Preparation, Training Key to Exploiting Education Technology

Personal digital devices like tablets and laptops work better in the classroom when used along with an interactive whiteboard, finds a recent study by Filigree Consulting — and that purposeful planning and preparation went a long way toward improving academic outcomes using education technology.

Researchers looked at the practices of over 300 educators from around the world and found that when each student was equipped with a personal-use device, equipping teachers with an interactive whiteboard resulted in a more efficient academic environment since it allowed for rapid switching between whole-class assignments, individual work and small-group instruction.

Additionally, the researchers found that teachers who were effectively trained, used high-quality digital content, and had a well-developed best practices guide extracted more value out of instructional technology than their less-prepared peers.

According to the study results, 70 percent of the educators who had a high-level of collaborative learning adoption combined with best practices reported receiving above average returns on their technology investment, including gains in student achievement. By contrast, nearly half of the educators who had implemented instructional technology without a developed strategy reported below average returns.

While collecting data for the report, authors looked at administrators, teachers and IT professionals from United Kingdom, North America, Europe, India and Asia at various grade levels and school/district sizes. The conclusions have been published in a white paper titled Instructional Technology and Collaborative Learning Best Practices: Global Report and Recommendations.

 It concludes that while the best value from technology adoption comes from those who implement a variety of instructional technology tools and focus on best practices, only 20 percent of those surveyed had achieved this level of maturity.

Those who followed the recommended approach achieved results nearly three times better than those who did not. In particular, schools noticed improvements in areas of testing and implementation of new teaching models, student achievement, student engagement which included the reduction in truancy rates and discipline referrals, teacher recruitment and retention, instructor effectiveness, and improved student experience.

"It takes more than technology to transform classrooms into collaborative learning environments," says Jeff Lowe, Vice President, Marketing, SMART Technologies. "This research clearly shows that a comprehensive instructional technology solution, supported by a strategy that includes professional development, digital content and a strong implementation plan delivers the greatest value from technology and enables improved student outcomes."

Based on the results of the survey, Filigree created an assessment tool to allow teachers and administrators to better judge if they're getting the most of their technology spending. Furthermore, the tool will guide educators to the steps they need to take to progress to the next level of implementation maturity. The tool is made up of an online survey that any member of the organization can complete. Using the data, the website will show how the technology infrastructure at the school compares to accepted best practices.

08 20, 2012
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