Quaker Valley Digital School District: Early Effects and Plans for Future Evaluation

By Kerri A. Kerr; John F. Pane et al. | Go to book overview

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

REVIEW OF EXISTING LITERATURE

As part of RAND's work for the Quaker Valley School District, we reviewed research literature on a number of issues relevant to school laptop program design, implementation, and evaluation. We reviewed major program evaluations from U.S. school laptop programs, as well as a sampling of international laptop studies, including work from Australia, Germany, and Great Britain. We also looked at research on educational technology more broadly, particularly in a number of areas relevant to laptop programs. Because this is a broad field of study with a voluminous literature in recent years, we focused on a number of key research reviews, syntheses, and meta-analyses. Our study was not intended to be comprehensive, but does seek to convey a broad consensus view of the promise and perils of technology, and laptops in particular, in K–12 education.

One key lesson we learned from our review is the need for future research and evaluation of educational technology and laptop programs to be rigorous and relevant. As Fouts (2000, p. 2) notes in his review of the literature, “Our current knowledge of the educational affects [sic] of technology is rudimentary at best.” This is because research on educational technology has often been fraught with a variety of problems. Oppenheimer (1997), a prominent critic of educational technology initiatives, derides nearly all of the current literature: “The circumstances are artificial and not easily repeated, results are statistically unreliable, or, most frequently, the studies do not control for other influences, such as differences between teaching methods.”2 Many of these concerns are borne out in the literature on laptop programs: most laptop programs are embedded in larger school reform efforts, which makes it difficult to differentiate the effect of laptops from the effect of other changes; most lack valid comparison groups or baseline data, making the tracking and attribution of changes nearly impossible; and statistical techniques are generally fairly rudimentary (Penuel et al., 2002), making interpretation of changes quite challenging. Given all these problems, our review concurs

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Quaker Valley Digital School District: Early Effects and Plans for Future Evaluation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Summary xi
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Conceptual Framework 9
  • Current Status of the Digital School District Initiative 31
  • Plans for Future Evaluation of the Digital School District Initiative 49
  • Conclusions and Recommendations 63
  • References 67
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