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Findings from the Latest Ed Tech Research

by Lori Gracey

It’s important for educators to stay current on best practices in teaching and learning. Every day, new research articles appear with the latest findings. Let’s take a look at what the most recent studies have found regarding the use of technology for learning. I’ll be referring to the report “Will Technology Transform Education for the Better?” from MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab’s North America office.

Access to Technology Isn’t Enough

The latest research is clear: Providing greater access to technology and the Internet don’t make any difference in learning UNLESS the teaching is also changed. While having more access to devices does improve student proficiency using computers, it does not automatically equate to a rise in test scores. In order to see greater learning, how teaching is structured must change to include student voice and choice as well as a redefinition of what must be learned to be successful.

Online Learning Must Include the Personal, Too

“We found that relative to courses with some degree of face-to-face teaching, students taking online-only courses may experience negative learning outcomes,” the report says. This report found that the teacher/student relationship is key to long-term learning. So if students are enrolled in online-only classes, there must be opportunities created for them to really get to know their teacher and each other. This is why blended learning is such an effective strategy. It combines both the power of face-to-face interaction and the personalized aspects of online study.

“Nudging” Parents and Students Can Help

Text and other technology-based messages to students and parents can be an affordable way to make a meaningful difference, the J-PAL North America team concluded. This could include tips of helping with reading for parents of elementary children and information about grades, attendance, and work that is due for secondary students. To be most successful, the nudge must encourage specific, one-time actions.

If you would like to learn more about these research findings and others, consider having your campus or district take part in the empowerED program with TCEA. The program is based on conclusive findings of what works best to accelerate student achievement and includes a component on how best to implement blended learning. It is extremely cost effective, starting at just $56/educator and includes hands-on professional learning, online resources, and the opportunity to network and share with your peers. Registration is open now for the fall.

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