George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technology Integration Research Review

Vanessa Vega
Former Edutopia Senior Manager of Research
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
Young boy with some very large headphones working at a computer station
Student Matthew participates in a Webquest in the school's multimedia lab. Every classroom at Forest Lake Elementary is furnished with a variety of tech tools to enrich lessons. Photo credit: Mark Wagoner

Editor's Note: This article was originally written by Vanessa Vega, with subsequent updates made by the Edutopia staff.

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.

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 five 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 et al, 2009; Means et al., 2013). An analysis of effective technology use for at-risk students found that simply replacing teachers with computer-based instruction typically yields no learning benefits. Rather, blending technology with teachers to support interactive learning, exploration, and creation (instead of “drill and kill” techniques) leads to higher engagement and learning gains (Darling-Hammond, Zielezinski, & Goldman, 2014). 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.

Technology Integration Overview

Comments (9) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe 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.

Dustin Stern's picture

Technology adoption in higher education is being adopted at a rapid pace. Video recording is being used almost every day as a observation / assessment tool especially within the health sciences department for graduate counseling, psychology and speech pathology classes.

Below is a bog series written by a speech pathology clinic director that uses video to observe and assess student / patient interactions:

abigail_pollak's picture
Marketing Assistant

Success depends on everything from leadership to staff buy-in to quality of training.

Martin Diaz Alvarez's picture
Martin Diaz Alvarez
Business Consultant

The formalized field of educational technology is still in its infancy. As a result, professional development and training practices are still being refined. As they are teachers in many school districts are choosing to lead their own technology integration through experimental applications with their students and curriculum.

Divya Vasantham's picture

Great Article on Technology Integration in classrooms. Now a days Technology helps a lot to students to learn new things. Using technology in class room helps students to engage more in the class and to learn a lot while seeing it practically. This will help students to learn with different learning styles. This will also helps a lot to teachers also to teach and to identify each students learning styles and gaps.

acunningham56's picture

great article! However, the problem that I keep seeing is that a lot of teachers and admins think that because they use technology in the classroom, that they're a blended learning model. There is a good article on this distinction that I think should be referenced.

Cagri Kanver's picture
Cagri Kanver
Interested in Education Information

Using technology in the classroom is becoming easier for teachers. Students are coming to class with more skills. Whether a teacher requires it or not, most students use technology for their projects.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.