In their intro to this report, DERN states:
“Taking into account the scarcity of rigorous research into the benefits of teaching and learning with digital technologies, [this is] an excellent systematic and comprehensive review. [It] reports on research between 2000 and 2012. It cited 48 studies of the attainment benefits for students aged between 5 and 18 years.”
A review of the exec summary highlights some interesting – and possibly surprising – conclusions. They certainly make the point that drawing a causal link between achievement and the use of technology is a long bow. In several of the studies they reviewed, the use of technology produced slightly lowereffects on achievement than other interventions such as learner feedback:
“Taken together, the correlational and experimental evidence does not offer a convincing case for the general impact of digital technology on learning outcomes. This is not to say that it is not worth investing in using technology to improve learning. But it should encourage us to be cautious in the face of technological solutions to educational challenges. Careful thought is needed to use technology to best effect.“
It is perhaps less of a surprise to read that, although the technology engages learners, the impact on learning was achieved only when technology aligned with intended learning outcomes:
“There is no doubt that technology engages and motivates young people. However this benefit is only an advantage for learning if the activity is effectively aligned with what is to be learned. It is therefore the pedagogy of the application of technology in the classroom that is important: the how rather than the what. This is the crucial lesson emerging from the research.
While this may not be a surprise to us, I see in many schools, where the vision is not yet clear for learning, that technologies are added on and not aligned to learning, resulting in ‘busy work’ and frustration. Most crucially, it misses the opportunity to re-imagine how learning might be redesigned to be more inclusive and personalised (with and without technology) than it might have been in the past.
Trends in the report
I would recommend anyone involved in weaving technology into learning review the trends outlined in the exec summary, even if you don’t have time to go further into the report.
There are some interesting points made, such as the fact that, pedagogically, collaborative use of technology had more impact on learning than individual use, and impact was greater on writing than on reading or spelling.
So what? Recommendations for educators
The report makes five recommendations for educators that are worth exploring:
- The rationale for the impact of digital technology on teaching and learning needs to be clear;
- The role of technology in learning should be identified;
- Technology should support collaboration and effective interaction for learning;
- Teachers and/or learners should be supported in developing their use of digital technology to ensure it improves learning;
- Identify what learners and teachers will stop doing.
Have look at the report for yourself, and consider how it stacks up to the evidence you have seen in your own work or in other reports.
Higgins, S. , Xiao, Z., & Katsipataki, M. (2012). Impact of digital technology on learning: a summary for the education endowment foundation. Education Endowment Foundation. Retrieved fromhttp://larrycuban.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/the_impact_of_digital_technologies_on_learning_full_report_2012.pdf
Image credit: San Jose Library: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjoselibrary/2839835109/