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How technology improves learning in K-12 schools

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An, Y., & Reigeluth, C. (2011). Creating Technology-Enhanced, Learner-Centered Classrooms. Journal Of Digital Learning In Teacher Education, 28(2), 54-62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2011.10784681

According to Jo An and Reigeluth, despite the fact that immense literature discusses the factors that affect the integration of technology, as well as, how to improve professional development efforts, few studies explore issues pertaining to learner-centered technology integration. Based on this understanding, the study conducted by Jo An and Reigeluth explored the perceptions, support needs, beliefs and barriers of K-12 teachers and students in the context of formulating learner-centered and technology-enhanced classrooms. The research utilized an online survey to amass data, with one hundred and twenty-six K-12 teachers participating in the survey.

This article contributes to the research on how technology improves learning in K-12 schools through the findings of the study conducted by Jo An and Reigeluth that provide practical insights into how to espouse teachers in creating learner-centered and technology-enhanced classrooms by focusing on the need  for paradigm change and professional development.

In order for technology integration in K-12 schools to attain positive outcomes, professional development must be a key focus for the schools. Jo An and Reigeluth emphasize this point by outlining various ways through which K-12 schools can achieve professional development such as fortifying the link among pedagogy, technology and content, providing not only extra but also customized learner-centered training for teachers, fostering social networks or communities of practice and helping teachers adopt technology-enhanced teaching methods through vicarious experiences. It is only after promoting professional development that K-12 schools can expand the potential of technology in improving student performance through paradigm change. This article gives assessment, lack of time and technology and time and institutional structure as the top perceived barriers faced by teachers in K-12 in the context of technology-enhanced teaching and learning. By supporting paradigm change through the transformation of school system’s social infrastructure to a participatory organization design, learning and teaching to a paradigm that is attainment based and customized and the relationship between the school system and its environment to a proactive and collaborative stance, K-12 schools can ensure that technology improves learning and student performance.

Cheung, A., & Slavin, R. (2013). The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing mathematics achievement in K-12 classrooms: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 9, 88-113. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2013.01.001

This article assesses the effects of educational technology application on mathematics achievement in K-12 schools. Unlike other studies, the research conducted by Cheung and Slavin applies consistent inclusion standards with the objective of focusing on studies that met high methodological standards. Moreover, the substantive and methodological features of the studies are explored in this research so as to examine the relationship between study features and educational technology applications. In this regard, the research involved an analysis of seventy-four studies. The findings of the research conducted by Cheung and Slavin suggest that educational technology applications generally produced a positive, but modest effect on mathematics achievement in K-12 schools compared to conventional teaching methods. Nonetheless, the effects vary with the type of educational technology.

As a pillar of the STEM docket in education, Mathematics is integral to the overall performance of students in K-12 schools. As such, this article is ideal as it provides valuable insights regarding educational technology and its effect on Mathematics achievement in K-12 classes depending on the type of educational technology in use.

The findings of this review by Cheung and Slavin that indicate that educational technology applications produce a positive but modest impact on Mathematics achievement are consistent with many reviews in this field. Cheung and Slavin are of the opinion that incorporating supplemental educational applications into regular classroom curriculum may be beneficial and helpful in improving student achievement in Mathematics. However, in as much as educational technology is making a modest difference in teaching and learning Mathematics, the authors mention that this is only an aid to Mathematics achievement, but not a breakthrough. Thus, Cheung and Slavin reiterate the need for better tools to harness the power of technology to improve Mathematics achievement in K-12 schools.

Cheung, W., & Hew, K. (2009). A review of research methodologies used in studies on mobile handheld devices in K-12 and higher education settings. Australasian Journal Of Educational Technology, 25(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1148

According to Cheung and Hew, mobile handheld devices are increasingly being utilized in education. In this article, Cheung and Hew performed a review of empirical based articles with the aim of summarizing the research about the use of mobile handheld devices such as mobile phones and palmtops in K-12 schools and other higher educational settings. The authors sought to find out the type of research methods that have been applied in these technological devices, how students and teachers in K-12 schools use mobile handheld devices, as well as, the research topics that have been explored on these handheld devices in education settings.

The reason for selecting this article for purposes of aiding my research is because it delves into a technological and educational niche that is unique to K-12 schools. Mobile handheld devices are the most commonly used type of technology in K-12 schools. Thus, a study that focuses on these devices and their impact on learning and teaching in K-12 schools is extremely vital to my research.

