What Forty Years Of Research Says About The Impact Of Technology On Learning Online Free

Have you thought of how easy it is to fall back into studying online for free? Well, a study published by the Cornell University Psychology Department has found that it’s a good idea to think twice.

Fifty-one percent of K-12 teachers surveyed reported that increasing high-quality content is among the biggest barriers to embracing online learning. Meanwhile, 37 percent of teachers reported serious concerns about their students’ technology skills.

Technology should be part of the solution to improving instructional effectiveness, but technology alone is unlikely to be the silver bullet, according to a survey of nearly 1,200 K-12 educators, released this week by the higher education provider HiWire.

The researchers also learned that the quality of the content teachers perceive as lacking – as measured by a SmartSite test – is likely the issue that’s holding back schools.

Nearly half of respondents said they had begun using online learning in some form. Another 22 percent said they were actively considering online learning, while 16 percent said they hadn’t tried it yet.

That’s even though most schools could benefit from a more rigorous, academic approach to teaching and learning, the researchers concluded. They found that the most important quality at a student’s disposal is good technology skills. When faced with learning online, 42 percent of teachers said they were afraid of losing students’ interest in the subject matter.

But as better instruction becomes possible through online platforms and personalized learning, those are great fears, said Shari Klager, co-founder and co-CEO of HiWire. Klager, a former educator at California State University Fresno, said the competition to teach the material at the top of the list of concerns overstated the magnitude of the problem.

“That being said, teachers clearly believe [technology] can be a great teaching tool, in particular in terms of engaging students,” she said. “That teachers are getting concerned about just the content issues demonstrates the fact that there is a desire for higher quality teaching and learning.”

A quarter of respondents believed there was enough content out there, according to the report. The researchers attributed that pessimistic interpretation largely to teachers’ misunderstanding of the subjects they were taught themselves as students.

“All too often the content that’s taught in schools doesn’t replicate the content that’s taught in higher-level classrooms,” Klager said.

Despite the perception that teachers are underprepared to teach online, HiWire found that the majority – 52 percent – of the teachers reported the same level of skills they had to teach at the time of their graduate school degrees.

This insight might be key to bolstering the educators’ confidence in their own preparation for online learning.

Schools should also make it easier for teachers to access knowledge, according to the report. Half of the teachers said they had trouble using tools that help them create instructional videos and games.

Poor teacher technology training might not even exist, according to the report. Instead, schools tend to rely on outside resources, such as video search engines like Google, to teach their educators to teach online.

“The kind of education access that’s emerging as a byproduct of technology adoption seems to be greater technology access to teachers,” Klager said. “If that’s so, then teachers aren’t necessarily getting the skills that they need to use technology appropriately in the first place.”

High-quality teacher training is necessary to harness the incredible potential of online learning, according to the report. But a crucial problem could be inherent in it.

Teachers’ experiences in the classroom are too ingrained in their minds.

“We all have different experiences,” Klager said. “My teacher and the teacher I went to high school with and the teacher that my sister went to college with all share one thing in common: It’s that teachers go back to the school they went to when they have decades of practice. So that’s a lot different from the teacher that went to the school who just went to high school.”

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