Sunday, February 13, 2011

Best Practice for Tech Success

This afternoon I've been looking at the current issue of Education Week which is reviewing the Project RED (Revolutionizing EDucation) report on best practices for implementing technology in order to improve student achievement.  As we all know, having computers does not necessarily lead to improved achievement, the way they are used is what is important.  The report identifies 9 factors that link technology with educational success (ranked in order of importance):

1. Intervention classes: Technology is integrated into every intervention class.  
2. Change management leadership by principal: Leaders provide time for teacher professional learning and collaboration at least monthly.
3. Online collaboration: Students use technology daily for online collaboration (games/simulations and social media.) 
4. Core subjects: Technology is integrated into core curriculum weekly or more frequently. 
5. Online formative assessments: Assessments are done at least weekly. 
6. Student/computer ratio: Lower ratios improve outcomes. 
7. Virtual field trips: With at least monthly use, virtual trips are more powerful. 
8. Search engines: Students use daily. 
9. Principal training: Principals are trained in teacher buy-in, best practices, and technology-transformed learning.

Last year I was at a meeting where parents asked about how a 1:1 programme could impact on student learning - at the time we did not have the "hard facts" to share with the parents.  This report, based on 1,000 schools throughout the USA, shows that 1:1 schools that implement all the 9 factors outperform all other schools. However what the report also shows is that very few schools implement technology properly despite massive investments in hardware and infrastructure.

Another key finding of the report is that properly implemented technology saves money - for example in paperwork and copying costs as students switch to working online.

The report highlights impact of a good principal.  All schools benefit from properly implemented technology, with more benefits in the 1:1 schools, and when principals receive specialized training the benefits increase even more.  The report also shows that technology enables a student-centric approach with students working at their own pace and teachers able to spend more time with individual students and small groups.

Online collaboration improves student engagement and learning.  The report states:

Web 2.0 social media substantially enhance collaboration productivity, erasing the barriers of time, distance, and money.
Collaboration can now extend beyond the immediate circle of friends to include mentors, tutors, and experts worldwide.
Real-time collaboration increases student engagement, one of the critical factors for student success.
One result of increased engagement and buy-in is a reduction in disciplinary actions.
Online discussion boards and tutoring programs can extend the school day and connectivity among learners and teachers.

Photo Credit:  Marinos Ices Mixture by Stephen Zacharias 

1 comment:

  1. The central theme in all of these factors: technology is an integral part of learning, not a separate "event".