Technology and Education Research - Essay Example

Along with spending money, there goes the issue of schools within the same districts not having the same genealogical advances. Finally, recent studies are showing a big change in curriculum by incorporating e-learning classes to brick-and-mortar style education. Introduction What do you see when you go into a typical 4th grade classroom today? Typically, every student has their own pad that they use everyday and even take home with them. Watching them throughout the day you will see that the tablets are used in every subject from history, science and even spelling.

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But how long are these pads going to last in our education systems? New technology is growing-?and it’s growing fast. Technology is constantly changing and changing very quickly. It is creating both opportunities and challenges for schools. The opportunities include better access to rich multimedia content, the increasing use of online courses, and expanding the role of social networking tools for learning. At the same time, the pace of change creates major challenges for schools.

To begin with, schools are constantly playing technological catch up as digital improvements emerge that require upgrading schools’ technological infrastructure and building new professional development programs. Some schools have been proficient at keeping up with those changes, hill many others are falling far behind; creating a digital divide based largely on the quality of educational technology, rather than Just simple access to the Internet like it used to be.

The evolution of educational technologies is so fast it also makes it increasingly challenging to determine what works best. Longitudinal research that takes years to do risks being irrelevant by the time it is completed because of shifts in the technological scene. The pad, for instance, became popular in schools soon after it was released and well before any research could be conducted about its educational effectiveness. Following is a look at some of the hottest issues and trends in educational technology and how they are creating opportunities and challenges for K-12 schools.

Research on Technology Use in the Classroom While there is much on-going research on new technologies and their effects on teaching and learning, there is little rigorous, large-scale data that makes for solid research. The very companies and institutions that have created and promoted the technology fund the vast majority of the studies available, raising questions of the research’s validity and objectivity. In addition, the kinds of studies that produce meaningful data often take several years to complete-?a timeline that lags far behind the fast pace of up-and-coming technologies.

For example, it is difficult to locate empirical data to support the case for mobile learning in schools-?a trend that educators have been exploring for several years now-?let alone data to support even newer technologies such as tablet computers like the pad (Ash, Feb.. 2011). The studies that do look at the effects of mobile technologies on learning are often based on small samples of students involved in short-term pilots, not the kind of large-scale, ongoing samples of students that educators and policymakers would like to see (Ash, Feb.. 2011).

However, there are a handful of large-scale studies that do point to trends and observations in the education technology field. For example, Project RED, a research initiative linked closely with the One-to-One Institute, which supports one- to-one laptop initiatives in K-12 schools, released a study about successfully applying models of education technology in October 2010 (Project RED, 2010). That study found that most of the schools that have integrated laptops and other digital tools into earning are not maximizing the use of those devices in ways that best make use of their potential.

The report goes on to outline the critical steps needed to capitalize on that potential (Project RED, 2010). A meta-analysis of more than a thousand studies regarding online learning was released by the U. S. Department of Education in 2009, followed by a revised version of the report in September 2010. That study concluded that students in online-only instruction performed modestly better than their face-to- face counterparts, and that students in classes that blended both face-to-face and inline elements performed better than those in solely online or face-to-face teaching (US Dept. F Education 2010). However, the researchers cautioned that the vast majority of the studies in the meta-analysis were from students in higher education, and as a result, the conclusions drawn may not be applicable to K-12 education. In fact, a major finding of the meta-study was the severe lack of rigorous research studies regarding online learning in K-12 (U. S. Department of Education, 2010). The Speak Up survey, which is conducted annually by Project Tomorrow (a nonprofit research organization) and Blackboard, Inc. Revered nearly 300,000 students, parents, teachers, and other educators about their views on technology in education. Findings from the 2010 survey showed an increased interest from educators in mobile learning, as well as an increase in the number of students who own mobile devices such as smartness, no matter what economic or demographic differences there were (Project Tomorrow, 2011). The survey also found an increased interest in online learning and blended learning opportunities, as well as electronic textbooks (Project Tomorrow, 2011).

Electronic textbooks have a way of bridging the gap twine old fashioned printed books and the up-and-coming technology being used in schools and curriculums. While these studies represent some of the more large- scale research conducted in this field, education advocates stress the need for a wider range of well-researched, longitudinal, and ethically sound data on education technology. E-Learning Online learning in many forms is on the rise in schools of all types across the country. Students in many parts of the country now have a long list of choices when it comes to e-learning.

