Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. The term educational technology is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and learning theory.
Among its findings, the "Learning in the 21st Century: 2011 Trends Update" reports that two in five students believe online classes are an essential component to education, and that administrators' concerns about funding online courses are (slowly) fading, while concerns about evaluating quality of online courses is rising. But while the proportion of high school students who had taken an online course as of last fall tripled from the fall of 2008, from 10 to 30 percent, only about 26 percent teachers surveyed expressed interest in diving into online teaching if they hadn't already done so.
Teachers who had computers in the classroom reported higher skill levels in delivering instruction, planning lessons, managing paperwork and word processing, and more time using computers for reading, math and writing instruction than teachers whose access was limited to computer laboratories. Almost half (48%) of the teachers rated technology as the number one explanation for the student learning gains.
Maryle Gearhart and her associates report a dramatic decrease in teacher-led activities (from constituting
over 70% of class time when computers are not in use to constituting less than 10% when computers are in use) and a corresponding increase in independent or cooperative activities. This shift means that teachers begin to talk to individual students and to develop an idea of how much students understand and what their confusions are. The use of computers also means that students are more likely to go at their own pace - and often in their own direction - which can create problems of control for teachers.
Participants in this study felt that computer technology is helpful in their daily tasks, instructional procedures, and in the student learning process. Teachers are using computer technology to help them keep accurate classroom records. All indicators showed that the majority of the teachers believed that computer technology does enhance the students understanding of course content.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2002) report, in the year of 2001, 99% of public schools had Internet access. Additionally, the number of students per computer decreased from 10:1 during 1995-1996, to a little over 5:1 during the period of 1999-2000 (CEO Forum, 2001).
On average, the 470 students in the experimental classes using the software outperformed students in comparison classes by 15% on standardized tests and 100% on tests targeting the curriculum-focused objectives.
As for enhanced efficiency in learning and teaching, there have been no advances (measured by higher academic achievement of urban, suburban, or rural students) over the last decade that can be confidently attributed to broader access to computers. The link between test score improvements and computer availability and use is even more contested.
This year, the Department of Education is spending nearly $7.2 million on technology-based learning programs involving 13,000 students, up from $300,000 last year. While that's hardly a huge outlay in light of the DOE's $20-billion-plus budget, the agency plans to spend $30 million over the next three years and expand the effort to 400 schools.
The findings of the study indicated that technology-mediated collaborative learning in the electronic classroom can lead to statistically significantly higher levels of perceived skill development, self-reported learning, and evaluation of classroom experience in comparison to collaborative learning in a traditional classroom. Furthermore, the final test scores of the group of students who were in the electronic classroom were statistically significantly higher.
In one of the largest ongoing studies, the Texas Center for Educational Research, a nonprofit group, has so far found no overall difference on state test scores between 21 middle schools where students received laptops in 2004, and 21 schools where they did not, though some data suggest that high-achieving students with laptops may perform better in math than their counterparts without.