Saturday, October 24, 2015

New OECD Report Slams Computers - and Actually Says Why They Can Hurt Learning

Are there computers in the classroom? Does it matter? Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection examines how students’ access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT) devices has evolved in recent years, and explores how education systems and schools are integrating ICT into students’ learning experiences. Based on results from PISA 2012, the report discusses differences in access to and use of ICT – what are collectively known as the “digital divide” – that are related to students’ socio-economic status, gender, geographic location, and the school a child attends. The report highlights the importance of bolstering students’ ability to navigate through digital texts. It also examines the relationship among computer access in schools, computer use in classrooms, and performance in the PISA assessment. As the report makes clear, all students first need to be equipped with basic literacy and numeracy skills so that they can participate fully in the hyper-connected, digitised societies of the 21st century.

OECD (2015), Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Research: Learning Is No Spectator Sport

MOOCs that rely primarily on people watching lectures may be missing an opportunity to help their students learn even more by adding interactive activities. Recent research into massive open online courses suggests that students do six times better in the course by "extra doing."

The printing press long ago and the computer today have made widespread access to information possible. Learning theorists have suggested, however, that mere information is a poor way to learn. Instead, more effective learning comes through doing. While the most popularized element of today's MOOCs are the video lectures, many MOOCs also include interactive activities that can afford learning by doing. This paper explores the learning benefits of the use of informational assets (e.g., videos and text) in MOOCs, versus the learning by doing opportunities that interactive activities provide. We find that students doing more activities learn more than students watching more videos or reading more pages. We estimate the learning benefit from extra doing (1 SD increase) to be more than six times that of extra watching or reading. Our data, from a psychology MOOC, is correlational in character, however we employ causal inference mechanisms to lend support for the claim that the associations we find are causal.

Koedinger, K., Kim, J., Jia, J., Mclaughlin, E., & Bier, N. (2015). Learning is Not a Spectator Sport. Proceedings of the Second (2015) ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale - L@S '15. Retrieved from

OpenEd Assesses 'Most Effective' Online Learning Resources

Animated flashcards and sub-two-minute videos turn out to be the most effective online resources for K-12 against all other common options. That's the finding determined by OpenEd, which recently studied the data generated from the results of assessments given to students who used its free online resources for educational purposes. The company examined the average "effectiveness" of its online instructional resources. That was defined by how well students performed on an assessment covering the same subject or standard category after viewing the resource.

Schaffhauser, D. (2015, September 23). OpenEd Assesses 'Most Effective' Online Learning Resources. The Journal. Retrieved from

Paper cited can be accessed at

Theory of mind selectively predicts preschoolers’ knowledge-based selective word learning

Preschoolers who scored higher on "theory of mind" tests were better at discerning between accurate and inaccurate sources of information, according to a study published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology. Study co-author Patricia Brosseau-Liard notes empathy is only one factor contributing to selective learning.

Children can selectively attend to various attributes of a model, such as past accuracy or physical strength, to guide their social learning. There is a debate regarding whether a relation exists between theory-of-mind skills and selective learning. We hypothesized that high performance on theory-of-mind tasks would predict preference for learning new words from accurate informants (an epistemic attribute), but not from physically strong informants (a non-epistemic attribute). Three- and 4-year-olds (= 65) completed two selective learning tasks, and their theory-of-mind abilities were assessed. As expected, performance on a theory-of-mind battery predicted children's preference to learn from more accurate informants but not from physically stronger informants. Results thus suggest that preschoolers with more advanced theory of mind have a better understanding of knowledge and apply that understanding to guide their selection of informants. This work has important implications for research on children's developing social cognition and early learning.

Brosseau-Liard, P., Penney, D. and Poulin-Dubois, D. (2015), Theory of mind selectively predicts preschoolers’ knowledge-based selective word learning. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 33: 464–475. doi: 10.1111/bjdp.12107

The Hechinger Report: Data comparing graduation rates of urban, suburban areas

An analysis of 2009 graduation rates found that 60.9 percent of high-schoolers in cities graduated across the country, compared with 75.3 percent in suburbs. (Towns and rural districts were in the middle, graduating 71.7 percent and 75 percent of students, respectively.) This report breaks down the numbers for various Metro areas and looks at how similar -- and different-- they are.

Butrymowicz, S. (2015, September 28). Struggling cities and excelling suburbs: A repeated pattern around the country - The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from

Study: Computer games can boost literacy

A study by Hiller Spires, a professor of Literacy and Technology at North Carolina State University takes a look at how computer games can increase literacy in middle-school aged boys (a demographic that traditionally begins to loose interest in reading). A 2011 study found that teenage boys were able to read above grade level while playing computer games, even though they tested two grade-levels below on standardized reading tests.

Just as literacy practices are contextualized in social situations and relationships, game players establish shared language and understandings within a game; in essence, they gain fluency in specialized languages. This commentary explores the importance of digital game-based learning for schooling, the relationship between game-based learning, and results from Crystal Island, a NSF-funded research project on digital gameplay. Suggestions for how teachers can use games in the classroom are highlighted.

Spires, H. (in press). Digital game-based learning: What's literacy got to do with it? Journal of Adolescent and Adult Learning.

The 2015 School CIO Summit Report: Focus on STEM & Inquiry-Based Learning

Two days prior to the ISTE 2015 Conference, a select group from the SchoolCIO community convened in Philadelphia to discuss the topics of STEM and inquiry-based learning. The days were filled with presentations from expert panelists representing The Franklin Institute, Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, the School District of Philadelphia, and the US Department of Education. This special report offers highlights from the event, including plenty of tips and resources you can implement in your district, including:

 *   The STEM Crisis: Myth or Fact?
 *   STEM and Inquiry-Based Learning: Successes, Challenges, and Takeaways
 *   Rethinking Learning Environments
 *   Building and Funding Your Infrastructure
 *   PLUS: interviews with CIOs, The Latest Edtech News & Surveys, and More

*Requires a School CIO subscription to access.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Technology integration British survey findings

About 25% of teachers in Great Britain believe that using digital learning tools improves students' achievement by at least one grade, according to a recent YouGov study of 3,000 schools. About one-third of teachers who said they use technology in the classroom say they plan to integrate more of it into their lessons.
 Generation Tech: Exploring technology in education. (2016). Virgin Media.