ERIC Number: EJ1094864
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Reference Count: 2
How Technology Matters to Learning
Ehrmann, Stephen C.
Liberal Education, v99 n1 Win 2013
Did technology make a difference, for good or ill, in students' learning of economics in the three courses described in Dan Berrett's story, first published in the "Chronicle of Higher Education" and reprinted in this issue? That's the question that "Liberal Education" has asked this author to discuss. By "technology," Ehrmann means not only online systems, video, and computer tutorials, but also the classrooms, textbooks, and other means of learning in use by faculty and students. Steve Suranovic's course at George Washington University was taught mainly face-to-face in classrooms but also used Blackboard and online video recordings of lectures, among other technologies; Donald Boudreaux's course at George Mason University was taught face-to-face, and apparently no digital or online technology was used; and Peggy Douglas's course at University of Phoenix was taught totally online. What impact did technology have on the students' learning? Some would assume that the Phoenix students, "totally online," must have learned less. Actually, the online versus face-to-face distinction, by itself, tells us nothing about which students learned more. Thomas Russell (2001) has summarized 355 studies comparing learning outcomes from campus and distance courses. There was no significant difference in learning outcomes. (For access to the studies Russell summarized and to more research done since 2001, see www.nosignificantdifference.org.) The setting--whether "campus," "distance," or "online"--does not directly influence what students learn. Instead, according to decades of educational research in many fields, what matters is how students learn--what they do--rather than where they do it.
Descriptors: Influence of Technology, Technology Uses in Education, Relevance (Education), Educational Technology, Teaching Methods, Electronic Learning, Individualized Instruction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia; Virginia