There’s no doubt that educational technology can make a big difference in the classroom. But the key to closing the achievement gap may not be found in providing more technology to students, but rather putting the right ed tech into the hands of teachers.
One frequently touted benefit of digital tools, for instance, is that they are self-pacing, allowing students to progress on their own through individualized learning programs. However, a meta-analysis by Duke University researchers of 23 studies examining the efficacy of intelligent tutoring systems showed that self-paced education technology may actually exacerbate achievement gaps by allowing already high-performing students to progress while leaving underperforming students to flounder.
A better way to improve outcomes and close the achievement gap is to give teachers effective digital tools that are purposefully designed to improve instruction and empower teachers to better focus their time and resources. Our nation needs to place far more weight on giving teachers intelligent technology created precisely to foster student learning. We need to focus on helping teachers do their jobs with the best tools and to the best of their abilities. According to Professor Neil Heffernan, who runs the ASSISTments project at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in this article, that’s what will ultimately boost student outcomes.
This five-year grant, led by TAF Co-Founder and Executive Director Cristina Heffernan, will be used to further develop ASSISTments’ innovative tutoring technology, which leverages teacher- and student-facing tools for core instruction. This project will focus on high-needs middle school math students and their teachers at more than 150 schools.Continue Reading
ASSISTments operates in part from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program grant. The first two years of this grant have been focused on what we have named as three key “scale-up” mechanisms, areas where we can further develop and improve to achieve greater reach and impact. Thus far, we’ve engaged hundreds of our teacher users, and learned valuable lessons about scaling sustainability. As we enter the third year of the grant, we wanted to share these lessons to support other nonprofits in the early and pivotal stages of growth.Continue Reading