The findings of this research indicate that mobile handheld devices are most commonly utilized by teachers and students as multimedia and communication access tools, that is, for purposes of accessing multimedia academic resources such as databases, PowerPoint presentations, e-books and web pages. Moreover, there is no substantial difference in terms of test scores attained by students between paper and pencil and PDA based assessment methods. Notwithstanding, results of the study conducted by Cheung and Hew evince that the PDA based assessment method is more efficient than paper and pencil method of assessment with regard to time to prepare the test. Overall, Cheung and Hew emphasize that students’ learning in K-12 schools is fostered or improved through the utilization of mobile handheld devices, though such devices may also be a distraction in certain occasions and hinder learning in the process.

Frontline. (2011). An Online Interactive Learning Tool For Frontline’s Digital Nation – 21st Century Schools | Digital Nation | FRONTLINE | PBS. Pbs.org. Retrieved 27 October 2017, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/resources/teachers/

According to the video entitled An Online Interactive Learning Tool For Frontline’s Digital Nation – 21st Century Schools, more and more teachers and students in K-12 schools and other grade levels are tapping into the power of technology and digital media for learning and teaching. By talking about how Google Saved a School, the video shows how students and teachers are utilizing the power of social media to promote students’ critical thinking, active engagement and literacy skills.

This video provides a variety of information resources regarding how technology improves learning in schools such as K-12 schools, for instance, technology and school improvement, new forms of learning, as well as, hype, hope and reality.

Frontline shows how since technology is interactive, visual and social, learning can occur anywhere via digital media as people collude and share about a broad range of issues and topics that matter to them. Therefore, technology transforms schools by fostering creativity and student engagement. However, there is a fear that excessive focus on technology takes attention away from what’s really required to improve schools, that is, student-centered leaning methods, well-trained teachers and smaller class sizes.

Hew, K., & Brush, T. (2006). Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research. Educational Technology Research And Development, 55(3), 223-252. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11423-006-9022-5

According to Hew and Brush, albeit research studies in education indicate that the utilization of technology can aid student learning, the use of such technology is generally affected by certain barriers. In this article, the authors identified the general barricades faced by K-12 schools in the United States, as well as, other countries when integrating technology into the school curriculum for instructional purposes, that is, in institutions, attitude and beliefs, assessment, resources, subject culture and knowledge and skills. Having explored the barriers faced by K-12 schools, Hew and Brush described the strategies they deemed as appropriate for surmounting these barricades, for instance, overcoming the scarcity of resources, fostering professional development, having a common vision and technology integration plan, changing plans and attitudes and restructuring assessments.

While technology is proving to be an integral part of learning and teaching in K-12 schools, its effectiveness in improving student performance and improving overall learning is hindered by certain barriers. As such knowledge gaps emerge as a result of the barriers faced by K-12 schools. It is these barriers that this article explores so as to come up with suitable recommendations for surmounting the barricades, thus, making it ideal for my research.

The manner in which the research is conducted today regarding technology and its role in improving learning and teaching in K-12 schools focuses mainly on the students and teachers and what happens in the classrooms. Hew and Brush are of the opinion that knowledge gaps that result from such kind of research can be avoided by having a holistic view of the impact of technology in learning and teaching in K-12 schools. They reiterate the need for scholars to go beyond the classrooms level to higher levels such as school districts so as to unlock the full potential of technology and gain a broader understanding of the impact of technology on learning and teaching in K-12 schools.

Inan, F., & Lowther, D. (2009). Factors affecting technology integration in K-12 classrooms: a path model. Educational Technology Research And Development, 58(2), 137-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11423-009-9132-y

The purpose of this study conducted by Inan and Lowther was to explore the direct and indirect impacts of the individual perceptions and characteristics of teachers with regard to environmental factors that influence technology integration in the classroom. The authors developed a research-based model to expound on the causal relationships between these environmental factors and tested the model based on data collected from one thousand three hundred and eighty-two Tennessee public school teachers. The results of the study indicated that the developed model is useful in explaining factors that affect the integration of technology in schools, as well as, the relationship between these factors. Some of the factors that Inan and Lowther found to have an effect on the integration of technology in K-12 classrooms include teachers’ beliefs, computer proficiency of teachers and students, teachers’ readiness and the types of educational technology applications.

In as much as integration of technology in K-12 schools faces certain barriers, there are factors affecting technology integration that are not necessarily barricades. These factors are mostly connected to teachers, students and the school systems and curriculum. Inan and Lowther address such factors in this article, thus, making it ideal for my research on how technology integration improves learning and student performance in K-12 schools.

The study conducted by Inan and Lowther found that the demographic characteristics of teachers such as age and years of teaching negatively affect their computer proficiency. Moreover, the readiness and beliefs of teachers positively influence their technology integration and school-level factors such as technical support and availability of computers positively influenced teachers’ readiness and teachers’ beliefs. Based on this understanding, to realize the payoff of technology investments in K-12 schools, Inan and Lowther emphasize the point that the factors mentioned above should be carefully contemplated and addressed in education initiatives and policies. This means that K-12 schools should go beyond placing more computers in K-12 classrooms and formulate supportive structures with collaborative learning communities.