The menu of options often includes full-time, for-profit virtual schools; state-sponsored virtual schools; supplemental online learning courses offered by “brick-and-mortar” schools; and charter schools presenting a hybrid option of digital material along with face-to-face instruction. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or niacin, estimates that more than 1. 5 million K-12 students were engaged in some form of online or blended learning in the 2009-10 school year (Wicks, 2010). At the end of 2010, supplemental or full-time online learning opportunities were available in at least 48 of 50 states, plus the District of

Columbia (Wicks, 2010). Options for full-time virtual schools are growing. Students from kindergarten through high school can seek out online schooling opportunities, which usually include virtual teachers and a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online learning (Davis, June 1 5, 2011). These schools are starting to focus more on the issue of colonization for their students and some are incorporating more face-to-face instruction into their array of services to allow for student interaction both online and in person. They’re forming clubs, holding proms, and creating school newspapers.

At the end of 2010, 27 states plus the District of Columbia had full-time online schools serving students statewide, according to niacin’s report, “A National Primer on K-12 Online Learning” (Wicks, 2010). But full- time virtual schools also face the reality that for many students with two parents working outside the home such a scenario is not an option. These students many times cannot tap into full-time online schools for that reason, and virtual school providers acknowledge that their version of education works best, particularly in the lower grades, when an adult is present to assist (Wicks, 2010).

In addition to courses that offer an online instructor, some researchers say students have had the most success with hybrid or blended education. That can mean that students use digital content with a face-to-face instructor, or an online instructor and an in-class teacher may work together to assist students. Hybrid charter schools, which use mostly digital curriculum with face-to-face support and instruction-?sometimes even combined with an online teacher-?are becoming more popular in K-12. At the same time, a growing number of students now have access to online courses in their brick-and- rotor schools.

Schools are tapping into e-learning for a variety of reasons. Some schools say it saves money and allows them to offer a wider variety of courses, including Advanced Placement classes. Others say it can help with scheduling conflicts when a face-to-face class is provided only at a time when a student already has another obligation. In addition, online courses can provide highly qualified teachers for classes otherwise not offered by a school. One of the fastest growing areas of e-learning, and a category that mainstream schools are increasingly turning o, is credit recovery.

These online courses allow students to retake classes they haven’t passed, but in a new and different format (Davis, April 28, 2010). Many of these credit recovery courses give students a brief evaluation, then permit them to skip concepts they already know to focus on ideas they haven’t yet grasped (Davis, April 28, 2010). However, some educators and education experts have questioned the quality and academic rigor of these programs (Davis, April 28, 2010). So where are traditional schools getting these online courses?

Some are developing their own, there are purchasing them from for-profit vendors and a growing number are able to tap into state virtual schools or state-led online learning initiatives that currently exist in 38 states; some schools find it easier to use courses developed by a state-run virtual school, since it is already aligned with their state standards (Davis, April 28, 2010). Technology Infrastructure Schools and districts continue to battle to keep pace with the always-increasing demands to upgrade their technological infrastructure.

But the demands themselves have changed during the past decade, from a focus on simply gaining connectivity to ending enough bandwidth to run more complex applications in classrooms such as, for example, streaming audio and video. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 97 percent of schools across the country had Internet connectivity as of 2010 (Fiske, 2010). Far fewer, however, were able to successfully meet the need for higher speed access, the FCC said, citing that demand as one reason it unveiled its National Broadband Plan-?a plan to improve Internet access in the United States-?in March 2010 (Fiske, 2010).

In October of the same year, it also revised the E-Rate-?the federal program that besides school purchases for Internet connectivity-?allowing schools to use E-Rate dollars to gain connectivity by using advanced technology (Fiske, 2010). The stated theory behind the reform was that by allowing more options for connectivity, schools could in theory gain more consumed data while at the same time drive down cost; because increasing the speed of fiber networks generally involves a one-time upgrade rather than periodic expenses to secure more data by the use of other connections (Fiske, 2010).

