Digital Tools Are Effective...?

Blake Harvard, The Effortful Educator blog, shares his conclusions after exploring some survey results. Let's take a quick look at the results that left him scratching his head:
“While educators think digital tools are effective for many learning activities, they need more information to gauge their effectiveness. 
Fewer than three in 10 teachers (27%), principals (25%) and administrators (18%) say there is a lot of information available about the effectiveness of the digital learning tools they use. 
About half of teachers (49%) say they have some information about the learning tools they use in their classroom, while 24% say they have little or no information at all.”
I had to break that paragraph up so I could work my way through the data. Blake makes this observation:
It seems every school year there is a new gadget or tool that should revolutionize education…but they never deliver. As a teacher, I’m tired of wasting my time and my student’s time on digital tools that either don’t improve instruction, or worse, hinder it. We all deserve better.
I can't disagree with Blake. Having been an edtech administrator for years, I can attest to the fact that sometimes, bad tech found its way into schools. That usually happened when the superintendent or assistant super of curriculum & instruction wanted to push a technology through. They had just had a free meal at a vendor's expense, so they'd convene a meeting with directors from around the district. Next thing you know, schools or C&I departments would be submitting purchase orders.

People often thought I was pretty tough on letting tech into the District (whichever that one happened to be at the time). A few of the technologies I pushed back on included vendor solutions that involved more drill-n-practice, tutorial of students. I saw technology that didn't involve students making things, creating stuff, engaging them in authentic problems as a wasted effort. In retrospect, even those standards weren't tough enough. What if I'd known about Hattie's work?

In the Gallup Poll

In the Gallup poll, Educators Agree on the Value of EdTech, I have to ask how many of these technology uses align to research-based practices. Some of the key points:

  • Digital learning tools are integral to teaching and learning.
  • Digital learning tools are effective across a broad range of learning activities.
  • Digital learning tools are more effective than non-digital learning tools for connecting learning to future jobs and careers, personalizing instruction and engaging students.
  • Majorities of educators believe digital learning tools support content that aligns with state standards or district initiatives.
  • Educators say there is some but not a lot of information about the effectiveness of digital learning tools.

For me, the real excitement is in the chart shown below:

Note the instructional strategies mentioned above.  Uh huh.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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