Monday, November 17, 2014

Article Review #6- Educational Technology Research Past and Present: Balancing Rigor and Relevance to Impact School Learning

Article Review #6- Educational Technology Research Past and Present: Balancing Rigor and Relevance to Impact School Learning

Lowther, D.L., Morrison, G.R., and Ross, S.M. (2010). Educational technology research past and present: balancing rigor and relevance to impact school learning. Contemporary Educational Technology, 1(1), 17-35.


Main Points:
Lowther, Morrison, and Ross researched several areas in educational technology ranging from its effectiveness to its trends.  I focused my review on just one section of their article- Is Educational Technology Effective: Meaningful Domains for Research.  The authors defined effectiveness as its effect size.  It is determined by the amount of achievement gains students make versus a classroom/school that does not integrate technology as a controlled variable.  The authors find it pointless to compare the different types of media available.  They note that nearly any type of media or technology tool could be used in an effective way.  It is dependent on the teacher’s instructional strategies and implementation of the tool.  The tool may enhance or offer alternate methods for the lesson.  The authors make clear that the effectiveness of a tool is dependent on how it helps the teacher and students reach their goals.

The first usage of technology that the authors evaluated is Technology as a Tutor.  One of the oldest and most used types of technology are known as CAIs.  Those are computer assisted instruction.  This type of technology has been around for a while and it was and is used for skill and drill practice.  They are often more engaging to students because of the animations.  The argument the authors make is whether the tool is more effective than a teacher-led lesson.  They see both sides of the debate.  The CAI can take the place of a poorly implemented teacher-led lesson and give better results.  Ineffective CAI can also distract from a well-designed teacher-led lesson.  The authors believe that CAI should be used to supplement, not replace instruction.  Some ideas that the authors suggest to help supplement lessons include: practice of skills, remedial instruction, enrichment instruction, over-the-summer instruction, higher-order thinking activities, and test prep.

The second use of technology that Lowther, Morrison, and Ross evaluate is Technology as a Teaching Aide.  Researchers need to evaluate the role it plays in a teacher’s organization and creation of lessons.  Allowing teachers to create lessons and make the material more meaningful may be an effective use of technology integration.  Technology increases engagement and the ability to interact.  Classroom response systems (clickers or more updated, Plickers) can help teachers instantly view and organize data.  They can give students instant feedback and use the instant data to help student progress.  

Finally, the authors looked into Technology as a Learning Tool.  One startling fact that the authors learned was that education was the least technology-integrated industry among 55 other industries.  Reports showed that high-school students were not prepared with the technology skills needed for many positions in the workforce.  Creating multimedia presentations, typing skills, and communication are skills that are lacking.  Schools that become more technology-intensive became more student-centered and promoted higher-order thinking.  There were increases in writing and problem solving skills.  Students, parents, and teachers developed a more positive attitude toward technology.  Peer-coaching was more present.  In opposition, the authors did not find that students had an achievement advantage on state assessments. There are short-term advantages that the authors noted, like higher engagement and and improved technology skills.  Teachers need to focus less on improving on state assessments and instead make technology more effective.  

Reflection and Application:

The portion of the article I read pertained to measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of media in the classroom.  I feel like much of the information the authors presented is reflective of the debate that teachers are actually struggling with.  Is the tool I am using worthy?  Is this supporting my students academic growth or is this just fun?  I do think we need to evaluate each tool we use.  I also feel like we may not know the benefits or usefulness of a tool until we have actually implemented the tool.  

In the section Technology as a Tutor, I saw a lot of correlation between the authors recommendations for the use of this technology and what I and other teachers I work with are using every day.  We use things like TenMarks, Scootpad, Math Center Games on Pearson, etc.  

In the section Technolog as a Teaching Aide, is where I realized this is the level I am working in most frequently.  I am trying to use technology to make my life easier, more effective, and more efficient.  I am finding that as I use certain tools, some are working well and I can incorporate in nearly every day.  Others, I have once or twice but it becomes tedious or loses its novelty and I discontinue its use.

