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.

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