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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technology Integration Research Review

Vanessa Vega
Former Edutopia Senior Manager of Research

Technology integration can be one of the most challenging topics to find quality research on. The term itself is a broad umbrella for numerous practices that may have little in common with each other. In addition, technology tools change rapidly, and outcomes can vary depending on implementation. Edutopia's tech integration review explores some of the vast body of research out there and helps you navigate useful results. In this series of five articles, learn about three key elements of successful technology integration, discover some of the possible learning outcomes, get our recommendations on specific practices and programs by academic subject and promising tools for additional topics, find tips for avoiding pitfalls when adopting new technologies, and dig into a comprehensive annotated bibliography with links to all the studies and reports cited in these pages.

Schools That Work:

Every classroom at Forest Lake Elementary in South Carolina is furnished with a variety of tech tools to enrich lessons (left). Student Matthew participates in a Webquest in the school's multimedia lab (right). Learn more about this school.

Credit: Grace Rubenstein

What Is Successful Technology Integration?

A key transition over the history of information technology has been in the shift from passive audiences to active users. Digital technologies permit users unprecedented control over the content they consume and the place in and pace at which they consume it. At the heart of effective technology integration practices, digital technologies offer learners greater opportunities to be more actively involved in the learning experience.

Read our article about successful technology integration for more ideas on the many different ways teachers and schools are integrating technology today.

Learning Outcomes

According to findings culled from four meta-analyses, blending technology with face-to-face teacher time generally produces better outcomes than face-to-face or online learning alone (Cheung and Slavin, 2011; Cheung and Slavin, 2012; Tamim, Bernard, Borokhovski, Abrami, and Schmid, 2011; Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, and Jones, 2009). However, there is currently limited rigorous research on the specific features of technology integration that improve learning. Meanwhile, the marketplace of learning technologies continues to grow and vary widely in terms of content, quality, implementation, and context of use.

One theme that has emerged from the research to date is that simply adding technology to K-12 environments does not necessarily improve learning. Rather, what matters most is how students and teachers use technology to develop knowledge and skills. Successful technology integration for learning generally goes hand in hand with changes in teacher training, curricula, and assessment practices (Zucker and Light, 2009; Bebell and O'Dwyer, 2010; Innovative Teaching and Learning Research, 2011). Edutopia's review of the literature also finds that successful technology integration generally involves three key principles:

  • Students playing an active role in their learning and receiving frequent, personalized feedback
  • Students critically analyzing and actively creating media messages
  • Teachers connecting classroom activities to the world outside the classroom

In the next section, we will look at research on technology integration practices that improve K-12 learning and will highlight specific tools.

Continue to the next section of the Tech Integration Research Review, Evidence-Based Programs by Subject.

Technology Integration Overview

Comments (3)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Vivian Kirkfield's picture

Great article...I agree that a big part of the success in using technology in the classroom is the engagement of the students and the familiarity of the teacher with the programs and equipment.

Leslie B's picture

The issue of weather or not the technology trying to be included is beneficial or not to an effective learning enviroment will always be an issue that will only be found out, in some cases, through implementation and testing. But it is good to see that students playing an active role in their learning and receiving frequent, personalized feedback, students critically analyzing and actively creating media messages, and teachers connecting classroom activities to the world outside the classroom. Very informative article and links.

Breanna's picture

I think that technology is extremely beneficial to students in many different ways most students learn by seeing and doing rather than just reading listening. I believe that technology in the classroom helps students with different learning style to learn better.

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