Because technology is everywhere, anecdotes about technology abound. Almost everyone in your school has opinions — strong opinions! — about the effect that technology has on learning.
If we move past anecdotes, what does the research show?
For all sorts of reasons, researching technology in education is tricky to do. (For one thing: by the time a particular innovation has been researched, it’s most likely out of date.)
The National Bureau of Education Research has done a heroic job of surveying quality research, and they’ve reached four conclusions:
First: especially in K-12 classrooms, simply adding technology doesn’t consistently increase learning. Unsurprisingly, students get better at learning the technology. Whether they get better at learning the academic content, however, is much less clear.
Second: “computer-assisted learning” has shown real promise. When students solve math problems on a computer, and find out right away whether or not they got the right answer — and why — their learning clearly benefits.
Third: “behavioral nudges” by text reminders (for example) do have a measurable effect. And, they’re really inexpensive.
Fourth: “relative to courses with some degree of face-to-face teaching, students taking online-only courses may experience negative learning outcomes” (88-89). That’s research speak for online courses don’t (yet) help students learn as well as physically-present-and-breathing teachers do.
If your school is pursuing technology zealously, it might be worth your while to contribute the $5 at the link above to get the full report.