After reading a few sections of the SETDA report on technology integration, it still seems very subjective on how we can measure the impact of technology integration on academic curriculum. For example, I was reading a report of a school in Arkansas, which mentioned that they achieved academic gains with the integration of technology. According to the report, “teachers fully integrated technology into curriculum and instruction,” and that it contributed to significant increases in scores. On whose authority should we be convinced that this particular school “fully” integrated technology. Where is the accountability? What other factors and variables could have contributed to academic gains?
Maybe there is no way to objectively provide answers to the question, but rather offer a standardized model that all schools could follow. I am still trying to wrap my head around this central question: How much impact does educational technology integration have on academic achievement?
It is transparent how to assess students’ academic growth using technologies such as Edusoft, NWEA, and Accelerated Reader. All these great tools help teachers comprehensively assess their students to help guide their instruction. However, I want to evaluate another aspect of technology assessment that really begs the question: How much impact does educational technology integration have on academic achievement?
After researching this subject, I have found very little information post 2002. The research found is outdated is not relevant with the tools and resources of web 2.0. I sent out a tweet about the subject, but have not heard from anyone regarding the topic. I understand that it is a difficult topic to wrap a concrete answer, however, I believe a topic that needs more attention by educational technology professionals. It may not be cut and dry like an Accelerated Reader program that will tell you a student’s reading level, but rather a model that represents growth in learning skills due to instructional technologies.
Although I have yet to see a model of assessing technology integration and its impact on academic curriculum, I feel at the bare minimum, it should have the following components.
- Measuring student engagement and interest in content area subjects
- Measuring digital literacy
- Finding correlation with schools with successful technology integration and test scores
- Measuring teacher technology growth using websites like EdTech Profile and correlating the growth with student achievement
- Measuring how differentiation using technology correlates to student achievement
- Measuring how technology enrichment projects and assignment correlates to student achievement.
It always brings pride to me when my students produce great work using technology. Equally rewarding is when my teachers learn to use technology and integrate it into their lessons and curriculum. My TEKA program (Technology Education at KIPP Adelante) is a year round technology professional development created to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. The first projects in this year’s program was to produce podcasts for their classroom. I am very excited to share some of the wonderful projects produced by my teachers. Great work!
A subject often left out of curriculum these days is the good old geography lesson. With the many standards focusing on reading comprehension, mathematics, and even scientific knowledge, the genre of geography is not a high priority. In an effort to support the subject, I incorporate U.S. Geography lessons with my 5th graders in Introduction to Computers. Fortunately, there are plenty of interactive websites that help students learn their states. My favorite website that allow my 5th graders to learn their geography is Sheppard Software. It has a comprehensive interactive site that allows my students to memorize the states in varying levels. It can break the states up into its regions and it can also allow students to drag states to the appropriate part of the map. There are a variety of activities and skill sets for all levels of learning. After several classes of practice, many of my students are now experts in their U.S. States. Sheppard Software also covers geography for other continents and geographic landscapes. As a bonus to my lovely 5th graders, I also have them watch the video version of the story, The Scrambled States of America which is available on Discovery Education.
When I was in middle school, one of my projects that I had to make in 8th grade science was to build a simple machines track using pulleys, inclined planes, and wedges. I am teaching simple machines to my 8th grade engineering class and not only am I including K’Nex hands-on projects, but integrating Phun software as part of their design process. The Phun physics program lets students design objects in 2D and lets gravity act upon the objects when an action button is clicked. The students are designing a simple machines track on the program and it has stumped many of my students. They are working very hard redesigning and improving their drawings. My eighth graders are learning quickly that sometimes drawings cannot account for the many issues of real gravity applications. Without a doubt, my students are learning Newton’s Laws of Motion authentically. Who needs books?
As the social web continues to grow and the proliferation of self expression is now a constant, measuring one’s influence is an important feature to include in our user generated content population. According to Klout, they can measure the influence of your topics when people basically reference your work across the web. I am interested to see how this truly works.