How to assess impact of ICTs on learning?

It’s certainly an interesting question – to what extent ICT raises student achievement – and I appreciate the accountability that schools have, especially after significant investment from the BoTs:-) While we do need to be asking questions about the impact of our teaching, I’m not sure that focusing on the impact on ICT alone is the right question.

It is, perhaps, more useful, when looking for evidence of impact, to look at the whole picture, rather than at just one of many variables in play. If, for example, a school invested in a set of iPads for a class, provided professional development on their effective integration, and then used them as part of a focus on literacy, it would be reasonable to gather information on:

  • How the technology impacted on teacher practice, in terms of pedagogical approach and the way they planned effective literacy teaching experiences (lesson notes, teacher conversation, observation..)
  • How the technology impacted on student learning in the context of literacy i.e. how it enhanced the literacy content or the activities in which students were invited to engage in literacy (student/teacher/parent voice; observation; lesson notes)
  • Shifts in literacy competencies (literacy tools; teacher judgement; student/teaxcher/parent dialogue; observation)

…then triangulate the information to describe impact holistically. At best, you could draw some possible links, but it is very hard to make causal links when there are so many factors in the learning story (check out the Manaiakalani Trust link below for an example..).

Other resources that might be useful related to this:

There are plenty of studies that highlight the way effective use of ICTs can lead to engagement (of prior learning, of culture, of interests…)  – this is certainly a pre-cursor or enabler for active learning.  Research from a decade of ICTPD from Vince Ham et al (2010) showed that ICTs can support students to:

  • feel motivated and engaged
  • enhance thinking, communication and creation skills
  • enhance social & collaborative skills
  • scaffold and differentiate their content knowledge
[this post originally appeared in a closed discussion of the National Aspiring Principals’ Programme in the VLN; image source: aussiegall]

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