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Integrating Technology with Student Learning

This report provides an overview of policy and the research that informs how technology can be integrated into student-centered learning strategies.
Author(s): 
B. Moeller
T. Reitzes
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
Education Development Center, Inc.
Published: 
2011
Resource Type: 
Research
Number of Pages: 
77
Abstract: 

The authors describe: 1) student-centered learning; 2) teachers’ assessment and data collection that informs classroom teaching, content, and activities; 3) strategies for building these kinds of activities into classroom settings. The authors offer examples of technology that can assist in developing student learning; elaborate on technologies that can help assess or develop programs; and technologies or existing programs that students or teachers can use to enhance learning experiences. Lack of practitioner knowledge or comfort with technology has been found to be a barrier to using technology in the classroom whether to support teaching or augment student learning. To help overcome this barrier, the authors include information on specific software and programs that educate teachers about technology. The report concludes with implications for practice with a list of questions to help guide decision-making about technology implementation.

What the Experts Say: 

This resource focuses on issues relating to digital literacy in middle and high schools, but the message regarding the importance of digital literacy in the 21st century is one that can apply to adult education. Additionally the emphasis on the potential of technology integration in student-centered learning and reform is also applicable and valuable for adult educators.

The resource addresses benefits of and obstacles to technology integration applicable to adult education. It will also be useful for its discussion of and questions about implications for practice, policy, and research, especially in terms of administrative long-term planning for technology integration. It takes up issues such as the actual use of technology, pedagogy, and faculty development and infrastructure. Two valuable aspects of this resource are its emphasis on the importance of research in making informed decisions about policy and practice, and of the alignment of technology integration with its effective use in a policy vision.

Useful features of this resource:

  1. The emphasis on transition to post-secondary instruction and employment mirrors the current OVAE emphasis for ABE/GED/ESL programs;
  2. The focus on higher level thinking skills with examples and teaching ideas is useful;
  3. Many of the concepts and approaches align with those held in adult education:
    • A focus on active learning with useful illustrations;
    • The teacher as coach, advisor, and facilitator;
    • Personalized learning delivered using technology;
    • Self-directed and project-based learning;
  4. Some of the research cited has implications for teaching adults:
    • Use of computers for writing activities increases scores on tests, but use of computers for grammar and punctuation drills does not;
    • Many of the assessment systems designed to support mandated standards lack the capacity to inform instructional decisions;
    • Hybrid or blended learning tends to be the preferred method of teaching and learning, not all on-line or face-to-face delivery;
  5. Need for ongoing professional development for teachers to understand the effective use of technology in the subjects they teach;
  6. Community and business partnerships demonstrate how these align with adult education’s emphasis on workforce literacy and employment preparation;
  7. Guidance for professionals’ use of computers to conduct experiments and organize information is included;
  8. Case studies and examples of technology use for project based learning, community based learning, entrepreneurship, and STEM may generate ideas for adult education programs;
  9. Inclusion of a rich reference list and web sites offer additional useful resources, and an appendix that describes the research design and the key findings.

Drawbacks of the resource when using for adult education setting:

  1. The focus on K-12 means that many suggestions are applicable only to larger scale systems that have the resources to invest time and money.
  2. Some recommendations may not be feasible in part-time adult education programs. Semester long projects or internships, for example, may only be possible in the context of daily, in-depth classroom instruction. Intensive, detailed, and frequent diagnostic assessments of learning progress or an investment in large-scale technology based assessment systems or labs also may not be possible.
  3. Some suggestions, such as college application procedures, are more useful for college ready high school seniors than at-risk or limited English learners.
  4. Some suggestions on synchronous and asynchronous online learning are outdated.
  5. Heavy stress on games and gaming may not always be appropriate for adults.
  6. Most practitioners do not have control over large scale program and policy changes that take time to implement and are undertaken at a higher level.
Methods the resource used to collect and analyze the data for the research: The authors investigated technical and policy reports, and research literature to understand how technology might support student-centered learning. They also drew on experts in the field for their professional wisdom and conducted interviews with educators at schools. A drawback, as a research-based resource, is the lack of information on methodology, research questions and data analysis.
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