Measuring the Impact of Technology on Learning

Another post prompted by a query from a colleague at another school, who was looking for information on how to demonstrate the impact of technology on learning. Below are my thoughts

To measure the impact of anything, benchmarking of pre-defined metrics is critical. Here are two primary areas where I think technology impacts learning, and within which I recommend defining some measurable outcomes to track.

1) Technology can save us time. Are there tools your teachers are using that save them time they can otherwise use on other things? Evidence or examples of this?

2) It can help us learn and do more. For example, it can connect us to others around the world, it can process information in ways we cannot without it, it can engage students, it can allow us to publish easily, to iterate faster, etc.

So we use technology for the purposes above, but then there is also literacy of the technology itself, and a related idea I like to call “technology attitudes.” I think metrics in these areas ā€” e.g. facility with technology, comfort with not knowing, ability to use technology to find and evaluate information, etc. (the so called ICT skills, some of which are attitudinal) ā€” these are also important to measure.

I often like to think of technology today relative to technology of yesterday, especially the introduction of the printing press. If books were the new technology, we would want to measure how books helped improve learning, but we would also measure literacy as part of that, wouldn’t we?

Lastly, I think it is important to be broad in what we are measuring, i.e. if we only measure how many dates in history we can recall, maybe technology is not helping all that much. But we can DO so much more with technology, and since traditional metrics are of what we know, this can lead to a false impression that technology is not helping us learn.

Your thoughts?

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