There is no magic in the computer

2015-12-03 06:18

New research in the Review of Educational Research this December is a reminder that the few things that we know work in face-to-face teaching are still the things that work when employing Computer Based Learning (CBL). There is no magic when a student sits in front of a glowing screen to practice problems. In Visible Learning, Hattie writes that immediate feedback from the teacher is one of the practical strategies that actually works, independent of the overall teaching strategies (DI, mastery learning, etc.).

Similarly, Van der Kleij et al looked at about a hundred studies, categorized on a couple variables and found that CBL without immediate elaborate feedback is essentially not worth doing. While there is opportunity for more research on the topic (standing out are: younger students, use of multimedia, eye tracking to measure student engagement), if feedback is delayed or limited to either the correctness of the student response or simply providing the correct answer, it is much less helpful a tool (probably worse than what you are already doing).

This is a reminder that when selecting any learning activity, you need to build in the formative assessment and feedback, whether you use “technology” or not. You cannot bolt on these mechanisms that separate teaching from passive consumption of “educational material.” If the tech you considering bringing into the classroom does not facilitate this (do-assess-feedback) loop, then it is not a learning tool, whatever it says on the label.




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