What is the Impact of Technology on Learning?
Research literature throughout the past decade has shown that technology can enhance literacy development, impact language acquisition, provide greater access to information, support learning, motivate students, and enhance their self-esteem (ACT, 2004; CEO Forum, 2001; Boster et al., 2004; Mann et al., 1999; Tracey & Young, 2006; WestEd, 2002). Indeed, researchers have affirmed that computer technology provides abundant opportunities for students to build or modify their personal knowledge through the rich experiences that technology affords.
Technology and Content Area Learning
Kinzer and Leu (1997) demonstrated positive effects of technology on both learning in a content area and learning to use technology itself. They studied the potential of multimedia and hypermedia technologies. One study, The Reporter Project, used multimedia technology to enhance sixth-grade students’ information gathering and writing skills. The Reporter Project was developed and tested in sixth-grade classrooms for two years and showed that students made statistically significant improvement in their recognition and use of elements such as main ideas, supporting details, and cause and effect relationships. Their writing was also more cohesive than their control-group peers who were taught using similar materials and sequences but without the use of technology.
Technology and Reading Comprehension
Findings consistent with these emerged from a meta-analysis conducted by Pearson et al. (2005). The authors reviewed 20 research studies related to using digital tools and learning environments on middle-school students in the following areas:
- Strategy Use
- Reading Motivation
- Reading Engagement
- Reading Comprehension
They defined digital tools to include a wide range of media forms: images, video and audio clips, hypertext, hypermedia, and Web pages. The majority of studies they found dealt with reading comprehension and vocabulary development. Pearson et al. concluded that a wide range of digital tools enhance reading comprehension and vocabulary development by providing students access to word pronunciation, word meaning, contextual information, and comprehension scaffolds to guide an individual’s reading. Thus, a strong research base supports the conclusion that technology can enhance all aspects of literacy development.
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