In the final section, Technology as a Learning Tool, is what I feel I am working towards.  This will happen a little easier and faster when our school goes one-to-one.  I struggled to give students all the opportunities I want them to have with limited availability.  I think selecting the right tools and deciding how and when to use them is a very important task to tackle.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Study #5: Research on In-Class Use of Laptops and Other Devices: Effects on Students’ Learning and Attention

Study #5: Research on In-Class Use of Laptops and Other Devices: Effects on Students’ Learning and Attention

(2014, September 24).  Research on in-class use of laptops and other devices: effects on students’ learning and attention.  The Teaching Center Journal. Retrieved from



The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of laptops and other electronic devices on a student’s attention and learning.  The authors looked into separate studies for sufficient data.  Researchers noted that students bring laptops to school for a variety of purposes, some educational and others not related to the course.  Some of the data will show that there were lower levels of engagement and negative relationships to students’ learning. Researchers investigated the difference between paper/pencil note-takers and laptop note-takers.  They noticed differences in memory retention.  Students that handwrite their class notes find way to select the most important information in order to keep up.  Those that were note-taking on their laptops give more of a transcript versus key notes.  The researchers believe there may be cognitive memory differences.  Researchers also noted that students who are “heavy media multitaskers”- able to switch between media and other tasks frequently had more difficulty separating relevant and irrelevant information.  This was further tested in the studies.

Participants and Methodology:

In one study conducted at the University of Michigan Center for Research Learning and Teaching.  The researchers selected sixteen various courses at the college.  In eight of the courses, the instructors were required to integrate technology and web-based lecture tools within their lessons.  The students could use their laptops to interact with lesson.  In the other eight courses, students could use their lessons but the instructors were required not to integrate web tools.  A total of 595 students were included in this study.

The second study was conducted at small university in the midwest.  137 students were surveyed.  The students were allowed to bring their laptops but the professor was not required to incorporate them into the lessons.  They completed multiple surveys related to attention, clarity in the lesson, and level of learning.  


In the first study, the courses that integrated lecture web tools and technology had higher levels of student engagement when compared to the classes that did not integrate technology into the lesson.  The integrated courses had 60% engagement whilst the control group (non-integrated lessons) had only 39% engagement.  In terms of learning, the integrated-technology courses had 53% of students reporting that the laptops helped their learning.  40% of the students in the non-integrated reported that it helped their learning.  In addition to reports of higher engagement and learning, 75% of the students in both groups also indicated that the laptops increased the amount of time they spent doing non-related activities on their computers.  They often felt distracted by other students’ computers as well.  The researchers determined that if the instructor incorporated technology into the lesson, the benefit was greater.  

In the second study, 83% of students reported that they used their laptops to take notes during the lecture.  At the same time, 81% of the students also reported using their laptops to check and send emails and 68% instant messaged.  43% surfed the web and 25% even played games.  In this study the researchers found that the use of laptops negatively affected a student’s course grades.  It also revealed that the students had lower engagement in the lesson and less understanding.  


I felt after reading this study that this is the real debate of going one-to-one.  Of course money and maintenance is a major consideration but what about the benefits on education.  These studies had conflicting data.  Technology can benefit learning but it can also cause unnecessary distraction.  One thing that I thought was key in the first study was the comparison courses that had technology integrated into the lesson versus the courses that did not.  This just goes to show how students prefer to learn and ways to help them stay engaged in today’s classroom.  As we have said before in class, technology is a tool.  If students are using it simply for the sake of using it, what is the benefit?  With younger students, it may be easier to control the technological distractions.  They are eager to learn the device or program.  The lesson may be more structured and the teacher may be more active in the activity.  As students get older, I see the multi-tasking increase and I see the teachers allowing more freedom with the technology.  The distractions may increase as well.  I think as we come into this new age of education, we are going to continue to see difficulties but also successes.  As the teacher, we need to be proactive and able to take risks.  I think, especially for older students, we need to gain a new type of patience.  We may not be able to control everything that is happening during the lesson in regards to the use of technology but we have to support the students the best way possible.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Article #4- Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating Multimedia in the K-12 Classroom

Understanding Multimedia Learning: Integrating Multimedia in the K-12 Classroom

SEG Research. (2008, September). Understanding multimedia learning: integrating multimedia in the K-12 classroom. 1-17.

