Research Evidence for Using Educational Technology
The Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET), a funded project of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), has the most comprehensive review of research evidence available on the impact of technology in education (see http://caret.iste.org) . The What Works Clearinghouse, established by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide "high-quality reviews of scientific evidence of the effectiveness of replicable educational interventions," is also a source for this research evidence.
CARET's approach to the rationale for technology use is based on what educators have been saying for years: Simply having students use technology does not raise achievement. The impact depends on the ways the technology is used and the conditions under which applications are implemented. For example, CARET poses the question, "How can technology influence student academic performance?" It answers this question by citing studies that indicate that the application influences performance, not as a delivery system, but as instruction that works under certain circumstances.
As the CARET project illustrates, the case for using technology in teaching is one that must be made not just by isolating variables that make a difference, but by combining them. Practitioners have cited over the years a number of reasons why we should integrate technology into teaching.
To Motivate Students
- Gaining their attention — Teachers say technology's visual and interactive qualities can direct students' attention toward learning tasks.
- Supporting manual operations during high-level learning — Students are more motivated to learn complex skills (e.g., writing compositions and solving algebraic equations) when technology tools help them do the low-level skills involved (e.g., making corrections to written drafts or doing arithmetic).
- Illustrating real-world relevance through highly visual presentations — When students can see that high-level math and science skills have real-life applications, it is no longer just "school work"; they are more willing to learn skills that have clear value to their future life and work.
- Engaging them through production work — Students who learn by creating their own products with technologies such as word processing, multimedia, hypermedia, and other technology products report higher engagement in learning and a greater sense of pride in their achievements (Doering, Beach, & O'Brien, 2007; Doering & Veletsianos, 2007; Franklin, 1991; Taylor, 1989; Tibbs, 1989; Volker, 1992).
- Connecting them with audiences for their writing — Educators say that students are much more motivated to write and do their best production work when they publish it on the web, since others outside the classroom will see their work (Cohen & Riel, 1989; Doering & Beach, 2002; Doering, Beach, & O'Brien, 2007).
- Engaging learners through real-world situations and collaborations — Students who see the application of what they are studying as authentic and real world are motivated by the application to their daily lives (Doering & Veletsianos, 2008, p. 8).
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