Study reveals factors in ed-tech success

“I was really pleased that the tech-infused intervention classes scored so highly in almost all the academic outcomes,” said Jeanne Hayes, president of the Hayes Connection and a co-author on the study. “I see, daily, [those programs] getting cut because of budget problems.”

Among all school surveyed, 50 percent say they are seeing a reduction in student disciplinary actions, and 56 percent of their students plan to attend college. Among schools with 1-to-1 computing programs, these figures are 65 percent and 66 percent, respectively. But for schools with 1-to-1 programs that report using proper implementation strategies, including regular formative assessment and teacher collaboration, these figures jump to 82 percent and 86 percent.

In general, schools with lower student-to-computer ratios have better measurable results than schools with higher ratios. But still, too few schools are taking full advantage of their ed-tech investments.

“Very few schools implement many of [the] key implementation factors, despite large investments in infrastructure and hardware,” Project RED said.

For instance, researchers found that not one school with a 1-to-1 student-to-computer ratio deployed all of the key implementation factors.

“Schools with devices can help students learn, but proper implementation drives even greater gains,” said Michael Gielniak, director of programs and development for the One-to-One Institute. “These findings are particularly significant, in light of the national agenda for education reform.”

Frequency of use is important

While technology can have a lasting impact, the frequency of its use is vital to that impact.

“The daily use of technology in core classes correlates highly to desirable education success measures,” Project RED said. “Daily technology use was one of the top five indicators of better discipline, better attendance, and increased college attendance.”

Among schools with 1-to-1 computing programs, daily technology use in core classes ranged from 57 percent to 62 percent. “Unfortunately, many schools reported using the technology only weekly or less frequently for many classes,” the researchers said.

Lento suggested this underutilization might be a reflection of too little professional development, both for teachers and school leaders. Professional development is important not just for educators in knowing how to use technology effectively in their classes, but also for administrators in leading transformational change in their schools.

Social media use also has an impact

Collaboration and social media are increasingly important as 21st-century skills become key factors in college and workplace success.

“Web 2.0 social media substantially enhance collaboration productivity, erasing the barriers of time, distance, and money,” Project RED said. “Collaboration can now extend beyond the immediate circle of friends to include mentors, tutors, and experts worldwide. Real-time collaboration increases student engagement, one of the critical components for student success.”

Team members “were thrilled” with the effects of social media use reflected in the report, Hayes said. “If you think about how kids operate, they’ve always wanted to communicate with each other. So the fact that technology can help us” is encouraging, she added.

Sixty-five percent of responding schools that use social media saw a drop in disciplinary action, versus 56 percent of schools not using social media. More than half (52 percent) saw a reduction in dropout rates, whereas just 37 percent of schools not using social media saw a dropout rate reduction.

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