Friday, January 15, 2021

Teacher online presence research

The science behind engaging students via instructional videos is complicated, according to findings by researchers. Their findings show that when these visuals are used effectively, it can drive student engagement, but in some cases it could be distracting. While students reported higher engagement when the instructor looked at the camera than when they didn’t, the transparent whiteboard wasn’t always the most effective. Stull says that it seems that actually seeing the teacher’s face the whole time may have distracted attention away from the words and drawings on the transparent whiteboard.

Stull, A. T., Fiorella, L., & Mayer, R. E. (2020). The case for embodied instruction: The instructor as a source of attentional and social cues in video lectures. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Teacher-student digital divide study

 Educators from school districts across the nation – from the most underserved to the most affluent – made significant strides in embracing and using technology tools to start the school year. Unfortunately, that balance still has not been fully achieved by all students.

According to a new study, there remain large gaps in the use of education technology among students from lower-income schools compared with those from higher-income areas.

Through its analysis, LearnPlatform noted that teachers from districts with 25% or more free-and-reduced lunch quickly made up ground on peers from other districts in November in their use of education technology. However, their students were still engaging about 30% less on digital platforms than other students.

The yearlong research, has looked at more than 270,000 educators and 2.5 million students across K-12 districts in 17 states.

Although those students seemed to be on the right track in October, the study said there was a notable drop-off in those gaps in November. In its report, authors said, “If the trend continues, the gap could expand beyond pre-COVID levels.”

One of the many potential reasons for the continuing divide is the sheer number of education technology tools out there. The study noted an analysis of “8,000 tech tools” used by teachers this year, including more than 1,300 in the past month alone. Since March, the authors said more than 70 tools were utilized for math and English courses and that most districts employed more than one LMS plus multiple single sign-on providers.

“The data suggest that having to learn and navigate so many digital tools may be contributing to confusion and disengagement, rather than creating more options,” researcher Rectanus said.

Rectanus, K. (2020). The Exponential Growth of the Digital Divide. LearnPlatform.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Digital Divide report

 As digital learning is expected to expand, data shows 67% of K-12 schools -- affecting 31.5 million students -- do not meet the recommended threshold of 1 megabits per second per student, according to a national report. Yet, data shows some improvement in median bandwidth per student and costs.

Connect12: 2020 executive summary. (2020). Connected Nation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

World Reading Habits in 2020

 A lengthy infographic shows reading habits around the world in 2020. Aspects include reading formats, gender and generation trends, habits by continent -- and the US. 

Cabrera, I. (2020, Nov. 6). World reading habits in 2020. Global English Editing

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Digital shift report

 The sudden shift in digital learning in spring 2020 has resulted in increased usage of digital tools by teachers and students, according to a recent national survey. Teacher viewpoints on what platforms and features are necessary has changed greatly, with more of a need for accessibility and flexibility. Teachers also see the importance of more cross-platform digital resources and want training in gamification. The report also finds stronger appreciation by parents for the value of technology as a learning vehicle and their role in supporting their child’s education from home. Engagement is still cited by education leaders as the top reason for the use of technology in education, but students cite improved outcomes, more personalized learning, better grades, better communication, and being able to collaborate. 

Speak Up National Report. (2020). Digital learning during the pandemic. Project Tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Technology as a learning tool report

 The move to digital learning during the pandemic has resulted in a greater appreciation by parents and students for technology as a learning tool, according to a recent report.The report -- based on responses from more than 110,000 students, nearly 12,000 teachers and others --also found the increase in technology use provides more opportunities and context for defining value and rigor of resources. Some other findings were: greater appreciation by parents and students of digital learning, and student awareness of more modalities for learning.

Project Tomorrow. (2020). Digital Learning During the Pandemic: Emerging Evidence of an Education Transformation. Irvine, CA: Project Tomorrow. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Comment on “Extensive Reading” Combined with Study Abroad. S Krashen


A Comment on “Extensive Reading” Combined with Study Abroad

Submitted for publication


O’Neil and Edelman (2020) reported that including an “extensive reading” requirement as part of a study abroad program “had a negative effect on reading affect” (p. 251). 


Their subjects were two similar groups of undergraduates studying science and engineering in Japan who participated in a program in the United States that lasted for one month. It included lectures and field trips in science and the local culture, interaction with local university students, and workshops on research in which students presented reports in areas of their interest. The experimental group engaged in extensive reading and controls did not. Questionnaires were administered to both group four months before the program began, at the end of the program, and one year later. 


The experimental group experienced a clear decline in their opinion of the “practical value” of the reading program at the end of the program and this opinion had not changed one year later. They also felt more negative about the educational value of the reading program, but when asked one year later, their opinions on this issue were the same as those of control subjects.

This result is clearly inconsistent with the results of a large number of studies showing that programs that encourage self-selected pleasure reading are valued by students (Krashen, 2004, 28-34) and produce clear gains in language development (Mason and Krashen, 2017). 


But the “extensive reading” program described by O’Neill and Edelman was not self-selected pleasure reading: it was forced reading (a minimum number of books per week was required), selected from limited range of books to choose from (only books from the Oxford Bookworm Series were made available), and highly constrained book reports were required in which students had to answer specific questions about each book. The decline in attitudes is consistent with what has previously been reported on the effects of book reports and lack of choice (Krashen, 2004, p. 127-128).


O’Neil and Edelman conclude that extensive reading should not be combined with study abroad programs. My conclusion is that extensive reading programs, as described here, should be not used at all.1



1.     Also of interest is the finding that self-selected pleasure reading programs have been shown to be superior to at least some kinds of study-abroad experiences and “immersion” situations in terms of second language acquisition (Mason and Krashen, 2017). 




O’Neill, B. & Edelman, C. (2020). Assessing the efficacy of extensive reading during study abroad: A time and place for ER? International Journal of Teaching and Educational Research, 19(6), 251-266.

Krashen, S. (2004). The power of reading.  Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Second edition.

Mason, B., & Krashen, S. (2017). Self-selected reading and TOEIC performance: Evidence from case histories. Shitennoji University Bulletin, 63, 469-475.

Mason, B., & Krashen, S. (2019). Hypothesis: A Class Supplying Rich Comprehensible Input is More Effective and Efficient than “Immersion.” IBU Journal of Educational Research and Practice, 7: 83-89.