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Education Featured Article

August 22, 2012

Advanced Technology is Transforming US Education

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

Although Internet and computers have changed K-12 U.S. classrooms, the overall performance has been mixed so far. Now, all that is about to change with the introduction of new advances in education technology called “ed tech”.

Even though “ed tech” has been considered as a “great equalizer” for its ability to provide universal access to information via the Internet, in practice, it has been more hype than reality, according to Forbes contributor James Marshall Crotty. But, as per Crotty’s report, with further improvements in digital technology, ed tech is making progress and gaining traction.

According to Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson School, who recently talked on this subject at Education Week, “digital learning has evolved beyond static e-books that are simply PDFs of a printed textbook to include fully interactive content designed specifically for mobile devices.”

For example, in January 2012, Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced partnerships with Apple (News - Alert) to produce exclusive content through the new iBooks 2 platform, as well as premium programs that are fully adaptive and data-driven, such as Pearson’s SuccessMaker for K-8 reading and math, reported Crotty.

The Forbes report indicates that ed tech proponents are viewing this sea change as similar to the e-commerce revolution.

For instance,  Crotty wrote, “Most of us are accustomed to how e-commerce sites personalize our experience. Amazon actively learns about our preferences based on our buying and browsing behavior, and then makes corresponding recommendations. The same principles apply to Netflix, which personalizes recommendations based on our genre preferences and rental histories.”

Likewise, education technology has also transformed to enable personalized learning, allowing students to learn at their own pace, in their own way. Also, the report indicates that education technology is also permitting students to deploy the medium that works best for them, such as small group instruction at interactive smart boards or one-to-one computer-assisted tutoring.

Few reports have shown that one-to-one computer-assisted learning, known as personalized digital learning, has improved student engagement and performance. In particular, the Forbes report highlights improvements made by Pearson’s SuccessMaker, which was reported to improve reading skills of third grade and sixth grade students by nearly 60 percent in comparison to their peers using print programs.

Similarly, the report focuses on math gains made by students at Indianapolis’ Southport Middle School. But, overall the results are mixed, according to Crotty.

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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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