 Main Points:

The SEG researchers approached multimedia in the classroom through study of the brain. Current students in the classroom are called digital natives. They are students that have grown up with technology in most aspects of their lives as opposed to many adults that have adapted to technology. Multimedia education is the use of the visual and auditory processing in the brain. The brain has a long term memory and a short term memory. The short term memory is also known as the working memory. The long term memory is where we store and combine new information. This is where our learning is growing and changing. The researchers pointed out that information cannot be stored in your long term memory until it has worked its way through your working memory. The working memory cannot store very much information and it only last for approximately 20 seconds. Researchers say there are visual and auditory channels within your working memory. Thinking about the way that students often receive information in the class room does not support both channels in your brain. Text is visual and somehow has to change itself into an auditory form in your brain. Researchers say that the visual channel can handle less information than the auditory channel. The research shows that if both channels are addressed at once, the more information your brain can retain. The researchers concluded that if multimedia information is presented in an effective way, more information will be transferred to the long term memory.

If the educator can find a way to use multimedia effectively it can reach the auditory and visual processing in the working memory. The teacher recognizes that text is difficult to process and that they can capitalize on the working memory in a better way. Researchers noted that using words and pictures together is more powerful than text words or spoken words alone. Narration and video is more powerful than a teacher narrating a text. Like I mentioned before, the narrating and reading of text functions from the same channel of visual. Some sort of presentation that includes animation and narration is more effective than a text filled presentation. If information can be presented with visual at the same time as the narration, it has a better chance of reaching the long term memory. Even having the imagery and the text closer together makes a difference. Researchers mentioned not to waste the working memory's space and to only present your objective as focused as possible.

One benefit of using multimedia is through differentiation. Students can view the information at a pace that is more appropriate for them as a learner. They can slow or pause the information to gain meaning. When students are given the opportunity to interact or utilize the presentation of information, they are more likely to enjoy the experience and perform better. They become actively engaged in the content and it is more meaningful to them. Researchers mentioned Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and using multimedia is a great way to reach the most learners.

Reflection and Application:

 As I think about creating lesson plans, I think back to college when we had to formulate each lesson in a very specific and detailed way. The lesson needed an opening/engagement piece and a closing/wrap-up. The goal is to embed the lesson into the learner's mind. We do that as teachers now. But, to think about how little space and how little time the mind allows a person to retain information is crazy. You have to be so precise and refined and focused. The way in which you present the information must play into that time frame. This article makes me rethink how valuable and effective my lessons are. Am I engaging the kids fast enough? Are they going to keep this information and be able to transfer it? Did I have extraneous information that is going to confuse them? How can use technology tools and multimedia to enhance my lessons?

Some of the things that came to mind when I was reading this article are actually some of the tools that we are discussing in 6215. The researchers mentioned that the closer the text is to the animation or images the more powerful. That makes me think of powerpoints or prezies. They also mentioned how narration and animation is even more powerful. I think about the screencasts that we will be creating. Like the article mentioned, they can pause and slow the information to meet their needs. I can see the benefits of screencasts. Using this in addition to other lessons could help students to transfer the information to their long term memory. Even the podcast could be more beneficial than the teacher lecturing. The student can pause the information and take notes.

One con I find to some of this is the loss of teachable moments or those tangents that inspire conversation. The one-on-one contact to see where a student is struggling and how to adapt and change to fit their needs. In light of some of those cons, there seems to be many benefits to using multimedia in the K-12 classroom.