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How Narrowing the Focus on Tech Tools Yields Better Results

There is no question that technology in the classroom has its benefits. However, in order to eliminate wasting money on devices that don’t suit the needs of teachers and students, Daniel Owens of THE Journal suggests focusing on what those particular needs are and finding the devices that align with them.

“Devices for education have become symbolic of the efforts to transform education through blended and personalized learning,” according to Owens.

“Desktops, laptops and tablets are quickly becoming ubiquitous in education. They are tangible examples of change and, with the exception of few dazzling products, nearly indistinguishable.

“When we are shown images that are supposed to reflect how technology is enhancing education, they are rarely pictures of particular software or data systems. They are students smiling and holding devices. Devices are crucial as a conduit for content; however, they do not directly improve learning outcomes.”

Owens sites a meta-analysis conducted by John Hattie, an education researcher. In his findings, “Teachers make a difference: what is the research evidence?”, Hattie outline the actual influences that improve learning.

Some of the influences included feedback, students’ prior cognitive ability, instructional quality, direct instruction, class environment, challenge of goals and other considerations. 

“Placing devices within the context of learning theory can help schools and districts determine their educational technology priorities. One of the most common questions educators ask when a discussion turns to technology is ‘What device should I buy?’ For all of the aforementioned reasons, the answer is always, ‘The one that does what you need it to do,’” according to the report.

“The thought process is important, however, because the device question should be one of the last ones asked, not the first. Districts should start by asking themselves how they want to improve learning.”

So, in Hattie’s research and Owens’ analysis, the teacher has a lot more power in the EdTech age than they may think. It’s about selecting tools that meet students' needs, technology can’t always glean what a student needs without the correct data from humans.

Read the full story.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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