Monday, March 18, 2013

1:1 and Learning Outcomes

Last week, there was an interesting thread on the ISED listserv about how 1:1 programs affect learning outcomes. One of the most cogent replies came from Dr. Damian Bebell, an Assistant Research Professor at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. Here's what he said (posted with permission):

"As a full-time researcher and policy adviser, I hear this important question A LOT :)

As others have pointed out, defining and measuring "student learning and outcomes" can be tricky. Also, it is important to remember that 1:1 programs, by definition, mean nothing more than the access ratio of students to computers. So, a 1:1 program in a progressive educational setting may look and operate completely differently than a 1:1 program used exclusively for test prep and productivity in a different setting. So, it is critically important to define and measure your student outcomes (how do you define success?), but also to define what teacher and student practices and uses that the 1:1 program is supporting.

I often joke that policy makers likely imagine that laptops arrive down on students desks on parachutes and instantly test scores start improving (or other student outcome). It really has everything to do with how the 1:1 is implemented. My own research of 1:1 laptop and iPad programs suggests that even in schools with clear expectations and directives for new technologies, individual classroom teachers play a HUGE role deciding when, how, and why students access and use any resource. So, a middle school math teacher in a 1:1 school might have their students using their laptops or tablets for a rich host of self-paced learning activities, peer-initiated projects where kids regularly model 3D relationships and functions. Across the hall in the same grade and school, a different math teacher could have the same resources but use them very differently; perhaps to have kids follow along on a PowerPoint or play a simple math skills game once students had completed a paper-based exercise. My point is that even within a really well-designed and intentional 1:1 school program, we generally see a wide variation in how and when teachers and their students use these tools. From a design perspective, this further complicates research and evaluation efforts since different students are using the technology in different ways and for different amounts.
To answer the original question, most studies do find that the 1:1 programs yield positive results (or at least those get published!). Here are some examples (with links) from my own work conducting and publishing empirical research from 1:1 settings that may be useful:
JTLA Special Edition on 1:1 Laptop Research
This 2010 special edition of the Journal of Technology and Assessment (Vol. 9) presented four empirical studies of K–12 1:1 computing programs and one review of key themes in the conversation about 1:1 computing among advocates and critics.

This journal edition provided a forum for researchers to present empirical evidence on the effectiveness of 1:1 computing models for improving teacher and student outcomes, and to discuss the methodological challenges and solutions for assessing the effectiveness of these technology-rich educational settings.

In the summary article below, editors Bebell and O’Dwyer provide an introduction to JTLA 1:1 special edition, and synthesize results and themes across the studies:
Bebell, D. & O’Dwyer, L. (2010). Educational Outcomes and Research from 1:1 Computing Settings.

The individual 1:1 research studies included:
Bebell, D. & Kay, R. (2010). One to One Computing: A Summary of the Quantitative

Results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative.

Drayton, B., Falk, J.K., Stroud, R., Hobbs, K., & Hammerman, J. (2010). After Installation: Ubiquitous Computing and High School Science in Three Experienced, High-Technology Schools.

Shapley, K.S., Sheehan, D., Maloney, C., & Caranikas-Walker, F. (2010). Evaluating the Implementation Fidelity of Technology Immersion and its Relationship with Student Achievement.
Suhr, K.A., Hernandez, D.A., Grimes, D., & Warschauer, M. (2010). Laptops and Fourth-Grade Literacy: Assisting the Jump over the Fourth-Grade Slump.
Weston, M.E. & Bain, A. (2010). The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change.
2 other studies:
Ipad Kindergarden study
Freelance journalist Audrey Watters summarizes the first look at the results of Auburn, Maine’s 2011-2012 study:

Newton Public School 21st Century Pilot Study
Through the integration of 1:1 student and teacher laptops as well as additional digital tools (such as interactive white boards) in a pilot classroom, a 13-month research and evaluation study was conducted to examine how such digital resources impacted teaching and learning in a traditional middle school environment.

Dr. Bebell's Contact Information:
Damian Bebell, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor
Technology and Assessment Study Collaborative
Lynch School of Education
Boston College

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