While there’s been a tremendous amount of research about the best ways to use technology in education, finding information that has been obtained through objective studies and that is relevant to your individual needs can be difficult. The authors offer a series of tips on how to navigate the ever-growing library of ed-tech studies:
1. Think carefully about what information you are seeking. Framing your question as specifically as possible will aid you in web searches and literature reviews. The authors recommend that you try writing down in sentence form the question(s) that need to be answered.
2. Take advantage of the many forms of research summarization that exist to increase the speed of your review. The authors specifically recommend publications (such as Education Technology Literature Review) that provide literature reviews, but they warn that summaries sometimes can oversimplify research results. This is particularly the case when a summary refers to research on one type of student, but the study itself might have observed several different types of students. It’s quite possible that this study will be relevant to your particular needs, but this fact won’t be obvious from the summary alone.
To address this problem, the authors have created an online educational resource that categorizes classroom technology in the fields of science and writing. This database lists references to articles based on the broad issues they study, which helps educators find articles on subjects of interest. The database can be found at http://hice.eecs.umich.edu/convergentanalysis.
3. Look for studies conducted with the support of actual K-12 educatorsnot just university-level academicians. The authors observe that this type of research seems to offer more substantive information that can carry over into the classroom experience.