The Latest Ed-Tech Research: Studies You Need to Know From AERA 2015

By Benjamin Herold — May 11, 2015 2 min read
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One thing is clear, based on reader reaction to Digital Education’s coverage of this year’s annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, held in Chicago last month:

People in the field desperately crave quality independent research on what the tidal wave of devices, software, apps, and digital tools now in classrooms mean for teachers’ instruction and students’ learning.

For your convenience, then, here’s a roundup of our top posts from the conference:

1. Frontiers of Digital Learning Probed by Researchers From “whole-body, mixed reality, immersive simulations” for teach planetary physics to “connected gardening” to use of screen-casting technologies to better understand students’ mathematical thinking, Education Week profiled four examples of researchers investigating cutting-edge uses of education technology.

2. iPads, E-Readers, and Early Literacy: Emerging Research from AERA

Four pending studies include surprising findings about how iPads and e-readers are actually being used with children by parents and teachers. In one ongoing study, for example, researchers found that use of a letter-recognition app significantly boosted students’ abilities, but teachers still did not want to use it, because the technology conflicted with their beliefs about how children should learn.

3. Writing in Google Docs Doesn’t Affect Student Test Scores, Early Research Finds

Teachers and students are enthusiastically embracing Google Docs, but actual usage of the free online word-processing tool didn’t quite live up to promises of more collaborative writing or better peer and teacher feedback. Neither did student test scores improve after extended use of Google Docs.

4. U.S. Students Awful at Evaluating Reliability of Online Science Readings

In this study of 1,429 7th grade students from 40 districts, just 4 percent of students could correctly identify the author of an online information source, evaluate that author’s expertise and point of view, and make informed judgments about the overall reliability of the site they were reading.

5. Coding and Computer Science in School Libraries: Researcher Q&A

Given time and space to innovate, librarians can play an important role in engaging students in the use of programming tools, two researchers contended.

Photo: Gabriela Salgado, left, and Richard Salgado Silverio, 4th graders at Brunson-Lee Elementary School in Phoenix, Ariz., compare visual growth markers from their garden plot using real-time environmental data. Arizona State University researchers are seeking to establish a network of school-based, ‘connected’ gardening sites in southwestern states. --Arizona State University

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.