Determining whether classroom technology actually boosts student performance is the next big challenge facing educators, administrators, and researchersand the author provides a detailed process for uncovering answers. The article gives strategies for producing data that show how technology is affecting learning in ways that aren’t readily measured by standardized testing.
First, schools must have an effective technology infrastructure in place, which the author defines as a system that provides (1) access to all students and faculty, (2) regular training for faculty, and (3) integration of technology into the entire curriculum.
The next matter is to determine the information you need to assess technology’s impact. Try to seek data that are as specific as possible, the author advises, while recognizing limitations on budget and time. Data should be obtained at different grade levels and through multiple methods, such as teachers’ comments, students’ grades and test scores, and frequency of technology use.
Collecting the data is the next issue. Teachers are the best source for information on the makeup of students, use of computers on a regular basis, and how technology is integrated into the classroom. One sample teacher survey can be found online at http://www.wested.org/tie/ techplan/pdfs/TSURVEY.pdf.
Student performance provides another important source of quantifiable data, such as test scores and absentee rates. A selection of students should be surveyed about their experiences with classroom technology. In addition, making a catalog of student projectsweb pages, computer-assisted art, videos, etc.will demonstrate the range of learning that can be supported through technology.
Parents also can be queried in the data-collection process. A few basic questions about access to technology at home and parents’ proficiency with technology will provide valuable insights into what students already know when they come into the school program, and whether technology is valued by the students’ familes.
Also, data can be collected using the technology itself. The author suggests a “scope and sequence” method that identifies, in order, the technology skills that students are expected to master. The Milpitas (Calif.) Unified School District’s technology scope and sequence (http://www. milpitas.k12.ca.us) is a good example.
Other resources for assessing technology use include:
• North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium’s Learning with Technology profile tool: http://www.ncrtec.org/capacity/ profile/profile.htm
• Western Carolina University’s competency list for students: http://www.ceap.wcu.edu/ Martin/Compdef.htm#10
• International Society for Technology in Education’s NETS standards: http://www.iste.org
• Utah Educational Awareness Project’s rubrics and online teacher skill survey: http://www.uen.org/utap
Finally, the conclusions drawn from your studies must be shared throughout the school or district, with parents and students as well as educational staff. Local citizens who are concerned about education (chamber of commerce, school board, etc.) also should be informed. Conclusions should identify the technology system used in the school, typical measures of student performance, and the unique achievements made possible through technology use.