1 Learning Technology Effectiveness June 30, 2014 U.S. Department of Education Office of Education Technology
2 Acknowledgments This report was developed under the guidance of Richard Culatta and Bernadette Adams of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. Linda Shear of SRI International led report development and drafting. Barbara Means contributed writing and insightful feedback on drafts. Jeremy Roschelle contributed to the early shaping and content of this report, and Marie Bienkowski contributed additional feedback and references. Cynthia D’Angelo of SRI International and Douglas Clark of Vanderbilt University provided valuable information on learning games and simulations. Sarah Gerard provided research assistance and Brenda Waller provided administrative assistance. The report was edited by Mimi Campbell and Laurie Fox. Kate Borelli produced graphics and layout.
3 1. Introduction Student access to technology is no longer a privilege: it is a prerequisite for full participation in high-quality education opportunities. Increasingly, important learning resources used by students and teachers are digital, making access to the Internet as basic as access to a library. Technology access also enables students to find and enroll in educational opportunities, such as summer enrichment programs and college scholarship programs, and is increasingly fundamental for participation in college itself. Modern technology tools that enable design, media production, self-expression, research, analysis, communication, collaboration, and computer programming are commonplace in various professions and disciplines, and facility with these tools is an essential part of becoming ready for college and careers. Interacting with digital learning environments that support the development of deeper learning skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and inquiry is also crucial. Furthermore, goals for improved educational achievement and increased participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning and careers will not be reached without the integral use of technology. Certainly, students without access to technology-based environments and opportunities will be tremendously disadvantaged in efforts to organize and plan their intellectual pursuits and achieve in academic endeavors. Consequently, policy makers should not need experimental tests of the effects of broadband Internet access to be convinced it is important. Broadband access today is as integral to education as books and pencils have been in the past. It is part of the basic infrastructure and a prerequisite to full participation in public education. While this fundamental right to technology access for learning is nonnegotiable, it is also just the first step to equitable learning opportunities. We must continue to ask questions about the effectiveness of technology-based learning systems and tools designed to promote academic learning in specific subjects. This brief suggests that the question “Does technology improve
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