I received this link to an article on educational technology in the classroom and its effects on test scores. *rolling my eyes*
Ok, before I get sarcastic, let’s look at what the study was examining: software in the classroom. For one thing, I am not a big fan of software. It’s expensive and needs to be upgraded every so many years depending on the hardware you’re using. So let me just say from the beginning that I am a little biased already. There is so much more potential in web-based solutions. Free ones are awesome if they do what you need for them to do. Subscriptions are fine too because if you find that the program is not working, you just don’t subscribe the following year. You can’t do that with software.
What were the study’s findings? There was no difference in the test scores of students who used software vs. the ones who did not use software. The teachers were trained on the software and said they would use it again the following year. A follow-up study is being done on whether the experience of the teacher using the software made a difference since the original study was based on one year’s use (prior to the study there was no software used).
This article raises several questions for me.
- What pedagogical practices were used to frame the use of technology in these lessons?
- Was the software simply a means to an end or was it used in a meaningful context?
- What type of feedback did the students receive?
- Did the software meet the students where they were academically, tailoring instruction to their needs?
I’m sure I would have more questions if I had more time to really think about this. After reading the article, my head is swimming. I see students use software sometimes. I know they become bored with it after a while too. Especially middle school students who are very social creatures. There isn’t a lot of interaction with a computer screen.
The last thing students need is one meaningless activity that doesn’t make connections with the world they live in. Software can be effective if used in the right context but not as the sole way technology is used. 21st century learners need more. They need to connect. They need to share. They need to interact. (See my earlier post: “Characteristics of a Digital Native” for more on what 21st century learners are like)
I think if the government wants to do a study, they should include more criteria. There are many wonderful schools out there integrating more than just software into their lessons. There has to be difference between classrooms where technology is part of the fabric of their experience, where students are participators in their learning and those classrooms where the teacher/software is the keeper of knowledge and students are observers in their own education. There has to be a difference. Let the government do a study on that and then we’ll talk about the effectiveness of integrating technology in the classroom.