Over the next group of weeks we will cover Technology in Education which will include insights into Education Technology infrastructure, Research, e-Learning, Mobile Computing, Social Networking and the Technological Divide that is tremendously growing throughout schools and school systems within the United States; specifically within Houston, Texas. We invite and encourage our entire readership to tap into this information so you are properly equipped and informed to make intelligent decisions for your children, grandchildren and future-generations. We now live in a “Knowledge Based Economy” (KBE) which means in simple terms that people are paid based on their knowledge levels in specific areas or vertical markets. For those who are educators, this data is being compiled from ‘Education Week.’ Stay tuned and here we go; today, we are discussing Research in Education.
While there is much on-going research on new technologies and their effects on teaching and learning, there is little rigorous, large-scale data that makes for solid research, education experts say. The vast majority of the studies available are funded by the very companies and institutions that have created and promoted the technology, raising questions of the research’s validity and objectivity. In addition, the kinds of studies that produce meaningful data often take several years to complete—a timeline that lags far behind the fast pace of emerging and evolving technologies.
For example, it is difficult to pinpoint empirical data to support the case for mobile learning in schools—a trend that educators have been exploring for several years now—let alone data to support even newer technologies such as tablet computers like the iPad. The studies that do look at the effects of mobile technologies on learning are often based on small samples of students involved in short-term pilots, not the kind of large-scale, ongoing samples of students that educators and policymakers would like to see (Education Week, Feb. 23, 2011).
However, there are a handful of large-scale studies that do point to trends and observations in the education technology field. For example, Project RED, a research initiative linked closely with the One-to-One Institute, which supports one-to-one laptop initiatives in K-12 schools, released a study about successful implementation models of education technology in October 2013. That study found that most of the schools that have integrated laptops and other digital tools into learning are not maximizing the use of those devices in ways that best make use of their potential. The report goes on to outline the critical steps needed to capitalize on that potential (Project RED, 2010).
- meta-analysis of more than a thousand studies regarding online learning was released by the U.S. Department of Education in 2011, followed by a revised version of the report in September 2013. That study concluded that students in online-only instruction performed modestly better than their face-to-face counterparts, and that students in classes that blended both face-to-face and online elements performed better than those in solely online or face-to-face instruction. However, the researchers cautioned that the vast majority of the studies in the meta-analysis were from students in higher education, and as a result, the conclusions drawn may not be applicable to K-12 education. In fact, a major finding of the meta-study was the severe lack of rigorous research studies regarding online learning in K-12 (U.S. Department of Education, 2010).
The Speak Up survey, which is conducted annually by Project Tomorrow—a non-profit research organization—and Blackboard, Inc., surveyed nearly 300,000 students, parents, teachers, and other educators about their views on technology in education. Findings from the 2013 survey found an increased interest from educators in mobile learning, as well as an increase in the number of students who own mobile devices such as smart-phones, regardless of economic or demographic differences. The survey also found an increased interest in online learning and blended learning opportunities, as well as electronic textbooks. While these studies represent some of the more large-scale research conducted in this field, education advocates emphasize the need for a wider range of well-researched, longitudinal, and ethically sound data on education technology.
In closing, huge differences in technology infrastructure remain among schools in the United States. And while chief technology officers generally say that school infrastructure is improving, many openly doubt that capability will catch up with demand, since new digital tools used in education are requiring ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth. The USA must get serious about solving this Education problem centrally because the longer we wait the further China and India moves ahead of the USA noting they also have larger human population which is a key driver to even greater growth output for China and India. Just something to think about as we have moved back to a “Flat-Global-Economy” versus an Industrial thanks to the Internet, similar to the time period prior to the Industrial Revolution when the country with the most human populations ruled the world based on economics and output(s).