Some authorities claim no evidence exists that technology has a positive impact on teaching and learning – is this true?

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 | technology

When the impact of technology on education is discussed, varied opinions are expressed.  Some of them are: 

  • absolutely no evidence that technology has a positive impact
  • no conclusive evidence that technology makes a difference
  • it can’t hurt
  • the best thing since sliced bread
  • lots of anecdotal evidence that technology improves learning
  • proven beyond doubt that technology makes a difference in the classroom.

Published research results are not conclusive and vary according to the sample taken, the area where the research was done, as well as by whom the research was done.  In general, when research is based on a single school, or a small sample of schools in a particular region, or schools using a particular product, the results are positive.  This can be attributed to the fact that when research is commissioned as part of a pilot study, more support is given to teachers – therefore the measurable results are positive. 

Larger research studies often show that technology has little or no impact on teaching and learning.  A random selection of schools is used for these studies – schools where teachers receive no support are included and often account for the bulk of the research data. 

A reasonable conclusion is that when teachers are supported and trained to use technology in a focused way, positive outcomes can be expected.  However, technology has little or no impact on learning when it is just implemented – dumped – and the teachers then left alone, with no support. 

You may read success stories or meet other teachers who claim that technology has changed their classrooms for the better; others may be less enthusiastic about the success of technology. 

Do you want technology to have a positive impact in your classroom?  It can, even if so far it has not improved learner outcomes in your region or in your school. 

The only way in which you will know the value of technology is if you put it to the test yourself.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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6 Comments to Some authorities claim no evidence exists that technology has a positive impact on teaching and learning – is this true?

[...] Some authorities claim no evidence exists that technology has a … [...]

Albie
Sunday, 2 January, 2011

So sad to read that “some authorities” (is it educational authorities or “other”?) claim absolutely no / no conclusive evidence exists that technology has a positive impact on teaching and learning. Wow … the words “no evidence” = a matter for very serious concern …. and thus, …

If this is the case, remove all technological devices from a school NOW – from the “older technological devices” such as telephones, fax machines, photocopiers, duplicating machines, televisions, video casette players, intercom systems, OHPs (overhead projector), calculators, radio casette players, 8mm + 16mm projectors, microphones, speakers and sound systems to the more “modern technological devices” such as digital alarm systems, CCTV, data projectors, computers, servers, cellphones and EIAWB.

Let us remain just with talk + chalk, green boards, textbooks, A4 scribble books and blue ballpoint pens with one HB4 pencil (ohhh!!! and an inches ruler). Maybe a cane or two will also do in the educational learning process, environment and classroom setup !! Just to ensure that no technology whatsoever prevails in the classroom, switch off the electricity too just to be on the “safe” side!!

Albie Anti-Technology and back to the very old traditional and antiquated teaching equipment, styles, methodology and methods.

Mark C
Sunday, 2 January, 2011

ICT does make a positive impact on learning but it depends on many other factors. Academic achievement depends on lots of factors too, many not related to ICT. Many studies have been done to link good achievement to ICT usage. The results must always be carefully studied because incorrect conclusions can be drawn from them. In research one always should look at the constraints placed on the study, where it was done, by whom, etc etc. Also, can this study be replicated and will it give similar results? This is where a minefield lies.

A problem with linking ICT with achievement is that the same results can be obtained if learners were given reasonable resources and they were involved in their learning. But saying this a lot can go wrong between the cup and the lip. A learner can study very well and still do poorly in an exam or any other assessment.(This is another debate). Recently an article in the Physics Comment a point was made that poor performance in Physics was due to other factors “outside” of the subject itself.

So am I against using ICT in education? No! Am I saying that it cannot make a difference? No! What I am saying is that when we think of linking academic achievement to ICT usage then past research say we are on shaky ground.

Where I will agree with use of ICT is when it is used in teaching and learning as a matter of fact. I am teaching learners electrodynamics and I can use ICT to make the concepts surrounding it clearer. If I am teaching boiling points of organic molecules then I can get my learners to use a spreadsheet to create a table and a chart. To show the effects of acceleration I can show a video and so on. These few examples show how I can use ICT. Whether it will lead learners to do well academically is another story.

What I like are the little bits of things one can do with ICT that will make a learner think, appreciate the learning and spark an interest which will spur him/her on to pursue further study formally or informally.

The problem with today’s education system is that it is far too result-driven instead learning-driven. It is politically-led instead of educationally-led. The love and passion for learning has been lost even when ICT is involved.

I have always felt and still feel that the value of ICT lay in the daily things we do and not necessarily in academic achievement exclusively. When we do that we may gain the knowledge but lose the appreciation for the beauty of learning which is far more valuable.

Leighton
Sunday, 2 January, 2011

I think technology does have a positive effect on Teaching. It allows us to see the art of what we do with new eyes. Take for example, ‘Screencasting’
(recording the computer screen as you explain a concepts on your computer).Pre- recording and capturing what you’ve explained to a group of students and making it available for all to access in the computer lab is really valuable, particularly doing something like a Maths investigation or a scientific analysis). After an initial plenary, particularly working in a computer lab or with laptops in a classroom, once you’ve screencasted your lessons, any learner is able to access that recording again and again, to hear your voice explaining an idea or concept. What a great opportunity for differentiation as well during your lessons.

John Thole
Sunday, 2 January, 2011

Do we really still need to find reasons or justify to people that technology is here to stay and that young people need opportunities to develop skills and have access to ICTs? Surely we can’t be regressing to the extent whereby authorities are so entangled in their bureaucratic webs that they have forgotten to look around them and see how the world in which we all live is 100% dependent on the use and application of technologies – goeie genugtig!

HickmanGoldie27
Monday, 7 February, 2011

Some time before, I really needed to buy a good house for my firm but I didn’t earn enough money and couldn’t purchase something. Thank goodness my fellow proposed to try to take the mortgage loans at trustworthy creditors. Therefore, I acted so and was satisfied with my college loan.

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