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Top 6 Ways to Use Tech to Boost Student Achievement


Successfully integrating technology into the classroom so that it genuinely advances student achievement—this is the Holy Grail of anyone with a stake in America’s educational system. A recent study on successful tech integration conducted by the American Institutes for Research offers eye-opening data and thought-provoking recommendations. Here are EducationWorld’s best takeaways from the findings.

#6 Not All Tech is the Same - Each technology is likely to play a different role in students' learning. Rather than trying to describe the impact of all technologies as if they were the same, Steve Jobs with iPadresearchers need to think about what kind of technologies are being used in the classroom and for what purposes. Two general distinctions can be made. Students can learn "from" computers—where technology is used essentially as a tutor and serves to increase students’ basic skills and knowledge. They also can learn "with" computers—where technology is applied to a variety of goals in the learning process and serves to develop higher-order thinking, creativity and research skills.

#5 Use Tech That Will Help Your Students - Before technology is purchased or teachers participate in their first professional development session, the educational goals for students should be determined. What do students need to learn, and how can technology help them learn it? To answer these questions, the school can convene a technology planning team including administrators, teachers, other instructional staff, technology coordinators, students, parents, and representatives of the community. This team can determine the types of technology that will best support identified goals.

#4 Teachers Must Be Comfortable With The Tech - After the educational goals and vision of learning through technology have been determined, it is important to provide professional development to teachers to help them choose the most appropriate technologies and instructional strategies to meet these goals. Students cannot be expected to benefit from technology if their teachers are neither familiar nor comfortable with it. Teachers need to be supported in their efforts to use technology.

#3 Tech Support is a Must - Increased use of technology in the school requires a robust technical infrastructure and adequate technical support—simply buying a bunch of computers or tablets isn’t enough. If teachers are working with a technology infrastructure that realistically cannot support the work they are trying to do, they will quickly become frustrated.

#2 Evaluate, But Temper Expectations - Ongoing evaluation of technology applications and student achievement—based on identified educational goals—helps ensure that the technology is appropriate, adaptable and useful. Such evaluation also facilitates adjustments if learning goals are not being met. Administrators can acknowledge and recognize incremental improvements in student outcomes as well as changes in teachers' curricula and practices. Gradual progress, rather than sudden transformation, is more likely to result in long-term change.

#1 Don’t Rush Into Something - Educators are not immune to the technology hype that rages all over the country. The pressure to get online or to give students access to the newest technology can be strong. Administrators who feel overwhelmed may make hasty or ill-conceived purchasing decisions. Careful planning for technology use is essential because technology is expensive. Few schools have the luxury of changing their hardware and software configurations after making a hefty financial commitment.

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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