With a great deal of investment being put into outfitting schools with technology, the question of whether or not it is worth the investment is a valid one. This essay describes the benefits of utilizing technology in education by examining research from around the world which demonstrates that there is ample evidence for supporting the usage of technology in educational environments. Recommendations for further research are made at the conclusion.
Boise State University
July 26, 2009
Benefits to the Integration Technology in K-12 Education
The benefits of technology in education have been lauded for many years, from Thomas Edison’s 1910 proclamation that film would transform education, making books obsolete (Israel, 1998, p. 442) to the most recent phenomenon of using the Internet for instructional purposes. Large sums of money have been spent over the years on the researching and investment of new technologies for education, such as the 170 million dollars spent in the 1950’s on testing the use of television for educational purposes by the Ford Foundation, to the more recent investments in computer and networking infrastructure in schools which saw forty billion dollars spent in the decade leading up to 2003 alone. With so much promised and invested, the question begs as to what the benefits of using technology in education are, if indeed, they exist at all. This paper addresses that question by describing several of the benefits that technology brings to education including improvement in student achievement on tests, the benefits for students who have special needs and who are at-risk, improved attitudes towards learning, individualized learning, and the role of technology in acting as a catalyst for change in school pedagogy.
Technology Improves Student Achievement on Tests
There is mounting evidence that technology improves student achievement on tests in both core subject areas as well as overall GPA. One of the major areas in which greater achievement has been seen is in math. The Moore Independent School District in Oklahoma used a Cognitive Tutor computer based curriculum in 5 junior high schools and found that students who learned using the cognitive tutor curriculum outscored students who were enrolled in a traditional Algebra curriculum on the ETS Algebra I End-of-Course test (Morgan, 2002). They also found that the results held for students of both sexes and all ethnicities represented in the data (Morgan, 2002). Similar results were found at the high school level in Pittsburgh, Iowa where the Pittsburgh Urban Mathematics Project (PUMP), an algebra curriculum that combinesa constructivist approach in studying real world situations and the use of computer tools, was implemented. They found that there was a 15% improvement on the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test, which was significantly higher than the comparison group (Koedinger, 1997). They further concluded that students who were in the PUMP program did so “at no expense to basic skills objectives of standardized tests” (Koedinger, 1997). Better achievement on standardized tests were also found in another study done at a large high school in the western United States which found that students who learned geometry using computers utilizing a constructivist approach had made stronger gains in knowledge of geometry concepts than students in a control group using traditional methods (Funkhouser, Winter 2002/2003). Evidence that computers in education lead to improved achievement is not only found in the subject of mathematics. The Harvest Park Middle School, located in the Pleasanton Unified School Districtin Pleasanton, California, which established a one-to-one laptop program in 2001, found that students who participated in the program tended to get “significantly higher test scores and grades for writing, English-language...