The use of digital technologies to support learning. Approaches in this area are very varied, but a simple split can be made between:
- Programmes for students, where learners use technology in problem solving or more open-ended learning, and
- Technology for teachers such as interactive whiteboards or learning platforms.
Overall, studies consistently find that digital technology is associated with moderate learning gains (on average an additional four months). However, there is considerable variation in impact. Evidence suggests that technology should be used to supplement other teaching, rather than replace more traditional approaches. It is unlikely that particular technologies bring about changes in learning directly, but different technology has the potential to enable changes in teaching and learning interactions, such as by providing more effective feedback for example, or enabling more helpful representations to be used or simply by motivating students to practise more.
There is some evidence that it is more effective with younger learners and studies suggest that individualising learning with technology (one to one laptop provision, or individual use of drill and practice) may not be as helpful as small group learning or collaborative use of technology. There is clear evidence that it is more beneficial for areas like writing rather than spelling or mathematics practice rather than problem solving.
Despite large-scale implementation of digital technology for teaching and learning in Australian schools, there remains a limited amount of research into its impact on student learning and achievement. The available research focuses mainly on the implementation of particular programs within a school or a community of schools, examining changes in student engagement and motivation. A few studies also examine changes in academic outcomes that result from digital technology use. The research results are varied despite some positive impacts observed.
A study published in 2013 used a randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of a computer-based programme on struggling early readers in the Northern Territory. The approach appeared to have a particular impact on the phonological awareness of Indigenous students.
Our school utilises cloud based learning environments such as Google classroom for independent student learning tasks. Students must demonstrate competencies in the use of digital tools given the prolific utilisation outside of schools.
We are currently monitoring the use of technology in both duration and application to develop a best practice guide for our students.