But Does It Work?
Some thoughts about the effectiveness of educational technology, and how
we should think about it in school settings.
(Prepared for In-Service Day Conference for Seattle teachers at the
University of Washington, October, 1996, and revised for discussion with
UW College of Education Partner School representatives, January, 1997.)
1. How Do We Frame the Question?- Does technology
(computers, multimedia, WWW, etc.) affect outcomes on standardized
- Does technology affect students' abilities to solve problems
- - Do textbooks affect....?
- - Difficult to tell
- - Is this really the question that we want answered today?
- Does technology affect students' abilities to solve better
- - Some evidence that it does
- - But "transfer" is still problematic
- - Question is better, but still may not be the one we want answered
- - Probably, but it depends what we mean by "better problems"!
- - "More authentic, real-world, challenging tasks"
- - Collaborative work environments, differentiated student roles
- - Catalyst for different mode of classroom structure, teacher's role, etc.
2. Modes of Technology Use in Classrooms
- TUTOR (traditional CAI; drill & practice; ILSs)
- Supplies support, reinforcement; limited model; "ID effect"
- TOOL (application software -- WP, spreadsheets, databases, CAD, etc.)
- Develops skills; attention too focused on format?
- TOY (games and game-like programs)
- Sense of involvement and challenge; but: reliance on extrinsic
- TUTEE (simulations, "probeware," LOGO, etc.)
- Flexible exploration; diverse outcomes; difficulties in
- TRACKER (Internet and WWW; networked environments)
- Wealth of information; sifting skills become central)
- TRANSFEROR (E-mail and mail-based projects)
- Strong interest and broadened "sense of the world"; need for project
- TELEPRESENTOR (virtual reality)
- Feeling of "presence"; problems of orientation and action
3. Why Are the Results so Varied?
- Standard vs. Diverse Outcomes
- Difficulties in Design
- - Exploratory environments, diverse paths; need better, more varied indicators
- Lack of Comparable Settings
- - Longitudinal tracking, unanticipated effects (ILSs)
- - School curriculum, local support, teacher preparation, etc.
4. Issues in Research and Evaluation
- Technology Can:
- BUT: Technology Can also:
- - Make standards known to students (and teachers)
- - Link evaluation and teaching more closely
- - Make performances re-playable, accessible, portable (e.g., use in portfolios)
- - Exaggerate SES differences ("haves" vs. "have-nots")
- - Exaggerate differences among students (more aware students use it maximally)
- - Require special preparation of students (environments not "self-evident")
5. Next Frontiers in Research and Evaluation
- Classroom Context
- Social Issues
- - Changes in students', teacher's roles
- (Now well-documented; how to define?)
- - Student enthusiasm and sense of agency
- Constructivism and Technology
- - Gender equity (and how technology uses are viewed, F/M)
- - Race/ethnicity
- - SES
- Knowledge Navigation and Connoisseurship
- - Collaborative work
- - Learning as social and "socially distributed"
- - Situated learning
- - Self-regulated learning
Back to Kerr's Home Page
- - Finding information
- - Finding valuable information (sifting)
- - Sorting and integrating
Stephen T Kerr
Email -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Web -- http://weber.u.washington.edu/~stkerr/