How effective is computer assisted learning?

November 15, 2019

A Powerful Hunger for Evidence-Proven Technology. The technology industry and education policymakers have touted the benefits of computers in learning. As a consequence, schools in the United States now spend more than $2 billion each year on education technology. But what are schools getting in return for this significant investment in technology learning? Robert Slavin examines the results from five studies designed to answer this question. Slavin concludes that the impact of technology-infused instruction on reading, mathematics, and science in elementary and secondary schools is very small. His analysis finds a study-weighted average across these five reviews to be a +0.05 effect size. This effect size appears to be an insignificant return on investment for such a substantial allocation of resources. Slavin concludes that how software is designed is at the heart of the problem. Commercial companies most often develop education technology. Given technology companies are market-driven, education software developers value profit margins, attractiveness, ease of use, low cost, trends, and fads, over evidence of efficacy. Slavin proposes a solution to improve upon this current model needs to include boosting the incentives to technology developers for creating products based on rigorous research and proven technology-based programs. Regardless of how best to solve the problem, educators need to take seriously this call to address this issue.

Citation: Slavin, R. (2019). A Powerful Hunger for Evidence-Proven Technology. Baltimore, MD: Robert Slavin’s Blog.