Week 11 – A3: Quality and elearning

A3a: ICT and test performance

“Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort”

In the US, The No Child Left Behind Act called for a study on the impact of technology on student academic achievement.


1. Test Scores Were Not Significantly Higher in Classrooms Using Selected
Reading and Mathematics Software Products.
2. Effects Were Correlated With Some Classroom and School Characteristics.

“Districts were recruited on the basis that they did not already use technology products that were similar to study products in participating schools.” Does this mean that this study has inadvertly focused on districts who are not eager to use such products? Did this have an effect on the conclusions of this study ?

Interesting to see results of second study where teachers have more experience and thus results might vary.

Study uses voluntary participation of technology product developers, districts and schools, and teachers. Can this lead to erreneous results?

“The experimental design provides a basis for understanding whether software products improve achievement. Teachers in the treatment group were to implement a  designated product as part of their reading or math instruction. Teachers in the control group were to teach reading or math as they would have normally, possibly using technology products already available to them. Because the only difference on average between groups is whether teachers were assigned to use study products, test-score differences could be attributed to being assigned to use a product, after allowing for sampling variability” pg

This makes me think about mathematics classes in my school. The teachers are urged to use at least once per week the computer labs in order to give students exposure to software products (e.g. Microworlds Logo, Ms Excel and Derive). This software should enable the students to learn certain topics through these tools. There is a misconception by teachers that they have to teach students the software. Thus, due to syllabus & time constraints, they rather prefer not to bring their students to the computer labs.

  • Nearly All Teachers Received Training and Believed the Training Prepared them to Use the Products.
  • Technical Difficulties Using Products Mostly Were Minor. …When asked whether they would use the products again, nearly all teachers indicated
    that they would.
  • When Products Were Being Used, Students Were More Likely to Engage in Individual Practice and Teachers Were More Likely to Facilitate Student Learning Rather Than Lecture.” pg xix

“Relationships between school and classroom characteristics and score differences cannot be interpreted as causal, because districts and schools volunteered to participate in the study and to implement particular products. Their characteristics (many of which the study did not observe) may influence observed effects. For first grade, effects were larger when schools had smaller student-teacher ratios (a measure of class size). Other characteristics, including teacher experience and education, school racial-ethnic composition, and the amount of time that products were used during the school year, were not correlated with effects.” pg xxi

The use of technology tools in the classroom per se will not make a drastic improvement in the learning of students.

Software products were reportedly used for 10% of the available instructional time.

“The  study also found that products caused teachers to be less likely to lecture and more likely to facilitate, while students using reading or mathematics software products were more likely to be working on their own.” pg xxiv

A3b: Other benefits of ICT

“…advocates of elearning would probably say that it conveys many other learning advantages, especially in the field of open and distance learning, which should also be taken into consideration.

These advantages could be grouped under the following headings:

  • Access to more/better sources of information
  • Greater flexibility in how/where/when one learns
  • More collaborative learning
  • New/better ways of learning using Web 2.0 tools
  • Better/more tutoring
  • Better assessment methods”

1. Are these possibilities mentioned above being realised?

Teacher and student alike have a vast pool of online resources. Problem is that searching skills are needed to find quality info.

Communication between stakeholders in education can happen even outside school premises through the use of tools lie email, blogs, video conferencing.

In ICT lesson my school has implemented a tool built inhouse were students have their ICT skills accessed. development time is higher but correction time is nill !

2. Do you think that open and distance learning is the main beneficiary?

I am not sure if open and distance learning are the main beneficiaries as elearning can take different forms and any form has gained benefits.

A3c: ‘Digital Natives’

CIBER/UCL findings by Williams and Rowlands (2008). section titled ‘Opinion, assumption and anecdotal evidence’ (pages 12–21).

1. How do the two extracts compare?

speaking about the same issues. Williams & Rowlands give more weight to the findings by quoting from research although they also are relying on their own ‘anectodes’

2. What dangers are there in reading less than the full report?

It feels like having skimmed the report in Week 1, acquiring & interpreting knowledge without actually knowing certain detail.

3. How much do you think that Williams’ and Rowlands’ conclusions rely on their reading of 86 research papers and how much on their own ‘anecdotes’?

A3d: Low learner take-up?

At the risk of getting a little circular, may I ask you to spend some time in your tutorial group forum reflecting on:

My initial response:

1. Why you participate in some forums and not others?

Participation in forums can take different forms . As seen with blogs last week different users can take different approaches. My approach at times is that of survival, where I tend to read many of the posts and give my reactions to activities that we are covering. I identify myself in what others have said about the need of thinking carefully before posting. This would surely be different in F-2-F tutorials.

In H800 participating in forums can be seen as obligatory as this has a weight in the TMA mark. Would the level of participation change if we ared not marked?

2. How your input is affected by the way the forum is structured.

The input is affected. For example after reformatting my laptop, and thus reinstalling FirstClass, I couldn’t find the ‘Group by subject’ option. This made it very difficult for me to follow discussions, even more to give my input in the forums.

3. Whether you behave differently in face-to-face tutorials.

Face-to-face tutorials have the advantage of personal contact, where facial expressions, tone of voice form part of the interaction. Normally these tutorials are set in specified time slots whereas forum collaboration is asyncronous thus being able to post in intervals and meanwhile being able to reflect on other’s contributions.


One thought on “Week 11 – A3: Quality and elearning

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