Ed-Tech Research That Mattered in 2016
Among the most-read, most-shared stories on Digital Education in 2016 were those that delved into high-quality research. That likely reflects a growing hunger within the K-12 sector for reliable information about education technology, in all its promise and its peril.
Here are 10 of the most popular and impactful Digital Education stories from the past year involving research on educational technology:
As Maker Education has evolved, researchers have explored related equity issues, design principles for Maker spaces, and the impact of this approach on student learning. Here are the big studies you need to know. Education Week also took an in-depth look at how these issues are playing out in Albemarle County, Va., public schools, a national leader in the maker movement. (April)
A meta-analysis of 15 years' worth of research found 1-to-1 laptop programs had a positive impact on students' English, math, and science scores. (May)
In February, Education Week broke news that students who took 2014-15 PARCC exams online often scored worse than those who took the exams on paper. We also compiled key studies on the comparability of computer- and paper-based assessments. (February)
The impact of blue-light emissions from electronic devices on human sleep has been well documented. In this review of 20 studies covering four continents, researchers found that children who used or had access to devices at bedtime were more likely than peers to sleep poorly, suggesting the problem also has to do with psychological and physiological arousal. (November)
A major study from the American Institutes for Research found that Chicago 9th graders who took a face-to-face version of an Algebra I credit-recovery course had better short-term outcomes than those who took the course online, raising questions about the rapidly growing online credit recovery market. (April)
Among young adults who regularly use smartphones and tablets, reading a story or performing a task on a screen instead of on paper led to greater focus on concrete details, but less ability to infer meaning or quickly get the gist of a problem, found a series of experiments detailed in the Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (May)
Lower-income parents have "overwhelmingly positive" views about technology for their children, but significant digital inequities persist. One of the biggest discrepancies: Nearly a quarter of lower-income families rely on mobile-only internet access, making it harder to complete homework, apply for college, and look for a job, according to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. (February)
Teachers' confidence in ed tech varies based on the type of school they work in, concluded an analysis from the Education Week Research Center. As a result, students in low-poverty and suburban schools may be getting more and better exposure to technology than their counterparts. (June)
In 2016, the so-called "digital use" divide became a big point of emphasis for the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology. This study is one example of why: Low-income Florida students were more likely than their affluent peers to use classroom software for drill-and-kill practice, researchers at the University of Florida found. (April)
And here's a future-looking research piece from the beginning of 2016: Researchers investigating "affect-aware" computerized tutoring systems expressed confidence that systems capable of detecting student emotions could help change the direction of personalized learning. (January)
Photo: Shemya Key, 17, left, and Nele Dixkens, a 16-year-old German exchange student, use a drill press to perfect their miniature-golf project in the engineering room at Monticello High School in Virginia's Albermarle County school district.--Reza A. Marvashti for Education Week
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