I need research to squelch the naysayers who keep saying that it's all just a fad!

I keep hearing from my colleagues that unless there is proof that the technology works, they are not interested in using it. I know that this is a group of innovators. What's out there that might convince the other educators?

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This may be a bit more technical than you were looking for, but check out this site from Colorado Univ about why to take Computer Science classes. It talks about the advantages to our students for having as much technical knowhow as possible. How technical skills are used in just about any career, and those that have them are more employable.

Could you check the link? It's telling me that the page does cannot be found. Thanks!
Here's a direct paste: http://www.cs.colorado.edu/why/ . Sorry for the typo
I think what you are refering to is the no significant difference phenomenon. Basically this is the view that quantitative research has shown that in tests of effectiveness between traditional methods of teaching and teaching using technology there is no significant difference in students learning. Is this the best way to test the effectiveness of e- learning? This article may be helpful as you relect on this http://www.aln.org/publications/jaln/v4n1/v4n1_joygarcia.asp.
Thanks! One thing that stands out to me right away is the date of the research, which is pre-web 2.0. I'll delve into it more deeply this weekend.
I know of Project Live from Escondido Unified collecting data...I link to it here: http://www.needleworkspictures.com/ocr/blog/?p=220 Scroll down to is there any evidence of this?
Thank you Mathew!
Ask for the research that shows that classrooms work. Make the statement "I'm not going to use the whiteboard until I see some proof that it works!"

Remember that spoken language is a technology. Can we get some research that shows that talking to students is not just a fad?

If we required the same level of "research based practice" to support the use of technologies like textbooks, black/white/green boards, desks, chairs, lights, heating, and even classrooms, we'd begin to see the silliness for what it is.
Ooof! Now why didn't I think of that obvious and clever response? Unfortunately, however, the whiteboards are already paid for. SmartBoards are going to cost $$$$.

My contention, like your response, is that any tool which makes the delivery and interaction of instruction more accessible and dynamic is going to improve student achievement. For whatever reason, I keep thinking about Howard Gardner's work with multiple intelligences. One teacher in another school mentioned that Marzano's work would suggest that technology would improve student achievement. Which gets me thinking about Brian Cambourne, Paulo Friere, and just about any other great educational theorist of our time. The more I think about it, the more I find that I can interpret a use for technology into any of the theories.

I guess what I am looking for is "meat & potatoes" research with hard data numbers, for the people I am trying to convince are numbers people who won't be convinced until there is narrow, specific data that answers the question, "Does using SmartBoards in the classroom improve student achievement?"

Perhaps I ought to go to the company who makes them...
Sorry. That wasn't meant to be a smarty-pants comment.

Using *anything* in a classroom will not improve student achievement simpy by the fact of its use. The question is missing a critical evaluator that has to do with how the tool is used. Substitute "textbook" for "SmartBoard" ... and ask the question again.

"Does using textbooks in the classroom improve student achievement?"

The answer is "Maybe."

One thing we should have learned by now is that simple presence - and even mandated use - cannot result in improved achievement without an awareness of how the tool might be used, the skill level of the teacher, the time frames in which it might be applied, and the suitability to the task. While I'm sure you are thinking all those things while you're asking the question, the reality is that most of these cannot be answered in advance.

I know a lot of teachers who swear by their SmartBoards. But I think they succeed with them because the tools have become part of their general toolbox. For every successful teacher - one who has taken the technology and adapted/adopted it for their own use - I'm willing to bet that there's at least two who haven't taken the extra step to make the SmartBoard anything more than an expensive projection screen. The critical factor isn't the technology -- it's the teacher.

You said:
"[A]ny tool which makes the delivery and interaction of instruction more accessible and dynamic is going to improve student achievement"

I would contend that this is only true to the degree which the teacher is able to change the way they teach in order to accommodate the additional interaction.

I'm not saying SmartBoards are bad. Or good. Or useful. Or anything.

I'm saying that these kinds of questions - which are being asked all over the place by people who are trying to be responsible with the public's money - cannot be answered in any meaningful and objective manner.

I'm sure the company that makes them will have plenty of data to support your spending money on their products. There's a logical flaw in believing it, but it would be an answer in keeping with the validity of the question.
The problem is always that the person in front of the room makes the biggest difference to the learning in that room. I would argue that PURCHASING technology does not increase student achievement it's all about how that technology in integrated in the classroom. Conversely, there are many wonderful teachers who don't use technology at all.

My concern, however, is that low-income students may not get access to technology if they are not exposed to it in schools and so they are not gaining important job skills. It's really difficult to measure that though.
You probably need to drill down a bit on what you mean by "technology" - research on e-learning is not going to give you the same picture as research on drill software, or open ended tools.

If you are looking at technology such as using specific hardware, like active whiteboards, the vendors might be a good source - they will often have little sections on their websites with supportive research. Of course, you always have to be careful that the research is independent, not just customer surveys.

Another place to look is CARET (Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology).

The terrific ERIC database of all government funded educational research was closed by the feds in 2003. However, pieces of it are still available at The Educator's Reference Desk (this link is directly into the section on Ed Tech.)

They have saved some the ASKEric questions and answers, like this one "What are the benefits of educational technology" - and the answer contains links to a number of research studies that might be of interest to you. Some are just abstracts of studies, some are links. Sometimes it's just a pointer that can help refine a Google search. Like you will find lots of things that MCREL or the Milken Foundation did, but if you have the specific title of the study, you can easily find it on Google or those sites.

But I think that narrowing down your search to support specific uses of technology will result in a lot more significant things that will convince your colleagues.

However, I do agree with nlowell on the point that many times asking for research is just a stall. No one asks for research for things they "know" work - and when the research contradicts their personal beliefs, you get a lot of "yeah, but..." answers. I think the best use of research is to drive changes in practice, rather than convincing people to change their minds. I think the best way to change minds is to show models of student work that are undeniably excellent.



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