving academic outcomes for special student populations (e.g., special education students, gifted students, and English language learners). Sources agree that these learners benefit from educational technology, including computer-based instruction, though there are differing opinions as to the degree of impact. Research on tools such as READ 180 and Cognitive Tutor supports the use of these platforms with special student populations, as both programs have documented significant academic gains for these student subgroups.

Throughout the coming years, K-12 educators will continue to employ strategies and tools which personalize learning, placing the student at the center of his or her educational experience. In order to use Next Generation Learning techniques to effectively ensure student success, however, administrators need evidence-based strategies to incorporate new technologies and teaching approaches into district policy, even as they evaluate the effectiveness of new and future technology investments.

This article supplements Hanover’s breakdown of Next Generation Learning developments, found within its 2014 K-12 Market Leadership Report.

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