[Squeakland] Educational research

Mark Guzdial guzdial at cc.gatech.edu
Thu Nov 22 06:46:12 PST 2007

There=B9s actually a good bit of research indicating that technology in the
classroom, even at the elementary level, makes a difference. =B3The Economi=
just did an on-line debate on this very question (with Bob Kozma, formerly
of SRI and U. Michigan, as supporting the claim of impact), and the
conclusion was that technology in the classroom does make a statistically
significant difference.  The Kulik=B9s did some meta-analyses early on (may=
20 years ago) that demonstrated a small but measurable effect.  The Apple
Classrooms of Tomorrow had a visible effect that Dwyer talks about in his

The problem is that it=B9s impossible to hold all other factors equal.  As =
Hawkins pointed out years ago, the real benefit of technology in the
classroom was enabling new approaches.  I see Viewpoints as having this goal
explicitly =8B the idea isn=B9t to replicate the current approach with
technology, it=B9s to enable a new, deeper approach with kids (and teachers)
doing real science and mathematics.

Now let=B9s suppose that any school takes awhile to get all the kinks worked
out to serve an approach optimally =8B for teachers to understand how to ma=
details work well (like grading and supporting the weaker students), for
parents and kids to change expectations, and for schools to understand how
to work out the larger scale details (like dealing with curricular learning
objective requirements and length of a class period).  If you measure the
approach during this ramp-up period (which almost certainly is over a year
long, from all the teacher adoption literature I=B9ve seen), the new approa=
will look worse than the old approach, on just about any measure you pick
(from teacher/student/parent satisfaction, to performance on standardized
tests =8B which were themselves optimized for the old approach).  Now, throw
in technology on that new approach, and POOF! Technology is clearly not

I don=B9t see OLPC as impacting the critics of educational technology much.
There are too many variables changing at once.  I suspect that we=B9ll see
some impact =8B any investment in education where there is little there to
begin with is going to have at least some short-term impact.  The challenge
will be to sustain.


On 11/21/07 9:03 PM, "Richard Karpinski" <dick at cfcl.com> wrote:

> Sorry I can't cite the papers, but I recall that hardly any computer
> based projects in elementary education had any noticeable beneficial
> effect. This is what I would expect for any normal two or three hours
> per week computer use in school.
> =

> The OLPC project, however gives the kid a computer full time, and she
> has to use it just to read the textbook. Still, that's no pedagogic
> help until you add the camera and the collaboration capabilities.
> Suddenly, the computer is a mere tool to assist with a serious
> activity involving the student and engaging her mind and body. This
> is where I would expect a real effect, not by the presence of a
> computer, per se, but by the research and the process of developing a
> school report. It's the engagement that matters.
> =

> Of course, that's opinion, not science. The experiment is called
> OLPC. The results are still out. And double blind is not an option,
> but real science is. No matter how you try to manage it, there will
> be differences in approach and differences in outcomes. Just look at
> what correlates. Schools do a lot of testing, but how well that
> measures the outcomes in fact remains open to question.
> =

> Incidentally, there was one year when the remote Stanford students
> actually did better than the ones on campus. Naturally they changed
> it immediately. The remote students had these advantages over the on-
> campus students: The VCR delivery of the lectures allowed the remote
> students to back up the tape to catch any missed phrase or whatever,
> and the teaching assistant that arrived with the cassette was happy
> to answer any student question, which could not have been asked in
> the lecture hall.
> =

> If some OLPC teachers can act like the teaching assistants and some
> course material can be provided as videos to be played on student
> laptops, perhaps that Stanford experience could be replicated. Still,
> I'm much more interested in the class project approach.
> =

> Dick
> =

> On 2007, Nov 21, , at 12:00, squeakland-request at squeakland.org wrote:
> =

>> > However, beyond such material, I get thoroughly confused by an
>> > inability to distinguish proven knowledge, accepted wisdom, and pure
>> > pseudo-science.    It seems that a lot of educational research is done
>> > by anecdote rather than by controlled blind large group studies.  Any
>> > pointers to the good stuff?
> =

> =

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