Which tech is really worth investing in?

Which tech is really worth investing in?
Deciding which technology to invest in can be a difficult decision for school leaders but one new study may be able to provide some valuable guidance after pooling the findings from over 100 previous investigations.

Academics at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab – an organisation inside the economics department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – scoured academic journals and various databases to identify reliable research on using technology in schools.

“We wanted to find all the studies and distil the main lessons so that decision makers can decide which programs to scale up and invest in,” explained researcher Vincent Quan, who runs the education unit at J-PAL.

Quan and his colleagues were only able to find 113 studies on technology in the classroom which could be considered reliable and scientifically rigorous. They went on to collate this data and share the results in Education Technology: An Evidence-Based Review.

Published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the report provides clear tables on which technology is scientifically proven to boost learning and which doesn’t.

Speaking to US News, the researchers identified three major themes which are present in the report.

Firstly, computers and internet access alone don’t boost learning – in fact, it can actually harm education outcomes in certain situations. To see genuine improvements, schools need to implement educational software, rather than just offering basic equipment or online access.

Secondly, math software seems to be the most promising – just 20 software studies showed a level of learning improvement and the vast majority were in math.

Finally, and perhaps most pleasing to school leaders, is that effective tech doesn’t have to be expensive. According to the report, low-cost initiatives like text messages and reminders were surprisingly effective with both students and parents.

“It’s not necessarily the most expensive or complicated technologies that make a difference,” J-PAL’s Quan told US News. “Even text messages can have a measurable impact on academic outcomes. It’s not flashy. Sometimes you don’t need all that flash and gimmick.”