Yet even before all this action had a chance to take effect, it seemed as though mom schools were already making progress meeting facility demands on their own. For example, data released in the spring of 2011 as part of the ongoing Speak Up research by Project Tomorrow found that restrictive Internet filtering was the top student complaint about Web use in 2010 (Project Tomorrow, 2011). Five years earlier, the chief complaint was connectivity speed (Project Tomorrow, 2011).

And unreliable evidence suggests more schools are providing, or at least considering providing, high-speed wireless networks on their campuses, and end up obtaining savings in mom cases by allowing students who own their own laptops, notebook, or mobile phones to use those devices rather than purchase new school hardware (Fiske, 2010). But because technology infrastructure needs vary widely between districts, and even between schools within the same districts, the federal government’s perceived desire to focus its efforts as a facilitator of infrastructure access has become somewhat controversial among education technology advocates.

This was especially evident when it became clear that the Enhancing Education Through Technology, or TEETH, program, was in Jeopardy (Aquiline, April 2011). The program, which was initially funded at $700 million annually but had dropped to $100 million by 2010, was the only federal program within the U. S. Department of Education’s general funding devoted specifically to education technology; it was defended as part of a federal budget compromise in the spring of 2011 (Aquiline, April 2011).

In an attempt to remedy this problem, in an interview after his appearance at the Consortium for School Networking annual conference in New Orleans in March of 2011, White House Chief Technology Officer Enmesh Copra duplicated the stance of President Beam’s administration and the U. S. Department of Education beneath it; that being facilitators of technology access was the best, and perhaps most practical goal of the federal government in lean economic times (Ash, March 2011).

By contrast, organizations such as the Consortium for School Networking, the State Educational Technology Directors Association, and the International Society for Technology in Education, united on several occasions to voice their stance that investment in access and infrastructure was wasted without support for programs like TEETH, which was signed to direct up to 40 percent of its funds toward professional expansion needs (CNN, 2011). Huge differences in technology infrastructure remain among schools in the United States.

And while chief technology officers generally say that school infrastructure is improving, many openly doubt that capability will catch up with demand, since new digital tools used in education are requiring ever increasing amounts of data. Social Networking Many schools are no longer debating whether social networking should play a role in education. Instead, that debate has shifted to what social networking tools work best ND how to organize them (Davis, June 16, 2010).

Some schools are using mainstream social networking tools, like Faceable, for everything from promoting school events to organizing school clubs as well as for more academic purposes related to assignments and class projects. But educators wary about security, advertising, information-sharing, and social interaction in such an environment are often seeking out social networks designed specifically for learning instead (Davis, June 16, 2010).

These sites, like peals and chalk, are more restrictive, often allowing teachers and school officials to limit not only who can Join, but who students can talk to and interact with (Davis, June 16, 2010). Some educators also say students seem to take these sites more seriously and treat them with a more academic focus and tone than they would a site they routinely use for colonization with their peers; these sites also often provide safety features that can detect foul language or bullying phrases and alert a teacher (Davis, June 16, 2010).

Many educators say the academic benefits of social networking are real. They allow students to work cooperatively on projects in n online environment that feels familiar to students. Teachers often report that a student who does not speak up in class will be more engaged on a social networking site and that these sites allow instructors to extend the school day (Davis, June 16, 2010). Educators have also taken to social networks for professional development.

The social networking site Inning, for example, has a plethora of group sites organized around teaching a particular subject, like English literature or high school biology; in addition, Twitter has become a force in the professional development arena, with treasures such as Educate, weekly one-hour conversations that take place around pre- arranged educational topics (Davis, June 16, 2010). Web 2. And other technology tools are making it quicker and easier than ever to create digital portfolios of student work-?a method of showcasing student progress that experts say increases student engagement; promotes a continuing conversation about learning between teachers, parents, and students; and extends academic lessons beyond school walls (Davis, March 17, 2011). New social networking tools to aid this are being developed and updated regularly. Wise and blobs allow students to work collaboratively and share their work with a limited or unlimited number of people.

The video phone service Seep is also popular with teachers, particularly for allowing their students to connect with peers in other parts of the country or the world (Davis, March 17, 2011). Other tools, like Vociferated, which archives and indexes images, videos, text and audio, are popular with all ages of students, including at the elementary level (Davis, June 16, 2010). Conclusion After completed this extensive research, I can now conclude that the education yester of America is trying an extremely large amount to incorporate technologies of all sorts to provide for students across the country.