Lips, D. (2010). How Online Learning Is Revolutionizing K-12 Education and Benefiting Students. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 27 October 2017, from http://www.heritage.org/technology/report/how-online-learning-revolutionizing-k-12-education-and-benefiting-students

According to Lips, online or virtual is revolutionizing American education. This is because online education has the potential to dramatically broaden the educational opportunities of American students, largely surmounting the demographic and geographic restrictions. Moreover, virtual learning has the potential to enhance the quality of instructions in schools while improving productivity and lowering costs, thus, ultimately decreasing the burden on taxpayers. Lips is the opinion that state, local and federal policymakers should reform funding and education policies to facilitate online learning, especially by allowing funding to follow students to their preferred institutions of learning.

This article contributes to my research by evincing how online learning is revolutionizing K-12 education and benefiting students.

The learning benefits and opportunities attributed to online or virtual learning include mass optimizations and customization, improved flexibility for teachers, innovation, increased access to high-quality teachers, increased flexibility and improved efficiency and productivity. Thus, improvement in student performance and engagement in K-12 schools is credited in part to the increased utilization of online or virtual learning.

Picciano, A., Seaman, J., Shea, P., & Swan, K. (2012). Examining the extent and nature of online learning in American K-12 Education: The research initiatives of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Internet And Higher Education, 15(2), 127-135. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.07.004

This article begins by highlighting the Anytime, Anyplace Learning Program started by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation  in 1992 with the aim of exploring educational alternative for individuals who wanted to pursue education through the Internet. Part of this program was dedicated to examining online learning in K-12 schools in the United States. According to Picciano, Seaman, Shea and Swan, three studies were conducted based on national surveys of high school administrators and school district. The studies focused on assessing the nature and extent of online learning in K-12 school districts, as well as, examining the role of online learning in high school reform initiatives. It is the findings of these studies that Picciano, Seaman, Shea and Swan address in this article so as to provide an informed perspective of the future of online learning in K-12 schools in the United States.

While many studies focus on the current state of technology integration in K-12 schools and provide recommendations for future studies, few research papers examine the future of technology use and its impact on learning and teaching in K-12 schools. In this regard, this article is not only salient to my research but also insightful as it focuses on the future of online learning in K-12 schools.

According to Picciano, Seaman, Shea and Swan, online and blended learning are vital components of high school reform efforts, particularly with regard to credit recovery, improving graduation rates, differentiating instruction, building connections for students for their future college careers and supporting cost-efficiency for instruction. Nonetheless, while K-12 schools depend on online and blended learning for many of their school programs, concerns remain teachers and students. Picciano, Seaman, Shea and Swan emphasize the need for establishment and revision of state and local policies for attendance requirements, funding and other issues related to online instruction so as to attain positive outcomes from online and blended learning in K-12 schools.

Polly, D., Mims, C., Shepherd, C., & Inan, F. (2010). Evidence of impact: Transforming teacher education with preparing tomorrow’s teachers to teach with technology (PT3) grants. Teaching And Teacher Education, 26(4), 863-870. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2009.10.024

According to this article by Polly, Mims, Shepherd and Ian, there is widespread contention that technology use in schools can improve student learning. Initially, numerous teacher education programs attempted to develop pre-service educators’ technology integration skills via an introductory course in educational technology. As such, almost all pre-service teachers take an educational technology course to improve their technological skills with the aim of fostering productivity in the form of PowerPoint presentations, grade books, newsletters and seating charts. In this regard, Polly, Mims, Shepherd and Ian utilized the platform of technological pedagogical content knowledge to assess findings across different projects from the United States Department of Education’s Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) initiative. Some of the approaches that the authors associated with increases in the technological knowledge of pre-service teachers and their frequency of technological-sufficient instruction during field experiences include formulating technology-rich instructional materials and mentoring methods course faculty.

The reason for selecting this article as part of the source material for my research is because it explores the findings of projects related to the use of technology in schools that seek to give viable solutions to improving the technological knowledge of teachers.

The approaches presented in the paper such as the development of curricula materials, individualized mentorship and formulating technology-rich field experiences are indeed relevant to my study as they relate directly to greater technological skills and knowledge which are vital to learning and teaching science in schools. Barricades such as the lack of alignment between schools and teacher technological education programs, as well as, insufficient administrative support are also vital to addressing the challenges that face the use of technology to teach and learn science in K-12 schools.