Online homework tools trade ‘busy work’ for feedback to help end inequities in schools

Neil Heffernan
July 11, 2019

Quick summary:

The use of technology is growing in schools, but we’re missing critical opportunities if technology isn’t being used to close the pernicious achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers and between low-income students and their more affluent peers.

While we’ve seen limited, and not necessarily linear, progress on the race-based gap, the income-based achievement gap has been particularly stubborn, and research suggests it is widening between students from the poorest families and those from the highest-income households in the United States.

Rather than hastily introducing educational technologies to schools, according to Professor Neil Heffernan who runs the ASSISTments project at WPI, we should test new digital tools to ensure that they are effective and help all students. At the same time, when we do see that technology can improve teaching and learning in a powerful way, we need to harness that power and make it available to all children. Doing that, on a national scale, would truly be an equity game-changer.

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