Thursday, December 19, 2013

Questions About Technology

I was party to an email exchange yesterday about the use of technology in classrooms.  One could say that there was a split between those who desired for greater access and general skepticism about increasing access in the classroom. At one point during the exchange it was questioned as to whether students benefit from accessing technology and that there is a lack of convincing research on how technology enhances the educational setting.

As someone who believes in supporting connected classrooms, I was a little taken back by those who still have concerns about providing students across the K-12 spectrum access to connected devices.  Beyond the initial disbelief I started to reflect on the concern raised about reliable research.  For one, I think there are plenty of case studies detailing how students in technology rich classrooms perform better on standardized measurements.  Say what you want about the Common Core but at least there is a significant recognition of the need to graduate students who are technologically literate.

I always viewed technology as a hard to define instructional intangible.  I never believed examining test scores was the best way to evaluate the use of technology.  A true measurement of technology is captured in anecdotal data.  It's about archiving insights shared by students and teachers and reflecting on what classroom stakeholders have to say about learning in a connected environment.  Additionally, it's about the products students exhibit.  In a video about High Tech High School, CEO of schools Larry Rosenstock shares that the quality of work produced by students is a way to measure teacher effectiveness.  I agree with this statement and think it can also apply to the integration of technology.  Are students proudly presenting products of sustaining value?  If so, how did they go about constructing a final product?

For me, posing some the questions above, talking with teachers and students, and deconstructing finished pieces appears to be the research we want to collect.